Four films of the Dardenne brothers manifest the kind of thematic, stylistic and, indeed, spatial unity that one might typically associate with the figure of the cinematic auteur: La Promesse, Rosetta, Le Fils, and L'Enfant. This chapter discusses the films of the Dardenne brothers and their documentaries. Working in a socio-political context in which social relations seem condemned to violence and in which there seems no available language with which to name injustice, the fictions seek to show a way out of the real that they might otherwise seem merely condemned to inhabit. The chapter addresses this central question, by ethical choices that reopen a fragile sense of alternative possibility. The documentaries sought to explain, prolong and question a leftist tradition of struggle. The later fictions operate in the ruins of the working class and in the absence of the politics of which they were seen as the vanguard.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book considers memory as a specific framework for the study of popular film, intervening in growing debates about the status and function of memory in cultural life and discourse. It examines the relationship between official and popular history and the constitution of memory narratives in and around the production and consumption of American cinema. The book explores the political stakes of cinematic discourse in its production of national memory. It also examines the discursive and institutional apparatus that has come to support the memory of Classic Hollywood in British cultural life. The book also considers both the presence of music and colour in nostalgia films of the 1990s and the impact of digital and video technologies on the representational determinants of mediated memory.