Biography of Jacques Feyder (1885-1948)

Director of Belgian cinema, born on July 21, 1885 in Ixelles, and died in Prangins (Switzerland) on 25 May 1948, whose real name was Jacques Fréderix, although he is best known in the film world as Jacques Feyder.


Although born in Belgium and considered together with André Delvaux as the most excellent of the directors of that country, many historians also as a member of the history of French cinema links it.

On the death of his mother and still young, showed their desire to launch the career of actor, which led him to deal with his father. This was to prohibit using the surname and he then changed his Frédérix, by Feyder, which would become famous.

Shortly before the first world war served in Lyon, where he met who would become his wife, the actress Françoise Rosay. He subsequently worked in Paris participating in the Louis Feuillade the vampire movie. In 1916 hired him as director the famous producer Gaumont, which made a lot of films, which, although they have been lost or forgotten, constituted a good test bench where to showcase their talent and forge your personality. Called up he participated in activities of the Belgian army, both on the front as organizer of theatrical activities.

1920's is the first major film in his career, Atlantis. Filming was conducted in the desert. Although their professionalism and skill are demonstrated, the work has endured evil the passage of time. She emphasizes the interpretation of Stacia Napierkowska.

In 1922 made Crainquebille, based on join novel by Anatole France, which collected accolades from the own David W. Griffith. For some time Feyder insisted roll literary adaptations, such as for example Carmen, starring the then popular Spanish singer Raquel Meller; probably sought, relying on the prestige of the titles, get a nod of critics and the public. Despite all Feyder knew to give its adaptations of the film enough pace to make the translation of the text was not a mere carbon copy.

In 1928 the Americans, always attentive to the figures which emerged in Europe, offered a contract to work on the other side of the Atlantic. The offer came from the hand of the MGM and the Franco-Belgian director settled in California.

However, the machinery of large studies imposed working conditions to which Europeans were adapted with certain difficulties: press conferences, luxury hotelier, but projects had not just materialize. Nevertheless, the titles ended up coming and Feyder worked with Greta Garbo in her last silent film (The Kiss, 1929). He befriended stars like Murnau, Jannings and others. But despite everything, the Feyder decided to return to Europe, as they had not just adapt to the forms of labour of large studies. The return took effect in 1932.

Already in Europe began a collaboration with Charles Spaak, Belgian writer of great prestige in the 1930s and 1940s, Member of a prominent family of actors and politicians. The sign of death (1934) was the result of its first meeting. The narrative effect of a blond woman, appeared after chestnut and the treatment of the subject, forged the history of what years more afternoon would be Vertigo. Then came Pension Mimosas (1935), another work of great success, where his wife, Françoise Rosay, had an outstanding performance.

This year it will produce that will be the greatest triumph of his career and one of the films summits of European cinema in the first half of the century. It is La Kermesse heroica, a film that describes a story of Spanish thirds in Flanders and filmed in a tone of comedy, was a brilliant exercise of setting in scene, interpretation and description of characters. The film won important awards and endorsed the personality of Feyder as one of the directors with greater talent of the time.

As a result of the success, he was called to England, by the powerful Alexander Korda, to roll the adaptation of a novel by James Hilton entitled La condesa Alexandra (1937). Although the protagonists were again prestige actors such as Robert Donat and the ambiguous Marlene Dietrich, Feyder returned to stumble over the hex that failed is the same success when he was in France that when he did so in another language.

In 1939 Feyder moved north of the Arctic circle to perform sequences of the North Act. There was the outbreak of the second world war, and the film was already released in the 1940s with the title of the track from the North.

During the war, and especially during the occupation of France, Feyder moved to Switzerland where he filmed a woman disappears (1941), in which Françoise Rosay played four different women.

After the war, he entered a bad period. It has never been collaborationist, but there was who considered that he had fed some kind of sympathy by the Germans. Although it was never formulated any kind of accusation, I certainly suffered a depressive period, where the work escaseó for it. The marriage had to then make use of the activity of the wife, who performed theatrical tours in France and North Africa, with texts written by the husband. While Feyder was dedicated to the teaching of the cinema in Geneva and to write a book about film.

When came back to Paris, the Franco-Belgian director already not returned to be the same as before. The war left deep footprints both moral and intellectual. There was also a new generation calling scenarios, tastes, on the other hand, they were changing and Feyder felt old and tired.

Their latest collaboration for cinema was in Macadam (1946), where he conducted an artistic supervision, as the film's director was Marcel Blisténe.

The most important directors of Belgium disappeared with his death. It was always a man of sober, elegant - it is anecdotal today admire old photographs of Feyder managing with vest, tie up to the hat and intelligent. Comedy and drama, his hands were always beautiful and credible.


Short films:

1915: Mr. Pinson policier. 1916: Tetes de femmes, femmes de tete; You bluff; Le pied qui entreint; A conseil d'ami; L'homme de compagne; L'instinct est Maître; Tiens vous êtes Poitiers?; Le frère de lait; Abregeons le formalites!; Le billard Cassé; Buchu.1917 trouvaille: Le pardessus de demi-saison; Les vieilles femmes de l'hospice. 1929: Faute d'orthographe.


1927: Au pays du roi lepreux.

Feature films:

1920: Atlantis. 1922: Grainquebille.1923: the other mother. 1925: L'image; Gribiche.1926: Carmen.1928: Thérèse Raquin. 1929: Les nouveaux messieurs; The kiss. 1931: The son of destiny; When you wake up. 1934: The sign of death. 1935: pension Mimosas; The Christmas heroica.1937: La condesa Alexandra. 1938: Payasos.1939: the law of the norte.1941: A woman disappears. 1946: Macadam.

Other works:

1925: Poil du carotte. 1929: Gardiens de phare. 1930: Anna Christie (German and Swedish American film version); The Green spectrum (French version of the film The unholy night); If the Emperor knew (co-writer of the French version of the film His glorious night); Olympia (German version of the film His glorious night). 1935: Die klugen frauen (German version of the heroic bazaars). 1938: Fahrendes volk (German version of clowns).


ALCALÁ ZAMORA, José. Spain, Flanders and North Sea (1618-1639). (Barcelona: Planeta, 1975).

BACHY, Victor. Jacques Feyder. (University of Leuven, 1966).

FORD, Charles. Jacques Feyder. (Paris: Seghers, 1973).

SÁNCHEZ GONZÁLEZ, S. "Spain in Flanders through the kermesse heroica", in Journal of information science No. 7 (Madrid: 1993).

S. Sánchez González