You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Renee Lichtig, film editor, 86

Cutter collaborated closely with von Stroheim

Renee Lichtig, a film editor and restorer who was Jean Renoir’s head cutter on his late works and who collaborated closely with Erich von Stroheim on the director’s cut of “The Wedding March,” died in Paris Oct.16 following a stroke.

She was 86.

Lichtig’s modest family was intimately involved in the nuts and bolts of filmmaking, despite cinema-related tragedy. She was born in Shanghai where her father bought her a Pathe Baby projector and introduced her to prints of Charlie Chaplin films.

When the family returned to France, her father Arnold, intrigued by the birth of synchronized sound, worked on Gaumont newsreels with pioneering female director Germaine Dulac. When Lichtig was 10, her father died from third degree burns suffered when a fire broke out in an editing room.

Her half-sister Lucie, who died in 1999, was a linguistically gifted continuity director who worked with the cream of American and European directors, including Max Ophuls, Nicholas Ray, John Huston, Joseph Mankiewicz and Jules Dassin. 

Unable to join the ranks of women helmers, Renee turned to film editing and also became France’s first female timer.

In the wake of Lotte Eisner, Mary Meerson and Marie Epstein, Lichtig was the last surviving close female collaborator of Cinematheque Francaise founder Henri Langlois, whose post-war screenings she frequented beside the future members of what would become the French New Wave. 

Lichtig arranged for Langlois to use on weekends the commercial editing rooms where she worked during the week. Lichtig was extremely active in the Cinematheque’s restoration department for years following Langlois’ death in 1977, conserving and restoring hundreds of films between 1978 and 1993.

She was instrumental in restoring Alexandre Volkov’s florid 1927 “Casanova” starring Ivan Mosjoukine. In 1954, Lichtig and Von Stroheim completed the gargantuan task of synchronizing the director’s silent film, “The Wedding March,” to recordings made in 1927.

Thinking the original negative was lost, Jean Renoir had drafted Lichtig to reassemble “The Grand Illusion” from existing prints. ( As luck would have it, the negative, which had been stolen from France by the Nazis and ended up in the Soviet Union after the war, had been returned to the Toulouse Cinematheque by the Russians.)

Lichtig edited Renoir’s last three films: “Le dejeuner sur l’herbe,” “Le testament du docteur Cordelier” and “Le caporal epingle.” Lichtig’s reworking of the initial restoration of Jean Epstein’s 1924 “Coeur fidele” inspired Epstein’s sister Marie, a filmmaking pioneer in her own right, to say “Renee doesn’t restore films — she resuscitates them.”

Forced to leave the Cinematheque in 1993, Lichtig was an honorary member for life of the board of directors. 

More Film

  • 'All These Small Moments' Review

    Film Review: 'All These Small Moments'

    The magic of writer-director Melissa B. Miller Costanzo’s “All These Small Moments” can be found within the intimacy of the scenarios, the authenticity of her earnest characterizations, and the accessibility of the actors’ honest performances. In her deftly polished directorial debut, Costanzo dovetails the primary story about a teen’s coming of age with a secondary [...]

  • Bruce Tufeld Dead: Hollywood Agent and

    Hollywood Agent and Manager Bruce Tufeld Dies at 66

    Bruce Tufeld, a Hollywood agent and manager who once repped stars like Rob Lowe, Laura Dern, and Kelsey Grammer, died Tuesday in Los Angeles as a result of complications from liver cancer. He was 66. The son of respected television announcer Richard “Dick” Tufeld and Adrienne Tufeld, Bruce began his career as an assistant at ICM [...]

  • Bruce Dern

    Film News Roundup: Bruce Dern's 'The Lears' Bought by Vertical for February Release

    In today’s film news roundup, Bruce Dern’s “The Lears” and “Angels Are Made of Light” are acquired, Cold War drama “Stanley Cage” is launched and a documentary about Madonna’s early music career gets a release. ACQUISITIONS Vertical Entertainment has acquired North American rights from NeoClassics Films to “The Lears,” starring Bruce Dern in a modern-day [...]

  • Octavia Spencer Bryce Dallas Howard

    Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard to Reunite for Comedy 'Fairy Tale Ending'

    Octavia Spencer and Bryce Dallas Howard will reunite for the ensemble comedy “Fairy Tale Ending.” Jim Hecht (“Ice Age: The Meltdown) and Tracy McMillan (“Marvel’s Runaways”) are writing the screenplay. Howard will also produce the Universal movie through her Nine Muses Entertainment alongside Eric Carlson and Susan Carlson. Seth MacFarlane and Erica Huggins will produce [...]

  • Robert Smith, Longtime Executive at DuArt

    Robert Smith, Longtime Executive at New York's DuArt Film Labs, Dies at 88

    Robert Smith, a longtime executive with New York’s DuArt Film Labs, died Jan. 11 in Montvale, N.J. He was 88. Smith spent some 62 years with DuArt, the film processing and post-production facility founded in 1922 in the penthouse of an automobile garage in Midtown. Smith rose to president of DuArt before retiring in 2015. [...]

  • Bird Box

    Los Angeles On-Location Feature Filming Surges 12.2% in 2018

    On-location feature filming in Greater Los Angeles expanded impressively in 2018, gaining 12.2% to 4,377 shooting days, according to FilmL.A. Production activity for feature films rose 15.5% to 1,078 shooting days during the fourth quarter, with 146 days coming from projects receiving California tax credits — including Netflix’s “Bird Box,” Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content