Guy Austin
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in Contemporary French cinema
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Since Aristotle, there has been 'a long history of criticism that has viewed comedy as inferior to other genres in Western culture'. Within the French film industry, the critical denigration of genre cinema, the dominance of a realist aesthetic and the lasting influence of la politique des auteurs have all contributed to the neglect of comedy. The most important attempt to theorise the importance of comedy in Western culture is Mikhail Bakhtin's work on the sixteenth-century French writer Rabelais. In The Art of Rabelais, Bakhtin describes how a universal strand of comedy developed in the Middle Ages and continued into modern times in popular forms such as carnival and 'grotesque realism'. Verbal humour is not limited to the catchphrases which punctuate Le Père Noël as they do Les Visiteurs. During the 1980s several directors were making popular comedies with little or no connection to café-théâtre.

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Contemporary French cinema

An introduction


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