Filmmaker Jean-Claude Lord, a pillar of the small and big screen in Quebec, died at the age of 78 last Saturday following a stroke. Known to the general public for directing the first season of the cult series Lance et compte, he also signed several landmark films of the 1970s and 1980s. Here are five to see or watch again.
1.The Doves (1972)
After having signed a controversial first film (Délivrez-nous du mal) in which he explored the question of latent homosexuality in two men (played by Yvon Deschamps and Guy Godin), Jean-Claude Lord obtained his first popular success with Les Colombes, a drama between two families from different social classes. The filmmaker relates an impossible love story between Julien (Jean Besré), a lawyer's son who grew up in a bourgeois family in Montreal, and Josianne (Lise Thouin), a young singer from a working-class background.
With this social drama very freely inspired by the October crisis, Jean-Claude Lord stages a love story between two college students against a backdrop of political activism. By wanting to become politicized, the young hero of the film will become an activist without realizing that he is being manipulated. “I wanted to show that even if you are young and full of good will to want to change the world, you can be manipulated in the same way by people who want to use you for their ends”, indicated the filmmaker in a video interview granted to the Éléphant site: memory of Quebec cinema, in the summer of 2020. Huge popular success at the time (more than 500,000 admissions at the box office), Bingo sparked a lot of discussion when it was released indoors. “I was told that people were yelling at each other after seeing the film,” said Jean-Claude Lord in the same interview.
3.< em> Speak to us of love (1976)
Satirical comedy about the world of showbiz, Speak to us of lovehad the effect of a bomb when it was released in theaters in 1976. Jacques Boulanger plays a disillusioned television host who comes to despise his predominantly female audience. With this film, co-written by author Michel Tremblay, Jean-Claude Lord offers a sharp critique of the world of populist television, an environment he himself frequented at the start of his career working as a film critic at the small screen. Jacques Boulanger denied the film the day after its first public screening at Le Parisien cinema.
Jean-Claude Lord has already admitted to being inspired by ecological disasters that occurred at the time in Japan and Italy to write this environmental thriller centered on a young woman (played by Paule Baillargeon) who works in public relations for a pulp and paper accused of endangering the population of a large city by contaminating drinking water with chemicals. She will try to defend the point of view of her employers until she realizes that she herself is being manipulated. Forty-five years after its theatrical release, this film remains terribly contemporary today.
5. The Frog and the Whale (1988)
A year after directing the first season of Lance et compte, Jean-Claude Lord accepted the offer of producer Rock Demers to direct this family film from the popular Tales for All series. The Frog and the Whale tells the story of a 12-year-old girl with highly developed hearing that allows her to maintain an exceptional relationship with whales and dolphins. Like several other Contes pour tous, The Frog and the Whale has been sold in several countries and has won around twenty awards abroad.
All these films have been restored and digitized by Éléphant: Mémoire du Cinéma Québécois and are available on Videotron's online distribution platforms. Some of them are also on iTunes.