Henri Langlois

Henri Langlois (French: [lɑ̃glwa]; 13 November 1914 – 13 January 1977) was a French film archivist and cinephile. A pioneer of film preservation, Langlois was an influential figure in the history of cinema. His film screenings in Paris in the 1950s are often credited with providing the ideas that led to the development of the auteur theory.[1][2][3]

Langlois was co-founder of the Cinémathèque Française with Georges Franju and Jean Mitry and also co-founder of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) in 1938. Through close collaboration with the Cinémathèque's longtime Chief Archivist, Lotte Eisner, he worked to preserve films and film history in the post-war era. An eccentric who was often at the center of controversy for his methods,[4] he also served as a key influence on the generation of young cinephiles and critics who would become the French New Wave.

In 1974, Langlois received an Academy Honorary Award for "his devotion to the art of film, his massive contributions in preserving its past and his unswerving faith in its future".

Henri Langlois
Henri Langlois
Born13 November 1914
Died13 January 1977 (aged 62)
Paris, France
OccupationCo-founder and director of the Cinémathèque Française
Known forFilm preservation, film archiving, film history. cinephilia
Partner(s)Mary Meerson

Career at the Cinémathèque Française

In 1936 Henri Langlois, Georges Franju and Jean Mitry founded the Cinémathèque Française in Paris, their film theater and museum.[5] It grew from ten films in 1936 to more than 60,000 films by the early 1970s. More than an archivist, Langlois saved many films which were at risk of vanishing. Besides films, Langlois also helped to preserve other items related to cinema such as cameras, projection machines, costumes, and vintage theater programmes. He eventually collected so many items that he donated them in 1972 to the Musée du Cinéma in the Palais de Chaillot, where they covered a two-mile span of film artifacts and memorabilia. The collection was relocated due to damage from a fire in 1997.

During the Second World War, Langlois and his colleagues helped to save many films that were at risk of being destroyed due to the Nazi occupation of France.

Langlois strongly influenced the French New Wave directors François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard,[3] Jacques Rivette, Claude Chabrol and Alain Resnais among others, and the generation of filmmakers that followed. Some of these filmmakers were called les enfants de la cinémathèque ("children of the cinémathèque"), as they could often be found in the front row of packed screenings.

Langlois' romantic attitude to film was in contrast to the scientific approach utilised by Ernest Lindgren at Britain's National Film Archive.[6] Langlois' methods were unconventional. He was accused of having no rational approach to record keeping. The Cinémathèque lost a portion of its collection to a nitrate fire on 10 July 1959. Sources are in conflict as to the cause and the extent of the loss.[6]

In September 1959, a rift developed between the Fédération Internationale des Archives du Film (FIAF) and the Cinémathèque. Langlois had been involved in the founding of FIAF. The dispute between the two bodies was resolved only some years after Langlois had died.[7]

Removal and reinstatement

In 1968, French culture minister André Malraux tried to fire Langlois by stopping funding of the project. Malraux had invited the Soviet Minister of Culture to Paris. Malraux suddenly requested Langlois to privately screen, at the Cinematheque at Palais de Chaillot, for the visiting minister, the original version of a movie—Octobre—by Sergei Eisenstein. Langlois had already programmed the entire week and told Malraux that he could not accommodate the demands of the Soviet minister and that the Cinematheque was not a governmental agency. As an answer, Malraux simply closed the Cinematheque and sent the police against protesters (March 1968, including almost all of the directors of the New Wave; Nicholas Ray was there in person as well.)

Local and international uproar ensued, and even the prestigious Cannes Film Festival was halted in protest that year. Protesters in Paris included the student activist Daniel Cohn-Bendit from University of Nanterre-Paris. Support came in telegrams from renowned directors, from Alfred Hitchcock to Kurosawa to Fellini to Gianni Serra. Malraux eventually reinstated Langlois after intense debate, while reducing museum funding. Truffaut opens Stolen Kisses (1968) with a shot of the shuttered and locked Cinémathèque and dedicates the film to Langlois.

Later life

Paris 13e - place Henri-Langlois - plaque
Place Henri Langlois in the 13th arrondissement in Paris is named in his honour

In 1970, Langlois selected seventy films from the Cinémathèque's collection for inclusion in "Cinémathèque at the Metropolitan Museum," an exhibition in celebration of the Centennial of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition, co-sponsored by the Metropolitan Museum and the City Center of Music and Drama in New York, showed seventy films dating from the medium’s first seventy-five years on thirty-five consecutive evenings from July 29 to September 3, 1970. Langlois selected films for their significance and contributions to the history of filmmaking, including work from official film industries as well as current and early avant garde directors. The program was the most diverse film exhibition held in the United States to date, and was the Museum’s first major undertaking in film.[8]

In 1974, Langlois received an Academy Honorary Award for his lifetime work with the Cinémathèque. He died three years later and is interred in the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris.

Place Henri Langlois in the 13th arrondissement in Paris is named in his honour.

Documentaries about Langlois

In 1970, an English language documentary Henri Langlois was made about his life's work, featuring interviews with Ingrid Bergman, Lillian Gish, François Truffaut, Catherine Deneuve, Jeanne Moreau and others. The film was produced and directed by Roberto Guerra & Eila Hershon.[9]

In 2004–2005, Jacques Richard directed another documentary of Langlois's career, The Phantom of the Cinémathèque.[10] It features interviews with friends, colleagues, academics, and such movie luminaries as Simone Signoret, Godard, Chabrol, Truffaut and his spiritual successor Jean-Michel Arnold.

Bernardo Bertolucci's 2003 film The Dreamers dwells on the firing of Langlois and includes period footage of the events.

See also



  1. ^ "Henri Langlois: Phantom of the Cinematheque". leisurefeat.com.
  2. ^ Truffaut’s manifesto : La Politique des Auteurs Archived 2011-07-07 at the Wayback Machine at Indian Auteur
  3. ^ a b Wollen, Peter (2004). "The Auteur Theory". In Shepherdson, K. J. (ed.). Film theory: critical concepts in media and cultural studie. Routledge. ISBN 0415259738.
  4. ^ "HENRI LANGLOIS, 62, HISTORIAN OF FILM; Director of La Cinematheque Dies-- Founded French Archives in '36 --Collected 50,000 Movies Center of Controversy Eccentric Work Methods". The New York Times. January 14, 1977. Retrieved January 10, 2010.
  5. ^ "La Cinémathèque Française" Archived 2008-03-16 at the Wayback Machine, France Magazine:
  6. ^ a b Roger Smither "Henri Langlois and Nitrate, Before and After 1959" in Smither (ed) This Film is Dangerous: A Celebration of Nitrate Film, Brussels: FIAF, 2002, p.247-55
  7. ^ Smither This Film is Dangerous, p.251
  8. ^ Finding aid for the George Trescher records related to The Metropolitan Museum of Art Centennial, 1949, 1960–1971 (bulk 1967–1970). The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  9. ^ https://movies.nytimes.com/movie/158566/Langlois/overview
  10. ^ NY Times 12 October 2005 "It makes a persuasive case for Langlois as one of the most important figures in the history of film"


  • Baecque, Antoine de; Toubiana, Serge (1999). Truffaut: A Biography. New York: Knopf. ISBN 978-0375400896.
  • MacCabe, Colin (2005). Godard: A Portrait of the Artist at Seventy. New York: Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-21105-0.
  • Myrent, Glenn; Langlois, Georges P. (1986). Henri Langlois: First Citizen of Cinema. Paris: Editions Denoël.
  • Roud, Richard (1983). A Passion for Films: Henri Langlois and the Cinematheque Francaise. London: Secker and Warburg.

External links

Cinémathèque Française

The Cinémathèque Française (French pronunciation: ​[sinematɛk fʁɑ̃sɛːz]) is a French film organization that holds one of the largest archives of film documents and film-related objects in the world. Based in Paris, the archive offers daily screenings of worldwide films.

Dryden Theatre

The Dryden Theatre is located at the George Eastman Museum, in Rochester, New York in the United States.

The theater is the primary exhibition space for showcasing the museum's collection of motion pictures, recent restorations, as well as traveling exhibitions and premieres of new foreign and independent films. To date, more than 16,000 film titles have been screened at the theater.The Dryden Theatre was constructed in 1951 after a donation from George and Ellen Dryden, George Eastman’s niece. The first film to be shown at the Dryden was Jean Renoir’s silent film Nana (1924). The museum's founding film curator James Card (1915–2000) was a pioneer in the archival world and a close friend and confidante of Henri Langlois of the Cinémathèque Française in Paris. Together, they helped contribute to the appreciation of film as an art form.

Today, the Dryden Theatre is one of only a handful in the world certified to project nitrate film and annually hosts the Nitrate Picture Show, a film festival devoted to screening original nitrate film prints.

Fatemeh Motamed-Arya

Fatemeh Motamed-Arya (Persian: فاطمه معتمدآریا‎; born 29 October 1961 in Tehran). She is a multi-award-winning Iranian actress. She first got involved in theater during her teen years, and received her degree in theater from Tehran Art Institute. She is one of the most significant actresses of post-revolutionary Iranian cinema and has been called "one of the most important actresses and filmmakers of Iran." She has been nominated nine times for the best actress award at the Fajr International Film Festival and won the Crystal Simorgh four times.

Georges Franju

Georges Franju (French: [fʁɑ̃ʒy]; 12 April 1912 – 5 November 1987) was a French filmmaker. He was born in Fougères, Ille-et-Vilaine.

Happy (2015 film)

Happy is a 2015 French feature film directed by Jordan Goldnadel, with Isabel Ryan, Vladimir Perrin, Jordan Goldnadel and Léa Moszkowicz.

The film showed at the 2015 Montréal World Film Festival, where it received great reviews. · The film is sold internationally by Wide Management and receives two nominations at the 2016 Prix Henri Langlois (Henri Langlois Awards). The film also integrates the Eye on Films European Label and is released in several countries including the US, the UK, Ireland and South Korea.

Herman Puig

Herman Puig (born German Puig Paredes on 25 February 1928) is a pioneer of male nude photography. Born in Havana, Cuba, where he began his early work, his ascendance comes from Catalonia. He rose to fame in France.

Honorary César

The César Award is France's national film award. Recipients are selected by the members of the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma. The following are the recipients of the Honorary César award since 1976.

Jacques Rivette filmography

Jacques Rivette (French: [ʒak ʁivɛt]; 1 March 1928 – 29 January 2016) was a French film director, screenwriter and film critic. He wrote and directed twenty feature films, including the two-part Joan the Maiden, eight short films and a three-part television documentary. He also acted in small roles and participated in documentaries. After making his first short film, Aux quatre coins, in his hometown of Rouen, Rivette moved to Paris in 1949 to pursue a career in filmmaking. While attending film screenings at Henri Langlois' Cinémathèque Française and other ciné-clubs he gradually befriended many future members of the French New Wave, including François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Éric Rohmer and Claude Chabrol. Rivette's association with this group of young cinephiles led to the start of both his filmmaking career and his work in film criticism. In collaboration with his new friends, Rivette made two more short films and worked as a cinematographer and editor on films by Rohmer and Truffaut. He also worked in small roles and as an assistant director to Jean Renoir on French Cancan and Jacques Becker on Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. During this period he began writing film criticism for the magazine Gazette du Cinéma and later Cahiers du Cinéma, and was one of the most respected writers by his peers.In 1956 Rivette made the short film Le Coup du Berger, which Truffaut credited as enacting the New Wave movement. The following year he began work on his first feature film with the initial support of Italian neorealist director Roberto Rossellini. Paris Belongs to Us was shot in the summer of 1958, but not released theatrically until 1961, after Chabrol, Truffaut and Godard had their feature-film debuts distributed and made the New Wave renowned worldwide. After staging a theatrical version of Denis Diderot's novel La Religieuse starring Anna Karina in 1963, Rivette became the editor-in-chief of Cahiers du Cinéma until 1965. He then began production on a film version of La Religieuse, which led to a lengthy public battle with French censorship over the film's release. Finally released in 1967, the publicity made it financially successful.Rivette was unhappy with La Religieuse and re-evaluated his career, developing a unique cinematic style with L'Amour fou. Influenced by the political turmoil of May 1968, improvisational theater and an in-depth interview with Jean Renoir, Rivette began working with large groups of actors on character development and allowing events to unfold on camera. This technique led to the thirteen-hour Out 1. His films of the 1970s, such as Celine and Julie Go Boating, often incorporated fantasy and were better-regarded. After attempting to make four consecutive films, however, Rivette had a nervous breakdown and his career slowed for several years, with films such as Merry-Go-Round and Le Pont du Nord being difficult productions.During the early 1980s, he began a business partnership with producer Martine Marignac, who produced all his subsequent films. Rivette's output increased from then on, with films such as Gang of Four and La Belle Noiseuse receiving international praise. He continued making films until 2009, retiring after the early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease made the production of 36 vues du pic Saint-Loup too difficult for him to continue. Many of his films are known for their long running time, including the 760-minute Out 1. Almost always at the insistence of the distributors, Rivette edited shorter versions of five of his films and considered some of them to be entirely new films with different meanings.

Jerzy Toeplitz

Jerzy Toeplitz AO (24 November 1909 – 25 July 1995) was born in 1909 in Kharkiv (at that time in Russia). He was educated in Warsaw. After World War II he was the co-founder of the Polish Film School, and later took up an appointment in Australia for the Film and TV School.

Between 1948 and 1972 he was Vice-President of the International Film and Television Council (USA). In 1959, he was a member of the jury at the 1st Moscow International Film Festival. Two years later, he was a member of the jury at the 2nd Moscow International Film Festival.He was also an author and published a number of books which have been translated into many languages. Toeplitz also, for almost 30 years (1948–1971), was the president of the International Federation of Films Archives (FIAF), where he accomplished a very important role, overall in the Cold War conjuncture, especially into a very big crisis of the FIAF's history (perhaps the worst), when Henri Langlois (one of the Cinemathèquè Française's founders) left the FIAF. Toeplitz's job was a very important differential (typical of his generation) because he was a cinema's teacher and a leader of an educational project in the Polish city of Łódź (a reference into the period). This school had a decisive impact on the modern cinema in Poland.

In 1985 he was appointed an Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia for his services to Australian film. In 1986, he was a member of the jury at the 36th Berlin International Film Festival.

Joseph A. Ball

Joseph Arthur Ball (August 16, 1894 – August 27, 1951) was an American inventor, physicist, and executive at Technicolor. He was the technical director of the first color movie Becky Sharp, and a recipient of an Academy Honorary Award at the 11th Academy Awards for his contributions to color film photography. He held many patents in color photography and was credited with creating the three-component process.

La Fête espagnole

La Fête espagnole is a 1920 French silent film directed by Germaine Dulac and written by Louis Delluc. It was cited by critic and film historian Georges Sadoul as being first in ushering in French impressionist cinema.


Langlois or L'Anglois is a surname, and may refer to:

Aimé Langlois (1880–1954), Liberal party member of the Canadian House of Commons

Al Langlois (born 1934), Canadian ice hockey player

Alexandre Langlois (1788–1854), French Indologist and translator

Anabelle Langlois (born 1981), Canadian pairs figure skater

Bruno Langlois (born 1979), Canadian racing cyclist

Charles Langlois (actor) (1692–1762), French actor who spent a large part of his career in Sweden

Charles Langlois (politician) (born 1938), member of the Canadian House of Commons from 1988 to 1993

Charles-Victor Langlois (1863–1929) French historian and paleographer who taught at the Sorbonne

Charlie Langlois (1894–1965), Canadian professional hockey player

Chibly Langlois (born 1958), Haitian cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church

Christian Langlois (born 1963), Film director from Montreal, Canada

Daniel Langlois, Canadian media company founder and philanthropist

Denis Langlois (born 1968), French race walker

Ernest Langlois (1857–1924), French medievalist, professor at the University of Lille

Espérance Langlois (1805–1864), French painter and printmaker

Esther Langlois (1571–1624), Scottish miniaturist, embroiderer, calligrapher, translator and writer

Étienne, stage name of Steven Langlois (born 1971), Warner Music Canada recording artist

Eustache-Hyacinthe Langlois (3 August 1777 – 29 September 1837), French painter, draftsman, engraver and writer

François Langlois (born 1948), Canadian politician and lawyer

François L’Anglois (1589–1647) a French painter, engraver, printer, bookseller, publisher and art dealer

Godfroy Langlois (1866–1928), politician, journalist and lawyer in Quebec

Henri Langlois (1914–1977), pioneer of film preservation and restoration

Hippolyte Langlois (1839–1912), French general and writer on military science

Jean François Langlois (born 1808), New Zealand whaler and coloniser

Jean Langlois (1824–1886), Quebec lawyer, professor, and political figure

Jean-Charles Langlois (1789–1870), French soldier and painter

Joseph Langlois (1909–1964), Liberal party member of the Canadian House of Commons

Joseph-Alphonse Langlois (1860–1927), politician Quebec, Canada and a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Quebec (MLA)

Léopold Langlois (1913–1996), Canadian lawyer and parliamentarian

Lisa Langlois (born 1959), Canadian actress

Lloyd Langlois (born 1962), Canadian freestyle skier

Pascal Langlois, English actor, played supporting roles in television dramas since 1999

Paul Langlois (born 1964), Canadian guitarist

Paul Langlois (Canadian politician) (born 1926), Liberal party member of the Canadian House of Commons

Philippe Langlois (1817–1884), Norman language writer in Jèrriais

Pierre Langlois (canoer) (born 1958), French sprint canoeist who competed in the early 1980s

Pierre Langlois (economist), Canadian economist and political strategist

Pierre Langlois (politician) (1750–1830), merchant and political figure in Lower Canada

Polyclès Langlois (29 September 1814 – 30 November 1872), French writer, cartoonist and painter

Raymond Langlois (born 1936), Ralliement créditiste and Social Credit party member of the Canadian House of Commons

Richard Normand Langlois (born 1952), American economist and currently professor

Stephen Langlois, Chicago area chef and author of Prairie: Cuisine from the Heartland (1991)

Thomas Langlois Lefroy (1776–1869), Irish-Huguenot politician and judge

Yves Langlois (born 1947), member of terrorist group Front de libération du Québec

Lotte H. Eisner

Lotte H. Eisner (5 March 1896, in Berlin – 25 November 1983, in Paris) was a German-French writer, film critic, archivist and curator. Eisner worked initially as a film critic in Berlin, then in Paris where in 1936 she met Henri Langlois with whom she founded the Cinémathèque Française.

Louis Lumière / conversation avec Langlois et Renoir

Louis Lumière is a 66 minute filmed conversation between Henri Langlois, founder and director of La Cinémathèque Française, and the film director Jean Renoir. It was directed by Éric Rohmer in 1968.

Musée de la Cinémathèque

The Musée de la Cinémathèque, formerly known as Musée du Cinéma – Henri Langlois, is a museum of cinema history located in the Cinémathèque française, 51 rue de Bercy in the 12th arrondissement. It presents the living history of moving pictures and pre-cinema, from their origins to the present day and in all countries, with collections of more than 5,000 movie-related objects including cameras, movie scripts and sets, photographic stills, costumes worn by actors, like Rudolph Valentino or Marilyn Monroe, and showed several early movies from the important collection of the Cinémathèque.

P. K. Nair

Paramesh Krishnan Nair (6 April 1933 – 4 March 2016) was an Indian film archivist and film scholar, who was the founder and director of the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) in 1964. He is regarded as the Henri Langlois of India because of his lifelong dedication towards the preservation of films in India. A passionate film archivist, he worked at the NFAI for over three decades, collecting films from India and from all over the world.

He was instrumental in acquiring for the archive several landmark Indian films like Dadasaheb Phalke's Raja Harishchandra and Kaliya Mardan, Bombay Talkies films such as Jeevan Naiya, Bandhan, Kangan, Achhut Kanya and Kismet, S. S. Vasan's Chandralekha and Uday Shankar's Kalpana.

In 2012, Celluloid Man, an award-winning documentary was made on his life and works, by Shivendra Singh Dungarpur.

Salomé (1918 film)

Salomé is a 1918 American silent drama film produced by William Fox and starring actress Theda Bara.

W. Howard Greene

William Howard Greene (August 16, 1895, River Point, Rhode Island - February 28, 1956, Los Angeles, California) was an American cinematographer.

Zbigniew Bzymek

Zbigniew Bzymek (born January 21, 1976) is a filmmaker, experimental theatre and music video artist who lives and works in New York City. He is best known for his film Utopians, which premiered at The 61st Berlin International Film Festival and for winning the Grand Prix at the 31st Rencontres Henri Langlois. He has been called "a young filmmaker to follow" by Stéphane Delorme in the French film journal Cahiers du Cinéma.

Cahiers du Cinéma Directors
Left Bank
Other filmmakers
Theoretical influences
Key films

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