Having completed Taris ou la natation in January 1931, the 25-year-old Jean Vigo now had two short films to his credit. One was an amateur experimental documentary with a small but significant critical reputation, the other a journalistic commission, which had introduced him to the world of professional filmmaking, and in particular to one of the major French production companies of the early 1930s, Gaumont, Franco-Film and Aubert (GFFA). When Zéro de conduite was shown in public for the first time, at the trade screening in April, the audience's reactions were violently split, mainly along lines of personal loyalty on the one hand, and ideological prejudice on the other. Thus the children appearing in the film, and their parents, were pretty delighted to see themselves portrayed on the screen. Likewise Vigo's extended family of artistic friends and political sympathisers were full of enthusiasm and vociferous approval.
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.