(Neil Genzlinger’s article appeared in The New York Times, 2/11; Photo: Jean-Claude Carrière in 1999. He had more than 150 film and television writing credits and also wrote books and plays.Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times.)
He was a favorite of Luis Buñuel and other top filmmakers. He also had a fruitful collaboration with the stage director Peter Brook.
Jean-Claude Carrière, an author, playwright and screenwriter who collaborated with the director Luis Buñuel on a string of important films and went on to work on scores of other movies, among them Philip Kaufman’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” (1988), died on Monday at his home in Paris. He was 89.
The death was confirmed by his daughter Kiara Carrière. No cause was given.
Mr. Carrière had barely started in the movie business when he met Buñuel, the Spanish-born director, in 1963 (although he had already won a short-subject Oscar for a 1962 comedy he made with Pierre Étaix, “Happy Anniversary”).
“At the time, he was looking for a young French screenwriter who knew the French countryside well,” Mr. Carrière recalled in a 1983 interview with the writer Jason Weiss.
“I was a beginner,” he said. “I had gone to Cannes, and he was seeing various screenwriters there. I had lunch with him, we got along well, and three weeks later he chose me and I left for Madrid. Since then I haven’t stopped.”
His first project with Buñuel was “Diary of a Chambermaid” (1964), for which the two adapted the Octave Mirbeau novel of the same name. Mr. Carrière continued to work with Buñuel for the rest of the director’s career, including on his last feature, “That Obscure Object of Desire,” in 1977. (Buñuel died in 1983.)
“Quite often the screenwriter has to guess what exactly the film is that the director wants to make,” Mr. Carrière told Interview magazine in 2015. “Sometimes the director doesn’t even know himself. You have to help him find the right thing. That was the case with Buñuel. At the beginning, he was looking around in many different directions, and finally when we went the right way, we felt it.”
Mr. Carrière also collaborated with other top filmmakers, including Jacques Deray (on the 1969 movie “The Swimming Pool” and more) and Louis Malle (on the 1967 film “The Thief of Paris” and others). In the 1970s one of his greatest successes was as a writer of Volker Schlondorff’s “The Tin Drum” (1979), which was adapted from the Günter Grass novel about a boy who, in the midst of the gathering chaos that led to World War II, decides not to grow up; it won the Oscar for best foreign-language film.
In the 1980s he wrote or co-wrote the screenplays for Daniel Vigne’s “The Return of Martin Guerre” (1982), Andrzej Wajda’s “Danton” (1983), Milos Forman’s “Valmont” (1989) and numerous other movies. Among the most recent of his more than 150 film and television credits were “The Artist and the Model,” a 2012 drama directed by Fernando Trueba, and “At Eternity’s Gate,” a 2018 film about Vincent van Gogh directed by Julian Schnabel.
In 2014 Mr. Carrière received an honorary Oscar for his body of work. The citation said that his “elegantly crafted screenplays elevate the art of screenwriting to the level of literature.”
The prolific Mr. Carrière also wrote books and plays, often collaborating with the stage director Peter Brook. His interests knew no bounds.
With Mr. Brook he created “The Mahabharata,” a nine-hour stage version of the Sanskrit epic, which was staged at the Avignon Theater Festival in France in 1985 and then made into a film. He once wrote a book with the Dalai Lama (“The Power of Buddhism,” 1996). He wrote a novel called “Please, Mr. Einstein” that, as Dennis Overbye wrote in a 2006 review in The New York Times, “touches down lightly and charmingly on some of the thorniest philosophical consequences of Einstein’s genius and, by extension, the scientific preoccupations of the 20th century — the nature of reality, the fate of causality, the comprehensibility of nature, the limits of the mind.”