In 1972 Carle produced his greatest commercial success, La Vraie Nature de Bernadette, a film that earned him recognition in Europe. Following on this success he planned 2 films with his new star Carole LAURE, La Mort d'un bûcheron (1973) and Les Corps célestes (1973).
A skilled director, Carle made films with varying budgets and designed for various outlets. In 1975 he blended eroticism, romanticism and fantasy to create the fresh and original La Tête de Normande St-Onge. L'Ange et la femme (1977), produced on a small budget, defied the conventions of commercial cinema and had a mixed reception. In 1980 he tried his hand at musical comedy with Fantastica. The following year, his production of Les Plouffe, adapted from Roger LEMELIN's TV series, was enthusiastically received - followed in 1984 by Le Crime d'Ovide Plouffe. After a dramatized documentary on chess players, Jouer sa vie (1982), Carle tackled another Québec literary classic, Louis HÉMON's Maria Chapdelaine (1983). In 1985 he directed a dramatized documentary on the 25th anniversary of French production at the NFB (Cinéma, cinéma) and another on Picasso (O Picasso).
In 1985 he began to alternate between commercial films and commissioned documentaries, in most of which his partner, the actress and singer Chloé Sainte-Marie, appeared. He also produced several videos featuring her. La Guêpe (1986), which revisited his youthful style, was not well received. After a gap of 5 years, he took up fiction again with a mediocre telefilm, Miss Moscou (1991), followed by a more ambitious work, La Postière (1992). After 2 telefilms (French co-productions) in the series "Aventures du Grand Nord,"L'Honneur des grandes neiges (1994) and Le Sang du chasseur (1994 - an adaptation of James Oliver Curwood) he brought out, again with Sainte-Marie, Pudding chômeur (1996), a burlesque and cynical comedy that scorns the quest for happiness and faith and shows that Carle was a filmmaker who took great pleasure in filming.
Documentaries made in the 1990s include a comic-historic piece on the Devil, Le Diable d'Amérique (1990) - part of a series made for the 350th anniversary of Montréal - and a powerful series of 13 hour-long programs on Québec history, Épopée en Amérique: une histoire populaire du Québec (1997). In 1998 he released an autobiographical filmography called Moi, j'me fais mon cinéma, in which he used his own films as archival material to tell his life story, comment on his own work and retrace the development of a cinematic creation.
Gilles Carle won more than 25 GENIE AWARDS and Canadian awards. His film ONF 50 ans (1989), celebrating the 50th anniversary of the NFB, won the Palme d'Or for short films at Cannes. He received the Prix Albert-Tessier, the highest recognition of the Québec government for the film world. The GOVERNOR GENERAL'S AWARD for Lifetime Artistic Achievement was given to Carle in 1997, and in 1998 the CINÉMATHÈQUE QUÉBÉCOISE paid exceptional homage to this figurehead of Québec cinema, whose output included 50 films and videos made since 1961. He was appointed an officer of the ORDER OF CANADA in 1998. Gilles Carle was honoured in 2001 by being awarded LE PRIX JUTRA. In 2007 he was the recipient of the NATIONAL ORDER OF QUÉBEC, and was decorated by France with the Légion d'honneur for his immense talent.
Author PIERRE VÉRONNEAU
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Veteran Quebec filmmaker Gilles Carle dies
A CBC obituary for legendary Quebec filmmaker Gilles Carle.