Claude Henri Jean Chabrol (French: [klod ʃabʁɔl]; 24 June 1930 – 12 September 2010) was a French film director and a member of the French New Wave (nouvelle vague) group of filmmakers who first came to prominence at the end of the 1950s. Like his colleagues and contemporaries Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Éric Rohmer and Jacques Rivette, Chabrol was a critic for the influential film magazine Cahiers du cinéma before beginning his career as a film maker.
Chabrol’s career began with Le Beau Serge (1958), inspired by Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943). Thrillers became something of a trademark for Chabrol, with an approach characterized by a distanced objectivity. This is especially apparent in Les Biches (1968), La Femme infidèle (1969), and Le Boucher (1970) – all featuring Stéphane Audran, who was his wife at the time.
Sometimes characterized as a “mainstream” New Wave director, Chabrol remained prolific and popular throughout his half-century career. In 1978, he cast Isabelle Huppert as the lead in Violette Nozière. On the strength of that effort, the pair went on to others including the successful Madame Bovary (1991) and La Cérémonie (1996). Film critic John Russell Taylor has stated that “there are few directors whose films are more difficult to explain or evoke on paper, if only because so much of the overall effect turns on Chabrol’s sheer hedonistic relish for the medium…Some of his films become almost private jokes, made to amuse himself.” James Monaco has called Chabrol “the craftsman par excellence of the New Wave, and his variations upon a theme give us an understanding of the explicitness and precision of the language of the film that we don’t get from the more varied experiments in genre of Truffaut or Godard.”