- Remembering French film producer René Cleitman, whose credits included multiple Prix César nominee The Horseman on the Roof, and Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominees Cyrano de Bergerac and Close to Eden.
French film producer René Cleitman’s prestigious credits included Cyrano de Bergerac & The Horseman on the Roof
French film producer René Cleitman, whose credits included the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award-nominated hit Cyrano de Bergerac and the period romantic adventure The Horseman on the Roof, both directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, died on Dec. 14 at a Paris hospital. Cleitman (born on May 22, 1940, in Paris) was 64.
René Cleitman received some type of producing credit in nearly 30 features, but in terms of international recognition the 1990 version of Cyrano de Bergerac undoubtedly remains his most notable effort. The lavish period piece based on Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play stars Best Actor Oscar nominee Gérard Depardieu in the title role, in addition to Anne Brochet and Vincent Perez.
Rappeneau was also the credited producer and Cleitman the executive producer on the old-fashionably romantic period adventure The Horseman on the Roof / Le Hussard sur le toit (1995), a multiple Prix César nominee based on Jean Giono’s 1951 novel.
Olivier Martinez stars as the dashing title character, an intrepid Italian nobleman trying to raise funds in France for Italy’s fight against Austria – the sort of role that would have gone to Errol Flynn or Tyrone Power in the Hollywood of the studio era. As a latter-day Olivia de Havilland or Maureen O’Hara, Juliette Binoche plays a chic countess who becomes enamored of the nobleman-turned-fugitive.
More René Cleitman movies
Along with Cyrano de Bergerac and The Horseman on the Roof, René Cleitman’s noteworthy movie credits in various producing capacities include the following:
- Patrice Leconte’s well-regarded crime drama Monsieur Hire (1989), based on Georges Simenon’s Les Fiançailles de M. Hire, and headlining Michel Blanc and Sandrine Bonnaire. (Julien Duvivier had directed a previous adaptation, Panique; the 1946 drama starred Michel Simon and Viviane Romance.)
- Bertrand Tavernier’s post-World War I-set Life and Nothing But / La vie et rien d’autre (1989), winner of the British Academy Award in the Best Film Not in the English-Language category. Best Actor César winner Philippe Noiret stars as a man tasked with the identification of dead soldiers. Like Audrey Tautou in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s A Very Long Engagement, Sabine Azéma and Pascale Vignal are two disparate women trying to uncover the fate of their lost men.
- Nikita Mikhalkov’s Close to Eden / Urga (1992), about the friendship between a stranded Russian truck driver (Vladimir Gostyukhin) and a Mongolian shepherd (Bayaertu) in China’s Inner Mongolia region. Close to Eden was the 1992 European Film Award and Venice Film Festival Golden Lion winner, besides having been shortlisted for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
Doomed project Lost in La Mancha
In front of the camera, the French film producer was seen as himself in Terry Gilliam’s documentary Lost in La Mancha, about Gilliam’s failed attempt to make “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” with a cast that might – or might not – have included Jean Rochefort, Johnny Depp, Vanessa Paradis, and Miranda Richardson.
René Cleitman’s last film, Pale Eyes / Les yeux clairs, is scheduled for a March 2005 release. Written and directed by Jérôme Bonnell, the psychological comedy-drama features Nathalie Boutefeu, Marc Citti, Judith Rémy, Lars Rudolph, Olivier Rabourdin, and nonagenarian veteran Paulette Dubost (Hôtel du Nord, The Rules of the Game).
“Remembering French Film Producer” endnotes
Juliette Binoche and Olivier Martinez The Horseman on the Roof image: AFMD | Miramax Films.
“Remembering French Film Producer of César & Oscar Nominees” last updated in September 2021.