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Working Class Hero to Godfather, Mr Jean Gabin at BFI Southbank

A forerunner of French cinema, Jean Gabin’s career is celebrated this May 2012 in BFI Southbank, London, with both silent films and the talkies featured. Starting with Jean Gabin: Anatomy of a Myth, on Wednesday May 2nd an introduction from season curator Ginette Vincendeau (a Film Professor in King’s College London), the showstopper this season is nationwide release and the newly improved superb ‘poetic realism,’ Le Quai des Brumes (1939, France) from 4th May.

This magnificent and compelling Star ‘de la France’ became one of the greatest cinema icons from 1930 to 1976, since creating an original screen aura around the progressive story of the unfortunate working-class hero to an enigmatic Godfather character. His mythical manner portrays an ordinary story in a not-so ordinary ways.

Gabin started out as a comical singer in Moulin rouge and was repeatedly noticed for his talents, leading him to star in several silent films in 1928. This soon lead to the transition into the talkies and from 1935-9, the film star had a pre-war period favorite in the form of a French matinee. Astounding performances were showcased in the masterpieces Pépé le Moko (Julien Duvivier, 1937), La Bête humaine and Le Jour se lève (Dir, Marcel Carné, 1939).

Affixing Gabin’s international recognition was his part in La Grande Illusion, 1937, which has been recently re-released due to its 75th anniversary. It is a certified classic in the world of cinema. All in all, he has had a range of hits from crime thriller to mysteriously consuming classics, travelling to Hollywood, working with the universally acclaimed Fox and reaching global stardom. This incredible man experienced over 40 years of fame in his marvelous career; most of it down to his endearing character, rugged looks, thick rough voice and the allure of his Persian accent. Come and relish in his prestige and be overwhelmed by the man of many genre acting talents this May at BFI Southbank.

The BFI is a well-respected cultural organization for film maintaining appreciation for everyone in the breadth and width of the industry. Their events are both inspiring and informative, so to find out more on this French fancy visit www.bfi.org.uk/southbank. Dates and prices are detailed online.

-Alix Blankson



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