Paul GrimaultOccupation / Title:
23/03/1905Date of death:
Paul Grimault studied graphic design at the School of Applied Arts in Paris, though soon after graduating his friends directed him towards animation. He began, as many early animators, doing short films for advertisement. He and Andre Sarrut decided to start a production company together to produce these advertising films, which they called Les Gemeaux.
In 1941, while France was under German Occupation, Grimault used pieces of an advertisement they had been working on for Air France to make an independent animated short film. This attempt can be seen as a preview of a new wave of French animation which was to come following WWII. This group of animators would collectively aim to make films which did not merely translate comic art directly to the screen. Instead, these new animated films would draw more on graphic arts and have a far more cinematic quality to them.
Grimault continued to create animated shorts in the postwar years. These films include Le marchand de notes (The Note Seller, 1942), L’epouvantail (The Scarecrow, 1943), Le voleur de paratonnerres (The Stealer of Lightening Conductors, 1945), La flute magique (The Magic Flute, 1946) and Le petit soldat (The Little Soldier, 1947).
For Le petit soldat (1947), Grimault hired an old friend, Jacques Prevert, to do the design. Due to the successful partnership between the two, they decided to work together on an animated feature film, called La bregere et la ramoneur (The Shepherdess and the Chimneysweep, 1953). Work on the film took far longer than expected, however. As money was rapidly running out, Grimault’s partner Sarrut decided that the film needed to be released immediately. Seeing as the film had not even been completed, it did poorly both in France and abroad. While it had been regarded as a potential breakthrough film for French animation, then, it was ultimately a great disappointment—indeed, as soon as Sarrut pushed for its release, both Grimault and Prevert both disowned the film.
Grimault stopped working on animation for a long period following the unsuccessful release of La bregere et la ramoneur. In 1967 however, he began work on it again, redesigning and finally finishing the film. He also produced a handful of animated shorts while working on redesigning La bregere et la ramoneur. The film was then re-released in 1980 under a new title, Le roi et l’oiseau, and was finally a resounding success. Grimault made one more animation during his career, another feature film called La table tournante (The Turning Table, 1988).