Malle, Louis

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Malle, Louis

Louis Malle (lwē mäl), 1932–95, French film director, b. Thumeries, France. Malle's motion pictures are noted for their nonjudgmental approach to often taboo material, for which he sought to cause the audience to reevaluate its attitudes. The Fire Within (1963), for example, concerns the last hours of a man approaching suicide, Murmur of the Heart (1971) with incest, and Lacombe, Lucien (1974) with the French resistance and collaboration during World War II. Frequently centering on social outsiders, his diverse, innovative, and deeply personal films explore human relationships in a manner that is at once clear-eyed and romantic. Malle began making feature films in France during the 1950s, creating some of his most memorable works during the 1960s and 70s, e.g., The Thief of Paris (1966), Murmur of the Heart, and Lacombe, Lucien. For several years he worked in the United States, where his English-language films included the controversial Pretty Baby (1978), the elegiac Atlantic City (1980), and the hilarious My Dinner with André (1981). Malle returned to France in 1986, where he directed such films as Au Revoir les Enfants (1987) and Damage (1992). He also made several memorable documentaries.

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