Festive madness
The carnival as structuring motif
in Bertrand Blier
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The comic momentum of Bertrand Blier's films relies on the elaboration of a system of images which might be termed 'festive-ludic' or 'anarchocomic'. The films are characterised by the creation of a diegetic universe in which normal orders, relations, roles and positions are routinely reversed. The comic framework of the carnival is apparent in many surface aspects of the films: the enjoyment of the libertarian and the scatological, the debasement of cultural assumptions, the focus on grotesque bodily symbolism, and attacks on social decorum. The concept of 'festive madness', where the observer looks at the world through commonplace ideas and judgements' is central to Mikhail Bakhtin's assessment of the popular carnivalesque tradition, and to a proposed carnivalesque reading of Blier's films. Blier's work it is directly related to the modern forms of this same culture in its dramatic association with the post-1968 Parisian caféthéâtre and Brechtian stage theory.


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