In the documentary L'Univers enchanté de Jacques Demy/The World of Jacques Demy, Catherine Deneuve paid the filmmaker an actress's greatest compliment when she described him as 'the charming prince who woke Sleeping Beauty'. Deneuve's fairy-tale metaphor also pays homage to Demy's own playful description of his filmmaking style. Cinéma en-chanté: the pun communicates on several levels. Demy's cinema has the rare quality of appealing to adults and to children, to cinephiles and the general public alike. In these early Demy films, enchantment communicated just as subtly the unsettling nature of the screen image that was beginning to take shape for Deneuve. Demy's Donkey Skin is arguably an equal source of the tale's iconic status in France today, and largely because of Deneuve. Against Donkey Skin's sets, Deneuve's costuming establishes the narrative trajectory of this psychedelic dream, an imposed dream that necessarily becomes her own.
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.