CINÉ-HISTOIRE is where film history and historical film meet. Cinéma du Musée proudly presents its new thematic series: five historical films showcasing one filmmaker, film era or topic. Each screening will be preceded by a brief introductory presentation and followed by a discussion led by an historian.

Recreating the past, making history, calls for skill, knowledge, and an attention to detail far beyond what is required for mere “costume dramas.” Screenwriters and film directors must be as meticulous as historians, analyzing every facet of history as they reconstruct the lives of complex characters often caught up in moral dilemmas. Only the greatest historical films are able to recreate the strangeness of the past while addressing themes that are both timeless and universal.

> The keen eye of Bertrand Tavernier
February 7, 2023 - May 25, 2023

Bertrand Tavernier (1941-2021) was an engaged and fervent cinephile who directed over thirty films during his forty-year career. His love of history figures prominently in his impressive filmography of fictional and nonfictional works.

Tavernier fed his passion with countless historical novels, memoirs, and newspapers, but had never been interested in the biographies of great men. And yet, though his films were not about kings, neither were they about the masses. What fascinated Tavernier were the interstitial characters, the second fiddles—weak, fragile men riddled with doubt and floating morals. This attention to secondary characters is what makes his perspective as an historian so unique. We look through Tavernier’s camera, his “second eye,” and walk with him into the past. He dusts off traditional historical cinema, where sumptuously garbed actors glide gracefully through picture-perfect, museum-like settings, revealing a past as chaotic and unstaged as our own lives today.

Tavernier was never the virtuoso director Stanley Kubrick was, but he knew how to put together a team. Throughout most of his career, he surrounded himself with a host of faithful, capable accomplices: wonderfully talented actors, of course, but also set decorators, editors, camera operators, film composers, and screenwriters. In the fourth chapter of our Ciné-histoire series, we follow Bertrand Tavernier and his most frequent collaborators on a formidable tour-de-force where the director weaves both radical diversity and intimate familiarity into his dramatic stories of the past.