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Jacques Perrin, who died on April 21, was the godfather of the Grand Mercure cinema in Elbeuf

Jacques Perrin was present at Elbeuf in 1998 and was even the godfather of cinema. (DR Le Grand Mercure)

Occurred on April 21, the death of Jacques Perrin aroused a wave of strong emotion within the great family of the 7th art. Also sponsor of the Mercure d’Elbeuf cinema in 1998 during its renovation, Alain Surmulet, its director, remembers this moment for us and pays tribute to this man whose humanity and discretion were essential.

An ardent defender of independent film production, actor Jacques Perrin was also the iconic dreamy sailor with blond hair in Rochefort or even the handsome caped prince of Donkey Skin. He went to join his illustrious comrades Belmondo and Gaspard Ulliel, this April 21 at the age of 80. Carefully attentive to others, deeply human-oriented, as much quality as the actor, director and producer Jacques Perrin had forged a link with the Mercure d’Elbeuf cinema by agreeing to become its sponsor on Thursday September 17 1998, during its renovation.

Still under the influence of emotion, if only by the simple evocation of this illustrious figure of French cinema, Alain Surmulet, technical director of the Mercure cinema, tenderly shares the vivid memory of a personality whose taste he recalls heightened for discretion and the attention of the other. “I had met him for the inauguration, he had come the following Sunday. It was something important for me because he was one of the first personalities to enter the new Mercure cinema. I had an attachment to it in relation to his filmography but also to his character in Cinéma Paradisio, there are two connivances. »

An enchanted parenthesis at the Richmond Festival

But with the effervescence of such an event, Alain Surmulet, at the moment, has too little time to discuss more fully with him, he will still retain from this precious meeting, an intense emotion which still animates him as much.

However, the happy coincidence of life, some time later, will make him cross paths with Jacques Perrin again at the Richmond French Film Festival in the United States. When he started to leave his projection booth to go to lunch with the French festival delegation, Alain Surmulet sat quietly at the end of a table when suddenly someone asked if she could sit down opposite he was Jacques Perrin…

A parenthesis that the technical director graciously qualifies as enchanting. “We chatted for an hour, it was just me, I can assure you it was a wonderful interlude in a festival. What I remember is his banter and especially his voice, the voice that a storyteller like Noiret or André Dussollier can have. »

Avant-garde animal works

In this memory, Alain Surmulet does not forget to recall, in this respect, the capital importance that Jacques Perrin maintained in film production throughout his career. And for good reason, it was at the age of only 25 that the latter had started producing feature films, including the famous film “Z” which launched the career of filmmaker Costa-Gavras.

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Obviously, a providential man of French cinema relayed to the rank of the most important people of this industry in our country, according to Alain Surmulet. “We couldn’t be more discreet than him. When I saw him at the Richmond festival, he was someone who didn’t speak like that, who didn’t cut, he listened, he observed and that shows in his animal films. Moreover, with such “animal” works such as “Microscosmos” or “Ocean” Jacques Perrin already wanted to be avant-garde on the environmental issues that plague our current society. “Microcosmos is one of his first wildlife and commercial films, but once again nobody thought of doing this originally. He was the only one to do it and that’s the magic of cinema too, we know that very few people have that kind of win. »

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