Guy Austin
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The power of the gaze
in Claude Chabrol
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The gaze simultaneously demonised and celebrated in Masques is that of the apparently all-powerful game-show host, Legagneur. The conflation of the gaze of God and the gaze of television, explored by Claude Chabrol briefly in Inspecteur Lavardin and at length in Masques, is embodied in Dr M by the media tycoon Marsfeldt. Masques continued Chabrol's mid-1980s renaissance under the auspices of the producer Marin Karmitz. But Karmitz refused to produce or even distribute three of Chabrol's next four films, Le Cri du hibou, Dr M and Jours tranquilles à Clichy. In terms of both style and theme, L'Enfer is cinematic where Dr M is televisual. L'Enfer concludes with two endings, one in which Paul kills Nelly, and one in which he fantasises her murder, then recovers his lucidity long enough to realise that he can no longer tell what is real and what is imagined.

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