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Brach dies at 79

Scribe known for 'Name of the Rose,' Polanski pics

PARIS — French screenwriter Gerard Brach, who penned Jean-Jacques Annaud’s “Quest for Fire” and “The Name of the Rose” and nine of Roman Polanski’s features, died Sept. 9 in a Paris hospital of cancer. He was 79.

In a nation where the writer-director is king, Brach stuck to scripting, providing the written templates for well-regarded visual stylists.

In addition to Polanski (“Repulsion,” 1964; “Cul de sac,” 1966; “The Fearless Vampire Killers or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck,” 1967; “What?” 1973; “The Tenant,” 1976; “Tess,” 1979; “Pirates,” 1986; “Frantic,” 1988; “Bitter Moon,” 1992) and Jean-Jacques Annaud (“The Bear,” 1988; The Lover,” 1992), he worked with Marco Ferreri (“Bye Bye Monkey,” 1977), Michelangelo Antonioni (“Identification of a Woman,” 1982), Andrei Konchalovsky (“Maria’s Lovers,” 1984; “Shy People,” 1987) and Claude Berri (“The Two of Us,” 1968; “Jean de Florette” and “Manon of the Spring,” 1986).

Brach stepped behind the camera only twice, in 1970 for “La maison,” starring Michel Simon, and a year later for “Le bateau sur l’herbe,” starring Jean-Pierre Cassel. Neither film made much of a commercial dent.

Brach, who was born in the Paris suburb of Montrouge in 1927, contracted tuberculosis at age 18 and spent five years in a sanatorium, reading voraciously and investigating the surrealism movement that would influence his work.

Brach worked as a production assistant in the 1950s, then as an inhouse publicist at 20th Century Fox from 1959-1962.

In 1963, Polanski asked him to write “La Riviere de diamants” for the omnibus film “The World’s Greatest Swindles” and a three-decade partnership was born.

Brach, who had agoraphobia from the early 1970s on, rarely left his Paris apartment, resulting in a mystical insularity some believe is reflected in his writing.

Annaud is currently in production on Brach’s final screenplay, the French-language “Sa majeste Minor,” (His Majesty Minor), lensing in Spain.

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