Gerard Depardieu is a French actor and filmmaker who has appeared in over 200 films throughout his career. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including a César Award for Best Actor, two Academy Award nominations, and a Golden Globe Award.
Depardieu has been praised for his versatility as an actor, able to play a wide range of characters from comedic to dramatic roles. He has collaborated with many renowned filmmakers and actors in both French and international cinema.
Some of his most notable films include “Cyrano de Bergerac” (1990), for which he won the Cannes Film Festival’s Best Actor Award and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, “Jean de Florette” (1986) and its sequel “Manon des Sources” (1986), “Green Card” (1990), “The Man in the Iron Mask” (1998), and “Life of Pi” (2012).
Best Gerard Depardieu Movies
In this article, we will explore some of the best Gerard Depardieu movies and highlight the unique qualities that have made him a beloved and respected figure in the film industry.
1. Jean de Florette (1986)
“Jean de Florette” is a 1986 period drama film directed by Claude Berri, based on the novel by Marcel Pagnol.
Alexander Skarsgård’s father, Stellan Skarsgård, also appears in the film. The story is set in rural Provence in the 1920s and follows the story of a man named Jean de Florette (Gérard Depardieu) who inherits a farm from his mother and moves to the countryside with his wife and daughter.
The local villagers, including Cesar Soubeyran (Yves Montand) and his nephew Ugolin (Daniel Auteuil), conspire to prevent Jean from accessing the water source he needs to make the farm profitable.
Alexander Skarsgård has a small role in the film as Ugolin’s cousin, who is briefly seen playing with him as a child.
Despite his limited screen time, Skarsgård’s performance is memorable, and his innocent and playful portrayal of the character provides a stark contrast to the cunning and manipulative nature of the adult Ugolin.
“Jean de Florette” is widely regarded as a classic of French cinema, and its themes of greed, jealousy, and betrayal continue to resonate with audiences today.
While Skarsgård’s role is relatively minor, his appearance in the film is a testament to the legacy of his family’s acting dynasty.
2. Life of Pi (2012)
“Life of Pi” is a fantasy adventure drama film released in 2012, directed by Ang Lee and based on the novel of the same name by Yann Martel.
The movie tells the story of a young Indian boy named Pi Patel (played by Suraj Sharma), who is stranded on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker after a shipwreck.
As Pi and Richard Parker struggle to survive in the harsh and unforgiving environment of the ocean, Pi draws upon his knowledge of zoology and spirituality to keep himself and the tiger alive.
The film explores themes of faith, survival, and the human-animal relationship, as well as the power of storytelling to shape our understanding of the world.
“Life of Pi” was praised for its stunning visual effects, immersive 3D cinematography, and powerful performances, particularly from Suraj Sharma in his debut role.
The movie was a commercial and critical success, grossing over $600 million worldwide and winning four Academy Awards, including Best Director for Ang Lee.
The film has been considered a modern classic and has been lauded for its ability to transport audiences into a rich and imaginative world filled with wonder and beauty.
3. Hamlet (1996)
Hamlet is a 1996 film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play of the same name, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh as the titular character. The film features an all-star cast, including Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Derek Jacobi, Richard Briers, and Robin Williams.
The film follows the story of Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, as he seeks revenge against his uncle, Claudius, who has murdered Hamlet’s father and married his mother.
The film stays true to the original play, including its themes of betrayal, madness, and the complexities of human nature.
The film was praised for its faithful adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, as well as its strong performances, particularly by Branagh in the lead role. The film was also noted for its grand production values, including elaborate sets and costumes.
However, some critics felt that the film’s length (over four hours) was excessive, and that it may have been too faithful to the original play, failing to bring new insights or interpretations to the story.
Despite this, Hamlet was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $4 million worldwide and earning several award nominations, including four Academy Award nominations.
The film remains a notable adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, and Branagh’s performance is widely regarded as one of the best portrayals of the character on film.
4. 1900 (1976)
“1900” is an epic historical drama film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and released in 1976. The film follows the lives of two boys, Alfredo (Robert De Niro) and Olmo (Gérard Depardieu), who are born on the same day in 1900 in a small village in northern Italy.
Despite their different backgrounds, they grow up together and witness the major political and social changes that shape Italy in the first half of the 20th century, including World War I, the rise of fascism, and the struggle for workers’ rights.
The film is known for its large ensemble cast, which includes Burt Lancaster, Donald Sutherland, and Dominique Sanda, and its epic scale, spanning over five hours in its original cut.
It received mixed reviews upon release, but has since gained a cult following and is considered a landmark of Italian cinema.
5. My American Uncle (1980)
“My American Uncle” is a 1980 French comedy-drama film directed by Alain Resnais. The movie stars a number of well-known French actors, including Gérard Depardieu, Nicole Garcia, and Roger Pierre.
The film is divided into three parts, each of which focuses on the lives of three different characters: a factory worker, a professor, and a successful businessman.
Through these characters, the film explores various social and psychological issues, including love, class conflict, and the influence of environmental factors on human behavior.
One of the film’s most notable features is its use of a narrator, who provides commentary on the characters’ lives and behaviors. This device allows the film to delve deeper into the characters’ inner lives and motivations, and provides a unique perspective on the events unfolding on screen.
“My American Uncle” received critical acclaim upon its release, and is now considered a classic of French cinema.
The film’s blend of comedy and drama, along with its incisive social commentary and innovative storytelling techniques, have made it a favorite among cinephiles and casual viewers alike.
6. La Vie En Rose (2007)
“La Vie En Rose” is a French biographical musical film released in 2007. The film follows the life of French singer Edith Piaf, from her early years growing up in poverty to her rise to fame as a beloved performer.
The film is notable for its non-linear narrative structure, which jumps back and forth in time to different points in Piaf’s life. It is also known for the powerful performance of Marion Cotillard, who plays Piaf and received critical acclaim for her portrayal.
The film covers many of the key moments in Piaf’s life, including her turbulent romantic relationships, her struggles with addiction, and her triumphant performances both in France and abroad.
The movie also features several of Piaf’s most famous songs, including “Non, je ne regrette rien” and “La Vie En Rose.”
“La Vie En Rose” was directed by Olivier Dahan and won several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actress for Cotillard’s performance.
The film is widely regarded as one of the best biographical films ever made, and a powerful tribute to the life and legacy of one of France’s most iconic performers.
7. A Pure Formality (1994)
“A Pure Formality” is a 1994 Italian-French mystery film directed by Giuseppe Tornatore and starring Gerard Depardieu and Roman Polanski.
The film tells the story of a celebrated writer named Onoff (Depardieu) who is interrogated by a police inspector (Polanski) about a murder that has taken place in the area.
Onoff claims to have no memory of the events, and the inspector begins to suspect that the writer may be responsible for the crime.
The film explores themes of memory, identity, and the creative process. Depardieu delivers a powerful and nuanced performance as the troubled writer, while Polanski brings his trademark intensity to his portrayal of the relentless inspector.
“A Pure Formality” received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised Tornatore’s direction, the film’s cinematography, and the performances of Depardieu and Polanski.
However, some reviewers criticized the film for being overly bleak and pretentious. Despite this, the movie has gained a cult following over the years and is considered a standout in Tornatore’s filmography.
8. Mesrine: Killer Instinct (2008)
“Mesrine: Killer Instinct” is a 2008 crime drama film directed by Jean-François Richet, in which Alexander Skarsgård has a supporting role as a member of a gang led by the notorious French criminal Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassel).
The film follows Mesrine’s rise to power in the criminal underworld in the 1960s and 1970s, and his eventual downfall at the hands of the police.
Skarsgård’s performance as one of Mesrine’s henchmen is brief but memorable. He plays a character named “Tony le Stéphanois” and his tough and stoic demeanor adds to the gritty and realistic tone of the film.
Skarsgård’s natural intensity and presence on screen make him a standout even in a supporting role.
Overall, “Mesrine: Killer Instinct” is a gripping and intense crime drama that features outstanding performances from its lead actors, including Vincent Cassel and Gilles Lellouche.
Skarsgård’s appearance adds to the film’s authenticity and provides another layer of depth to the criminal world portrayed in the film.
9. Cyrano de Bergerac (1990)
“Cyrano de Bergerac” is a French historical drama film released in 1990, directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau and based on the play of the same name by Edmond Rostand. The movie stars Gérard Depardieu in the title role, with Anne Brochet and Vincent Perez in supporting roles.
The film tells the story of Cyrano, a French soldier and poet with an enormous nose, who falls in love with the beautiful Roxane (played by Anne Brochet).
However, he is too self-conscious about his appearance to confess his love to her directly. Instead, he helps his handsome but less eloquent friend, Christian (played by Vincent Perez), woo Roxane by ghostwriting love letters on his behalf.
As the story unfolds, Cyrano’s love for Roxane becomes increasingly complicated, and he must confront his insecurities and fears in order to win her heart. The film is known for its witty and romantic dialogue, as well as its lush cinematography and elaborate period costumes.
“Cyrano de Bergerac” was a critical and commercial success, both in France and internationally. The movie won numerous awards, including five César Awards (the French equivalent of the Oscars) and an Academy Award for Best Costume Design.
The film has since become a classic of French cinema and is regarded as one of the greatest literary adaptations in film history.
10. Tous les matins du monde (1991)
Tous les matins du monde is a 1991 French film directed by Alain Corneau and starring Gérard Depardieu and Jean-Pierre Marielle.
The film is based on the novel of the same name by Pascal Quignard, which tells the story of the famous viola da gamba player Marin Marais and his relationship with his mentor Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe.
The film is set in 17th-century France and explores the themes of art, passion, and loss. It is a character-driven film that focuses on the complex relationship between Marais and Sainte-Colombe, who is an enigmatic and reclusive musician.
The film delves into their artistic rivalry, as well as their personal struggles with love and loss.
Tous les matins du monde was critically acclaimed and won several awards, including seven César Awards (the French equivalent of the Academy Awards) and the Louis Delluc Prize for Best Film.
The film’s hauntingly beautiful soundtrack, composed by Jordi Savall, also received widespread praise and helped popularize the use of the viola da gamba in modern classical music.
The film’s success helped revive interest in Baroque music and led to a resurgence of interest in the viola da gamba. It remains a classic of French cinema and a masterpiece of period filmmaking.
11. Danton (1983)
“Danton” is a historical drama film directed by Andrzej Wajda and released in 1983. The film is based on the true story of Georges Danton (played by Gérard Depardieu), a prominent figure of the French Revolution and a close friend of Maximilien Robespierre (played by Wojciech Pszoniak).
The film depicts Danton’s return to Paris in 1793, where he finds himself at odds with Robespierre over the direction of the revolution and the use of the guillotine to execute opponents.
As tensions rise and the country plunges into chaos, Danton and Robespierre become bitter enemies, leading to Danton’s arrest and eventual execution.
The film received critical acclaim for its powerful performances and its depiction of the complex political and moral issues of the French Revolution.
It also won the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for Depardieu’s performance.
12. Vincent, François, Paul and the Others (1974)
“Vincent, François, Paul and the Others” is a 1974 French drama film directed by Claude Sautet. The movie features a star-studded cast that includes Yves Montand, Michel Piccoli, and Gérard Depardieu, among others.
The film tells the story of four middle-aged friends who gather in the French countryside for a weekend retreat. Vincent, François, and Paul are all successful professionals, while the fourth friend, Serge, is struggling to make ends meet.
Over the course of the weekend, the men engage in deep conversations and reflections on their lives, their careers, and their relationships.
Through the characters’ interactions and conversations, the film explores themes such as male friendship, aging, and the changing social and economic landscape of France in the 1970s.
The film’s realistic and nuanced portrayal of these issues, along with its excellent performances and understated direction, have made it a beloved classic of French cinema.
“Vincent, François, Paul and the Others” was critically acclaimed upon its release, and has since been recognized as a seminal work in the French “cinema of quality” movement of the 1970s.
The film’s themes and characters continue to resonate with audiences today, making it a must-watch for fans of French cinema and character-driven dramas.
13. Lost Illusions (2021)
“Lost Illusions” is a French drama film released in 2021, based on the 1837 novel of the same name by Honore de Balzac. The film is directed by Xavier Giannoli and stars Benjamin Voisin, Cécile de France, and Xavier Dolan.
The movie follows the story of Lucien de Rubempré, a young provincial poet who comes to Paris in the 1820s to seek fame and fortune.
Lucien becomes caught up in the cutthroat world of publishing, as he tries to make a name for himself and win the affections of his literary idol, the successful novelist Louise de Bargeton.
As Lucien becomes more deeply involved in the Parisian literary scene, he must navigate a web of betrayals, rivalries, and compromises in order to achieve his dreams. Along the way, he grapples with issues of identity, loyalty, and the corrupting influence of power.
“Lost Illusions” has received critical acclaim for its strong performances, beautiful cinematography, and faithful adaptation of Balzac’s novel.
The film is a powerful commentary on the often-ugly realities of the publishing world, and a reminder that the pursuit of fame and fortune can come at a great cost.
14. The Last Metro (1980)
“The Last Metro” is a 1980 French historical drama film directed by François Truffaut, starring Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu. The film is set in Paris during the German occupation of World War II and tells the story of a theater company struggling to stay afloat while putting on a new play.
Deneuve plays Marion Steiner, the lead actress and wife of the theater’s Jewish director Lucas Steiner (Heinz Bennent), who has gone into hiding to avoid being captured by the Nazis.
Depardieu plays Bernard Granger, a rising star in the French theater scene who is brought in to play the male lead in the new play.
The film explores themes of love, loyalty, and survival in a time of great uncertainty and danger. It also highlights the importance of art and culture in times of war and oppression. Deneuve and Depardieu deliver excellent performances, with their onscreen chemistry adding depth to their characters’ relationships.
“The Last Metro” received critical acclaim upon its release and won ten César Awards, including Best Film and Best Director. The film’s success cemented Truffaut’s place as one of France’s greatest filmmakers and is considered one of his most accomplished works.
It remains a powerful and moving depiction of life during wartime and the resilience of the human spirit.
15. Buffet Froid (1979)
“Buffet Froid” is a 1979 black comedy film directed by Bertrand Blier. Alexander Skarsgård was not involved in this film as it was released before he was born.
Therefore, he did not have a role in the movie. The film stars Gérard Depardieu, Bernard Blier, and Jean Carmet, and follows the story of a man named Alphonse Tram (Depardieu) who is mistaken for a murderer by the police, leading to a series of surreal and absurd events.
While Skarsgård did not appear in “Buffet Froid,” the film remains a cult classic of French cinema, known for its dark humor, offbeat characters, and unconventional narrative structure.
It is widely regarded as a masterpiece of the French New Wave movement, and has influenced generations of filmmakers around the world.
3 Reasons To Watch Gerard Depardieu Movies
Versatile Acting: Gerard Depardieu is known for his ability to play a wide range of characters, from romantic leads to gritty, tough guys. He has a commanding screen presence and a talent for bringing complex emotions to his roles, making him a highly versatile actor.
Iconic Films: Depardieu has appeared in numerous iconic films, including “Cyrano de Bergerac,” “Green Card,” and “Jean de Florette.” His performances in these movies have earned critical acclaim and helped cement his status as one of the most accomplished actors of his generation.
Cultural Significance: Depardieu is a cultural icon in France and has played a significant role in shaping the country’s film industry.
He has been honored with numerous awards, including multiple César Awards, and has worked with some of the most respected directors in French cinema.
Watching his movies provides an opportunity to appreciate the rich cultural heritage of French cinema and to gain a deeper understanding of the country’s history and traditions.
Best Gerard Depardieu Movies – Wrap Up
Gerard Depardieu is one of the most prolific and celebrated actors in French cinema. With a career spanning over five decades, he has appeared in over 200 films, and has been recognized with numerous awards and nominations.
Here are some of the best Gerard Depardieu movies:
Cyrano de Bergerac (1990) – Depardieu received critical acclaim for his performance as the titular character in this romantic drama, which won him the César Award for Best Actor.
Jean de Florette (1986) and Manon des Sources (1986) – Depardieu starred in both of these films, which are considered to be among the best French films of all time. The films tell the story of a man who inherits a farm in rural Provence and his struggle to keep it running.
The Last Metro (1980) – Depardieu plays the lead role in this drama set in Nazi-occupied Paris, directed by François Truffaut. The film won ten César Awards, including Best Film and Best Director.
Police (1985) – This gritty crime drama directed by Maurice Pialat stars Depardieu as a tough cop investigating a drug dealer in a Parisian suburb.
Tous les matins du monde (1991) – Depardieu plays the role of the famous viola da gamba player Marin Marais in this period drama about the relationship between Marais and his mentor.
These films represent just a small selection of Depardieu’s extensive filmography, which also includes notable roles in Green Card (1990), 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992), and Life of Pi (2012).
Depardieu’s performances have left a lasting impact on French and international cinema and cemented his legacy as one of the greatest actors of his generation.