Lisa Downing
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Comedie strategies
From Les Bronzes to Ridicule
in Patrice Leconte
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This chapter explores the strategic uses to which Patrice Leconte puts comedy, by means of a brief assessment of his early film Les Bronzés, which will then be put into dialogue with what is widely considered Leconte's most serious and 'intellectual' film to date, Ridicule. Characterization is one-dimensional in Les Bronzés and Leconte's other early comedies. Stereotype is one of the primary comic devices used in Les Bronzés. The racial stereotype of thieving black natives, the first with which we are presented, may at first appear to suggest a troubling attitude of racism on the part of the filmmaker. The tableau exemplifies in various ways the humour that characterizes the early comedies of Leconte's career, made in collaboration with the café-théâtre group Le Splendid. Ridicule blends performance techniques lifted from the café-théâtre with a presentation of issues such as the function of language, power and ethics.

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