Society: cultural barriers
Regarde les hommes tomber, Un prophète and Un héros très discret
in Jacques Audiard
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Perhaps more so than in the case of any other director working today, Jacques Audiard’s cinema speaks to the various ways in which the socially oppressed can experience French society as rigid and hostile. This chapter explores the vision of metropolitan French society that emerges from Audiard’s corpus, with a specific focus on three films in which social structures are a guiding theme: 1994’s Regarde les hommes tomber, 2009’s Un prophète and 1996’s Un héros très discret. The chapter begins with Regarde, Audiard’s first feature, in which the subversion of the film noir and polar genres is linked with reinventions of traditional family structures, social conventions and heteronormative relationships. It then examines the multilingual prison film Un prophète, in which language, violence and culture are interconnected tools that can be mobilised to shift social power relations. Finally it analyses Un héros’s invented Second World War Resistance tale, in which dominant cultural narratives can be manipulated not only in discourses around war and the media, but in cinema itself, to construct stories about the nation and national identity.

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