Hugo Frey
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Aesthetic vision
in Louis Malle
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Scholars have underlined the problematic nature of identifying a single aesthetic strand in Louis Malle's cinema. There is a strong case to be made that shows that Malle's films conform to a consistent aesthetic pattern that can be traced across the dramatic oeuvre. This chapter explores the key aesthetic components that make up Malle's more general filmic grammar and then questions why despite these consistencies he remains a director who for many film scholars continues to be associated with eclecticism. It highlights other traditions quite distinct from classical realism, that also feature in Malle's work. Understanding the unlikely partnership of surrealism and documentary film-making in Mallean aesthetics is important to any introduction to the director. The dominant mood is classical realism and the most common additional contributory currents to that aesthetic choice are derived from the surrealism and the bold realism of cinéma direct.

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