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Barbet Schroeder Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (7)  | Personal Quotes (29)

Overview (2)

Born in Tehran, Iran
Height 5' 11½" (1.82 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Barbet Schroeder was born on August 26, 1941 in Tehran, Iran. He is a director and producer, known for Our Lady of the Assassins (2000), Single White Female (1992) and Murder by Numbers (2002). He has been married to Bulle Ogier since April 1991.

Spouse (1)

Bulle Ogier (April 1991 - present)

Trivia (7)

Born to Jean-William Schroeder, a Swiss geologist, and his wife Ursula, a German physician.
After being engaged to Bulle Ogier for nearly 25 years, he finally married her in Las Vegas in the early 2000s.
Born in Tehran. Grew up in Central Africa and, from the ages of 7 to 11, in Colombia.
Founded the production company 'Les Films du Losange' together with Éric Rohmer in 1962 and produced some of the Nouvelle Vague's most noted features.
Studied philosophy at Sorbonne University.
Directed one Oscar-winning performance: Jeremy Irons in Reversal of Fortune (1990).
Retrospective at the 52nd Hof International Film Festival in 2018 (Oct. 23 - Oct. 28).

Personal Quotes (29)

To get the best performances possible and never miss a moment from a 'magic take' I used two or three cameras crossing each other. It was something new that I had wanted to explore when making the very first feature film shot in HD Video in 1999, Our Lady of the Assassins (2000) with the cameras still shooting at 30 frames per second. Subsequently with [cinematographer] Luciano Tovoli we employed the three-cameras-shooting technique in 2001 in Hollywood for Murder by Numbers (2002), and then on all our other movies after that until Amnesia (2015), which is our eighth collaboration. Luciano managed to find solutions, without ever sacrificing the quality of the image, to the seemingly insurmountable problems of light that that kind of set up creates. But by using this system it meant every actor in every scene was always looking and reacting to the other in front of one of the cameras, so we could not miss any 'magic moment'. [2015]
[on his biography and Amnesia (2015)] I do not speak German and yet it is my mother tongue. I am Swiss and my maternal grandfather is the German philosopher and psychiatrist Hans Prinzhorn, famous for his studies on the art produced by the clinically insane. My mother always categorically refused to speak to me in the language. Therefore, the subject of the film is very close to me but I did not want to make a movie about my mother. Rather, I was interested in showing, via a succession of unsaids between the two characters, the emotional experience of rediscovering love as well as reuniting with one's homeland and especially one's mother tongue. A film, in other worlds, on Martha's reunification and Jo's life education. I spent much of my childhood in Geneva and some years in Colombia, all with a mother who refused to speak to me in what should have been my first language. Paradoxically, German culture was everywhere at home and present in all the reference points I had as I grew up: the country's painting, its poetry and its music, including my mother's cello that would fill the house with its beautiful sound when she played alone pieces by Bach or Schubert. I have often asked my mother to tell me about Berlin in the 1930s when she was there as a girl, to tell me about her school, her Jewish friends who disappeared from one day to the next, about the public benches that were marked "No Jews allowed" and so on. I asked her about how she managed after her father had died to convince her mother, a theatre actress in Berlin, to take a one-way ticket to Zurich in 1936. She settled there, did her studies and met my father, a man from Geneva who did not speak a word of German. He was a geologist and had to leave for work in Iran. She could not stand their separation and so she left Switzerland as the Second World War raged in Europe, and crossed a dozen countries on the train and bus to join him. And so I was born in Teheran.[2015]
In 2014, fifteen years after Our Lady of the Assassins (2000), 35mm is more or less history, but I found myself again exploring things that were even more revolutionary than the beginning of HD Video. Amnesia (2015) is the first European film shot in 6K. This is so exciting not because of the quality of the image - 6K provides three times more image definition than 35mm - but rather for the unlimited editing possibilities 6K allows within the image itself. So I had the pleasure and exhilaration of discovering and exploring anew the most modern possibilities in cinema. This shooting system was essential for being able to capture many of the situations in "Amnesia" that were often full of subtle reactions and unsaids between the characters. [2015]
[on Amnesia (2015)] This film in the most part was shot in the house my mother bought in Ibiza in 1951. We lived there without a fridge, using the petrol lamps for light and drank the rain water collected in the well. At first we stayed there during holidays and then, over time, my mother settled there permanently. This is where I shot my first film More (1969) in 1968. Even today in the summertime you can hear the loudspeakers from the tourist boats that pass from time to time annoucing: "This is where the movie "More" was made, with music by Pink Floyd". The architect Raoul Hausmann was the inspiration behind the house that was built in 1935, faithfully respecting the local architectural traditions. Hausmann lived in Ibiza from 1932 to 1935. He was stunned by the peasant houses of the island, all shaped like white cubes. He went on to write articles on the houses that were published in major architecture journals and magazines, along with photographs and plans of the architectural layout. Shortly after Hausmann, Benjamin, Jean Selz and others arrived in Ibiza. For this community the island represented their ideal of a harmonious life in total accord with the elements of nature. They saw the life of the peasants as an image of aesthetic and human perfection. The house of the movie is nearby to San Antoni, where Walter Benjamin lived. [2015]
[on High Dynamic Range (HDR) technology] Two years ago this technology would have been unthinkable for movies. For the first time in cinema HDR allows you to combine two different exposures in the same shot: one for the interior light and another for the exterior light, which of course is ideal when you are working in a place like Ibiza that has such great contrasts in light.[2015]
[on Amnesia (2015)] It's a chamber piece movie based on emotion and it's a love story without sex and it's completely spiritual. That's already something quite different. It was difficult to work out. You have to build all kinds of suspense and moments that are unspoken. You have to have good actors and a camera on each of them to see how they react in a given moment. And you have to have the whole mechanism worked out in the dialogue, so you're not dealing with improvisation.[2015]
[on Barfly (1987)] We did the editing fast [leading up to the festival]. It was intense in order to make the deadline. The sound mixing wasn't completely perfect. The director of the festival at the time, Gilles Jacob, was hoping that Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway would win the Best Actor and Actress prizes. Cannes is the best promotion for a movie. You have all the buyers and directors from festivals around the world.[2015]
Reversal of Fortune (1990) was financed by a combination of foreign money. Warner Brothers took it for distribution. And they never believed in it until the film went to the Oscars.[2015]
[on testing his films] Every one of my movies went through testing even outside of America, because I need the results to do my editing. (...) I'm probably one of the only directors who enjoys doing them because it helps me with editing. I can tell you it was a disaster for me because I wanted to do one on my thriller Inju: The Beast in the Shadow (2008). I needed to have a reaction from the audience. By myself, I organized a preview screening. My [global sales agent] UGC asked me 'You really want to do that?' Of course, there were people who came and commented that they didn't understand certain parts of the film, which always happens. But then UGC decided immediately that the movie wasn't working. They stopped everything: no more trailers, no more press bookings; not one more cent spent on the film. This is the opposite of what's done in America. You do a preview and you decide how to make the film better after the audience doesn't understand certain parts. Here, that test screening killed the movie. I should have never done it. [2015]
I'm against making rules that one should never do this or that. I think you need to be in your own conscience. One can't start judging from the outside. But I think it's very exciting to be close to something dangerous, like playing with fire.[2015]
[on Terror's Advocate (2007)] It's the history of terrorism, the blind terrorism that started in 1957 in Algiers and then became something unbelievable that became part of our daily life. It's a very perverse movie talking about a perverse man. It gets you to approve the bombs of Algiers and the liberation of Algeria [from French colonial rule] and all this, very moving, I can understand the justification for this. But the minute you have approved that, you are pushed into worse and worse situations, from the Palestinians to Carlos. So you realize it is very dangerous to approve anything in the first place. There is no real difference between that and the [twin] towers. There is a logical thread.[2008]
I take reasonable risks. I know it looks crazy. When I did General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait (1974) the danger was not that Idi Amin would kill me. The danger was that someone would try to kill Idi Amin and I was filming him at the moment. In Idi Amin's eyes, I was somebody in his service trying to do a... puff piece. And then on Our Lady of the Assassins (2000) I had bodyguards for me. I had bodyguards for the equipment, so it was less dangerous than it looked.[2008]
[on The Charles Bukowski Tapes (1985)] I was always waiting for the moment when Hank [Charles Bukowski] would go into one of his short monologues. They were as beautiful, powerful and funny as his writing, and always related directly to personal experience. I considered myself blessed to be there and wished I could share the experience, without disrupting it, with anyone who would enjoy it as much as I did. The frustration of being unable to make a movie I was completely ready to make [Barfly (1987)], led me to keep a record of these evenings using one inch video, which was the best support at the time to film non stop and to forget about the camera was even there. I asked as few questions as possible, always letting the flow of words end naturally.(...)Over a couple of months we shot for five or six evenings, starting with beer and ending with red wine. I can still identify the differences in his speech patterns, depending on what he was drinking, even when the glasses are not visible on screen. But the most extraordinary thing that I have ever witnessed with a drinker is that he became more brilliant, his words acquiring more depth, as we advanced into the drunken night. I never saw him incoherent no matter what he drank or in what amount. I filmed all this, deliberately refusing to cover myself with shots made for editing. I knew it was the man and his words I wanted to communicate, nothing else. When I started the editing alone at night with loaned primitive equipment, I began by selecting my favourites passages. Rapidly I realized that the footage was working like a succession of monologues. This was an unforgettable moment of solitary exaltation. I was even playing with the idea of having discovered a new form: the filmed equivalent of a collection of aphorisms. At the time the DVD did not exist but it was what was missing from this project - the viewer's ability to have the same freedom as a reader does to effortlessly, even randomly, navigate from chapter to chapter.{2004]
I got along great with Idi Amin. But I wouldn't get too close to him. I wouldn't go to dinner at his home, although I was invited. I had to draw the line.[1995]
[on Kiss of Death (1995)] Obviously there's still the noir element of an honest man fighting against dark forces, so we tried to see what the equivalent of a noir movie would be today. I didn't want to do something neo-noir where you use the same vocabulary of shadows and all that. We paid homage to that in passing, but I thought you could obtain the fantastic or surreal quality of noir by being extra-real and extra-sharp visually; you would obtain the dream through hyperrealism. Thanks to [cinematographer] Luciano Tovoli, we tried to have something that is three-dimensional, [with] the maximum depth of field. I really don't like telephoto lenses, anything above 50 or 75 mm.[1995]
I've done movies that were more dramatic, like Single White Female (1992), where camera movement can be part of a building-up of tension. But the problem of distance is exactly the same for me. That's why I don't do many sizes in a scene; I don't do a version very close, another medium-close, and another wide. I try to find exactly the right distance for that moment.[1995]
But usually I work with actors who like to do a few takes. So basically, when I have two takes I consider good, I say, "Okay, we do one now just 'for the pleasure.'" And I encourage the actors to do exactly what they want, no pressure whatsoever, because we already have what we need, let's see what happens. And one time out of five it becomes the take that's in the movie. That's what a good movie is - when you go beyond what was planned and you surprise yourself. That is the drug. You go from surprise to surprise.[1995]
When I see the first assembly, it's always a very painful moment because it doesn't fit, it doesn't correspond to what's in your head, what you were hoping [for]. But soon you find a few things that were preventing you from entering the movie as you dreamed, and you fix it little by little. You know you have great performances, but the maximum is not yet there on the screen, it's interrupted by the cuts or something like that...[1995]
[on The Charles Bukowski Tapes (1985)] I was doing a little bit of an General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait (1974) with him, except that I was not dealing with a monster-killer, just a monster-writer - and somebody I loved completely, without restriction. I just wanted him to take off and do some of his speeches. But to spend an evening with Bukowski was never to spend an evening hearing somebody pontificating alone. He would start on an anecdote, an aphorism, whatever, but then ask other people to contribute; he would always try to include everybody - and people were not always up to his level. I tried to just excerpt his thoughts. When I was editing I was so excited: I thought I had invented a new form, a collection of filmed aphorisms, 50 speeches of three minutes each. Fifty little bits that were self-contained and about something - a consideration of beauty or of pollution, say - and they were all extremely funny. For me, it's a great work and a unique document about Bukowski. It's more than a documentary; there's a strange, mad energy in those tapes. Even he was astonished when he looked at it.[1995]
[on making General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait (1974)] It was straightforward. I said I was working for French TV, that I wanted to do a portrait of him and he should tell me what to show, that we were going to do this together. I consider him co-director because he had many of the ideas. The more I empowered him with responsibility for the movie, the more he got caught up doing it. One of my favorite shots is when he had organized a takeover of the Golan Heights, and this helicopter comes, and the camera is on him and he says, "Film the helicopter!" and points up, and the camera pans to the helicopter. [Laugh.] Wonderful.[1995]
[on Barfly (1987)] It was a wonderful ending. Life was going on. It was the best way to indicate that nothing had changed, he hadn't taken this opportunity that was handed to him to become a successful writer, he had chosen life and love. Like every filmmaker, I've encountered problems with endings. With "Barfly" I knew from the start I had the perfect ending and the perfect shot for it. That is very, very liberating.[1995)
[on Single White Female (1992)] It touched something I'd observed in real life many times, a woman taking on another woman's identity, and that's what convinced me to do the film. I knew this phenomenon was real. At a certain age when personality is not fully formed, since appearance is very important, girls may decide to appear like a woman they admire. Sometimes they end up speaking the same way, using the same words. And then of course with age they become themselves.[1995]
I totally understand actors who want everything completely true for them to be able to perform - to be in a true place in their heads. I'm like that as a director. I couldn't do a period piece, for example, because for me it would cost millions: I would need to feel that everything was true. If I do a period piece I've got to be pretty deluded to think that I'm in reality. If I'm on location or on a very good set, I can believe that.[1995]
[on Inju: The Beast in the Shadow (2008)] It's an extraordinary story by an extraordinary writer [Rampo Edogawa]. He is a Japanese Edgar Allan Poe. I got very excited about this adventure of making a Japanese movie with Japanese crew. There were a hundred people in the crew.[2008]
[on More (1969)] I started thinking about my first movie in 1964. My ideas developed in a kind of disjointed way: I wanted first of all to follow my ideas of how filmmakers worked, in other words make a film on something I knew about. I had already been living in Ibiza for fifteen years, so naturally I chose that location for the film. At that time, I was thinking about a number of stories, stories that involved the figure of the "femme fatale", but a modern "femme fatale". Like a vampire movie. I was also influenced by the story of Icarus whose wings were burnt because he flew too close to the sun...[2015]
I'm trying to escape the condition of the auteur because it's also a trap. Every movie is a new adventure. I try to surprise myself every time I do a movie.[2008]
[on More (1969)] I was pretty confident about the film, in spite of our small budget. Even so, "More" could easily have come to grief because we were making the film in Spain, under the Franco regime. We were obviously shooting in secret: it was vital that nobody knew we were making the film. When it was finished, back in Paris I found out that a hundred people all around the world knew about the film and had kept the secret. For Our Lady of the Assassins (2000), I also came up against pretty draconian conditions on the shoot. [2015]
[on his best memory of More (1969)] Without hesitation, it's Mimsy Farmer's performance at the end. I had wanted a really dramatic scene and it paid off completely.[2015]
[on Charles Bukowski] I saw him in East Hollywood as he was starting to come down, at age 58, from hard liquor to white wine - albeit wine in very large quantities. During our early days working on Barfly (1987), twelve empty bottles of cheap German white were often lying on the ground by 3:00 am. A year later, he never drank before sunset. Later still, he switched to red wine, and then, much later, drank only one bottle every other day. He went back to hard liquor for a very few rare evenings-once at a fancy dinner party for a music promotion at the Beverly Hills Hotel. At a table behind us sat Arnold Schwarzenegger, who Hank tried to provoke into a fight. 'If you're really so tough,' he said to him, 'come outside and show us.' In a panic, Schwarzenegger's press agents were discretely signaling Arnold not to respond. Later, Hank stole a carving knife from the kitchen and 'went after the rich' with it, spitting on arriving Rolls Royces. [Playboy Magazine, March 2010 issue]

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