Bertrand Blier

Author: Sue Harris

Whether one 'likes' his work or not, Bertrand Blier is undisputably an important and influential presence in modern French film-making. For those who would understand the nature and function of popular French culture, it has now become impossible to ignore his work. Blier's career began in 1957 as an assistant stagiaire, as it was still relatively conventional in the French film-making tradition. This book hopes to be able to start formulating some answers to the puzzle that is Blier's work. The aim is to identify strategies for finding one's way through a body of work, which has disconcerted spectators, to identify some reference points that the curious spectator can use as a map to navigate through Blier's preferred themes and stylistic techniques. One way of understanding the system of dramatic cohesion that unifies the action of Blier's films is to read it in terms of an 'absurdist' conception. The comic momentum of Blier's films relies on the elaboration of a system of images which might be termed 'festive-ludic' or 'anarchocomic'. His deliberate attempt to go beyond the conventional limits of gender representation is as important example of the many processes of narrative subversion. Discussions reveal that the key tropes around which Blier's work is structured point to an engagement with a tradition of popular discourse, translated into both content and form, which finds an echo in the wider cultural apparatus of the post-1968 period and which is all the more significant for its location in mainstream visual culture.

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