This book provides an introduction to French film studies. It concentrates on films which have had either a theatrical or video release in Britain, or which are available on video or DVD from France. Most avant-garde film-makers, including Germaine Dulac, were unable to continue in the 1930s, faced with the technical demands and high production costs of the sound film. Exacerbated by the Depression, and above all by the financial collapse of both Gaumont and Pathé, film production fell from 158 features the previous year to only 126 in 1934, and 115 in 1935. While poetic realism was at its height, a talismanic figure in post-war film was faced with a generally lukewarm reception from critics and audiences. Thanks largely to German finance and also to an influx of filmmakers replacing those who had departed, after 1940 French film. If 1968 marked a watershed in French cinema's engagement with politics and history 1974 did the same for representations of sexuality. In that year, pornography entered mainstream French cinema. Although film-making remains male-dominated in France as elsewhere, 'more women have taken an active part in French cinema than in any other national film industry'. A quarter of all French films made in 1981 were polars, and many of those were box-office successes. French fantasy has had a particular national outlet: the bande dessinée. The heritage film often takes its subject or source from the 'culturally respectable classicisms of literature, painting, music'.
Jean-Luc Godard enjoyed a comfortable and cultured upbringing, acquiring a literary sensibility that would inflect the whole of his career in the cinema. Godard began to study anthropology at the Sorbonne, but dropped out, and the subsequent decade of his life was spent drifting between various occupations. It is this period of Godard's life in particular that has given rise to speculation, rumour and apocryphal stories. Along with other critics at Cahiers du cinéma, including Truffaut, Rivette, Chabrol and Rohmer, Godard's writing on film in the 1950s played an important role in shaping the canon of great film directors that would influence the development of both French and anglophone film studies. A mixture of playfulness and reverent cinematic homage is to be found in the film language that Godard employs in A bout de souffle. The film became famous for its use of jump-cuts, and it may be difficult for today's viewers, familiar with the ultra-rapid editing of music videos and advertising, to appreciate how disruptive this technique appeared to contemporary spectators. Vivre sa vie, like Le Petit Soldat, appears, in places, to appropriate a kind of existentialist narrative form, only to move beyond it into something much stranger and more troubling. Jean-Luc Godard's Masculin féminin is about young people in Paris in the winter of 1965-1966. Godard in the 1970s is doubtless addressing issues such as the nature of capitalism, and the possibilities for revolt. France tour détour deux enfants is a fascinating glimpse of what television could be.
Chair de poule featured young Parisian working-class
men seemingly being left behind by the economic prosperity of the
trente glorieuses; thirty years earlier, Duvivier had injected his populist
films (such as Le Paqubot Tenacity and La Belle équipe) with similar
‘types’. Thus, the book has engaged with key debates in Frenchfilmstudies, notably auteurism, stardom, genre, and questions of the
national and international, and as well as Duvivier’s historical range
and political inflections.
Duvivier’s existential pessimism and misanthropy manifested thematically
interactions between the trajectories used to address (their) cinema and
include: the continuing and recently reasserted dominance within FrenchFilmStudies of constructions of the director as auteur , the
particular debates around the female auteur , the opposition
between contemporary auteur film and popular genre production and
the location of the political in contemporary French film.
’Esquive as multilingual in their own,
if murky, ways.
In multilingual films, it is not so much the mere presence of
ltiple languages on the soundtrack that is significant. Instead,
it is the portrayal of characters adept at moving among different
languages and using them to strategic effect, which renders these
films so important for Frenchfilmstudies. This movement between
languages is studied in a number of forms, particularly code-switching
and translanguaging. Focusing on back-and-forth switching between
languages, code-switching in film refers to passages of
proficiency […] The Frenchfilmstudies its character with thought and patience’ (Landazuri 2016).
Duvivier was able, with La Bandera, La Belle équipe, and Pépé le
Moko, to combine commercial success with personal themes and
approaches. La Bandera and Pépé le Moko were enormously popular
at the French box-office, and La Belle équipe was also a success (see
Crisp 2002: 318–31). Duvivier shows how popular and personal,
genre and auteurism can co-exist, and work dynamically together.
Un Carnet de bal (1937)
Duvivier’s box-office success would continue with Un Carnet de bal