Evein, Bernard

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EVEIN, Bernard

Art Director. Nationality: French. Born: Saint-Mazaire, 5 January 1929. Education: Attended School of Fine Arts, Nantes; IDHEC, Paris. Career: Art director in films from early 1950s (often in collaboration with Jacques Saulnier); also stage designer, including works directed by Barrault, Rivette, and Hossein; 1961—first of many films for the director Jacques Demy.

Films as Art Director:


La Danseuse nue (Louis) (asst); Douze heures de bonheur (Jupiter) (Grangier) (asst); On ne badine pas avec l'amour (Desailly) (+ costumes)


Le Bel Indifférent (Demy—short)


Les Amants (The Lovers) (Malle) (co)


Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows) (Truffaut); Les Cousins (The Cousins) (Chabrol) (co); A double tour (Web of Passion; Leda) (Chabrol) (co); La Sentence (Valère) (co); Les Jeux de l'amour (de Broca) (co)


Les Scélérants (Hossein) (co); Zazie dans le métro (Zazie) (Malle); Les Grandes Personnes (Time Out for Love) (Valère)


L'Amant de cinq jours (The Five Day Lover) (de Broca); Lola (Demy) (+ costumes); Une Femme est une femme (A Woman Is a Woman) (Godard); Le Rendez-vous de minuit (Leenhardt); Cléo de cinq à sept (Cleo from 5 to 7) (Varda) (+ costumes); L'Année dernière à Marienbad (Last Year at Marienbad) (Resnais) (costumes only)


Vie privée (A Very Private Affair) (Malle); Cybèle, ou les dimanches de Ville d'Avray (Sundays and Cybèle) (Bourguignon); "La Luxure" ("Lust") ep. of Les Sept Péchés capitaux (The Seven Capital Sins) (Demy); Le Combat dans l'île (Cavalier); Le Jour et l'heure (The Day and the Hour) (Clément)


La Baie des anges (Bay of the Angels) (Demy); Le Feu follet (The Fire Within) (Malle)


Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) (Demy); Aimez-vous des femmes (A Taste for Women) (Léon) (designs); L'Insoumis (Cavalier); Comment épouser un premier ministre (Boisrond)


Viva Maria! (Malle); Paris au mois d'août (Paris in the Month of August) (Granier-Deferre)


Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo? (Klein)


Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (The Young Girls of Rochefort) (Demy); Woman Times Seven (Sept Fois Femme) (De Sica); "Mademoiselle Fifi" ep. of Le Plus Vieux Métier du monde (The Oldest Profession) (de Broca)


Adolphe, ou l'age tendre (Roublanc-Michel)


Sweet Hunters (Guerra)


L'Aveu (The Confession) (Costa-Gavras)


Le Bateau sur l'herbe (Brach)


L'Evènement le plus important depuis que l'homme a marché sur la lune (A Slightly Pregnant Man) (Demy); Le Grand Bazar (Zidi); Le Hasard et la violence (Labro)


La Merveilleuse Visite (Carné) (designs)


L'Alpagueur (Labro); Néa (Kaplan); Le Jouet (Veber)


La Vie devant soi (Madame Rosa) (Mizrahi)


Lady Oscar (Demy)


Tous vedettes (Lang)


Chère inconnue (I Sent a Letter to My Love) (Mizrahi); Une Merveilleuse Journée (Vital)


Une Chambre en ville (A Room in Town) (Demy)


Notre histoire (Our Story) (Blier)


La Rumba (Hanin); Thérèse (Cavalier)


Trois places pour le 26 (Demy)


By EVEIN: articles—

Télécine (Paris), no. 104, 1962.

Cinéma (Paris), no. 90, 1966.

Image et Son (Paris), April 1968.

Cinéma (Paris), July/August 1981.

Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), December 1982.

Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), December 1990.

On EVEIN: articles—

Film Français (Paris), 18 February 1977.

Film Français (Paris), 3 February 1978.

Film Français (Paris), 1 March 1982.

Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), no. 342, December 1982.

Positif (Paris), February 1990.

* * *

Until 1960, French production design specialized in elegant but often over-theatrical re-creations of urban life. Into this calm pond, the Nouvelle Vague, with its hit-and-run shooting style, minuscule budgets, and studied naturalism, threw a rock. When the ripples cleared, two designers dominated the remade French cinema. Between them, Jacques Saulnier and his collaborator Bernard Evein—both young, both graduates of the highly theoretical Institut des Hautes Études Cinematographiques—designed for most of the New Wave directors who had any need of (or money for) décor.

Except for Les Quatre Cents Coups, they never worked for the naturalistic Truffaut, nor for Godard, except on his sole attempt at a musical, Une femme est une femme. But Philippe de Broca, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Demy, and Louis Malle used them often, and when the partnership broke up in 1961 after Last Year at Marienbad (Saulnier sets/Evein costumes), Evein became an almost permanent member of Demy's équipe.

Demy's ebullience and Malle's taste for erotic melodrama suited Evein equally well, since both invited forceful visual statements. He wove a colorful high-life cocoon around Brigitte Bardot in Vie privée, but no less skillfully established a mood of wintry despair for a suicidal Maurice Ronet in Le Feu follet and Corinne Marchand in Agnès Varda's Cléo de cinq à sept. Evein's designs of an old pavilion in a choked grove and an orphanage by a frozen lake for Serge Bourguignon's Sundays and Cybèle, the fable of a war veteran's obsession with a young girl, turned the Paris suburb of Ville d'Avray into a chill extension of the Freudian landscape.

Evein's triumphs, however, remain Demy's Lola, Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, and Les Demoiselles de Rochefort. Born near Nantes (where Demy lived as a student), Evein was sympathetic to the movement carrying the Nouvelle Vague away from Paris. The trilogy captures the atmosphere of France's Atlantic coast port towns: cold, wet and empty in winter, but in summer blazing with sun, and filled with sailors and tourists.

Parapluies, and Demoiselles in particular, re-instilled in the New Wave some of its lost thirties theatricality. Both are so perfectly integrated by Demy that it is hard to separate design from lighting, costumes from character, music from story. For the former, Evein repainted the port city's old plaster walls in vivid primaries. The green, rose, red, and purple complement Michel Legrand's parlando operatic score, the photography of Jean Rabier (mainly known for Chabrol's gaudier thrillers) and Demy's sensual direction of the doomed love affair between Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo.

Rochefort, in the warmer south, is equally well exploited in the sprightly Demoiselles. Evein stresses the honey-colored stone of the old town and its pastel shutters, the tones of which he picks up in interiors and costumes of white, pink, and blue—candy colors, just right for this sunny musical. Nothing Evein has done since matches the vividness and visual unity of these delightful films. Sadly, ill-health brought a premature end to Evein's career in 1990.

—John Baxter