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Contemporary French cinema and the Second World War

Nazi-occupied France, 16 July 1942. The French police arrest 13,152 Jewish residents of Paris and hold them at the Vélodrome d’Hiver before facilitating their deportation to extermination camps, over two-thirds to Auschwitz. Not until 1995, on the fifty-third anniversary of the Vél’ d’Hiv roundup, was the French authorities’ complicity in this event officially acknowledged in a speech by newly elected president Jacques Chirac: ‘France, land of the Enlightenment and of Human Rights … France, on that day, committed an irreparable act.’ Reframing remembrance: Contemporary French cinema and the Second World War argues that Chirac’s speech marked a shift in the way French society, and its filmmakers, commemorated the Second World War. By following Henry Rousso’s model (outlined in Le syndrome de Vichy), viewing historical films as vectors of memory, this book analyses cinematic representations of the Occupation as expressions of commemoration. It charts the evolution of Second World War stories told on French screens and argues that more recent films are concerned with the collective experience of the Occupation, the pedagogical responsibility of historical films and with adopting a self-reflective approach to their narrative structures. With its catalogue-like structure and clear thematic analysis of key concepts such as resistance, collaboration and legacy, Reframing remembrance is an informative and accessible investigation into French cinema and its treatment of the Second World War.

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's Second World War commemorative trajectory would take place in September 2019, that of Jacques Chirac himself. Just like Pisar, Wiesel and Veil before him, Chirac's legacy as a catalyst for the devoir de mémoire was brought to the fore in many tributes. Many obituaries cited his Vél’ d’Hiv speech as a key moment not only for his political career but for French history. Haïm Korsia, France's grand rabbi, praised Chirac's curiosité pour le monde, sa connaissance du judaïsme et son goût pour l

in Reframing remembrance
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’ ( 2005 : 39). In order to consolidate a sense of French national identity, a myth was established to reinforce France's reputation as a collective, unalloyed nation of resistance fighters. This myth was subsequently cemented in numerous French films representing the period. The key focus of this book is to discuss the function of historical films as acts of commemoration and explore how French films about the Second World War made between 1995 and 2015, following a speech delivered by newly elected President Jacques Chirac, shifted the way the Occupation was

in Reframing remembrance
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An introduction to François Ozon
Andrew Asibong

a possibility in France, despite Jacques Chirac’s ongoing presidency. Twelve years later, the right-wing former Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy was elected to the Elysée, a testament to the country’s apparent acceptance of the triumph of a rampant individualistic neo-liberalism. Even if Ozon publicly spoke of the danger posed to the country by Sarkozy, over the period in which the climate for Sarkozy

in François Ozon
From Le Raïd to Jeunesse dorée
Carrie Tarr

, a number of filmmakers tried to combat such discourses, as in the portemanteau anti-racist film Pas d ’ histoire! Douze films sur le racisme au quotidien (2001), Charef’s Marie-Line (2000), and films such as Bernard Dumont’s Ligne 208 (2001) and Gilles de Maistre’s Féroce (2002), which address critically the fascination of the extreme Right. 3 However, although Le Pen was defeated by Jacques Chirac in the second round of the presidential elections

in Reframing difference
Carrie Tarr

, ‘The world is yours’ (‘Le monde est à vous’) in favour of ‘The world is ours’ (‘Le monde est à nous’) is ironic rather than affirmative or hopeful. La Haine’s success is in large measure due to its timing. As Gérard Lefort put it, ‘it hits the right spot in a country still groggy after the coronation of Jacques Chirac’ (Reader 1995 : 14), while Time Out’s critic referred to the ‘liberating sense of a political sore finally finding legitimate filmic

in Reframing difference
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Joseph McGonagle

later qualified their support for some ethnic minority causes (Blatt 1997). The mid-1980s saw the Socialist government adopt a change of tone. Faced with the electoral success of the far-right National Introduction 5 Front party and right-wing politicians competing on an antiimmigration platform, financial incentives to encourage migrants settled in France to return to their country of origin were reinstated in 1984 and new restrictions were introduced on family reunions. Later, the election of Jacques Chirac as Prime Minister of a centre-right government in 1986

in Representing ethnicity in contemporary French visual culture
Piers Robinson, Peter Goddard, Katy Parry, Craig Murray, and Philip M. Taylor

highlight the deceptive nature of the Iraqi regime (Prime Minister’s Office, 2003), but this was rapidly discredited as the ‘dodgy dossier’ when it was found that parts had been plagiarised from a PhD thesis discussing events following the 1991 Gulf War. Meanwhile, Britain and the USA pressed for a second UN resolution that would formally sanction an invasion. However, French president Jacques Chirac announced on 10 March that France would veto any such resolution, denying UN support to any military action against Iraq. The American public favoured an invasion (Benedetto

in Pockets of resistance
Evidence for negotiated and oppositional coverage
Piers Robinson, Peter Goddard, Katy Parry, Craig Murray, and Philip M. Taylor

misguided souls who refuse to support your loved ones’ (‘Safe home’, 20 March 2003: 8). Notably, 41.0% of the Sun’s editorial subjects4 were devoted to attacking the war’s supposed opponents, including the BBC, prominent British anti-war politicians such as Robin Cook, and the UN (‘The useless UN failed miserably to do anything to liberate the Iraqi people. The Security Council ratted on Britain and America and forced us to go it alone’ (‘Cut out UN’s food racket’, 27 March 2003: 10)). The Sun’s most fervent condemnation was reserved for Jacques Chirac, the French

in Pockets of resistance
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Carrie Tarr

tough immigration policies. The return of the Right to power in 1993, followed by Jacques Chirac’s election as president in 1995, saw the introduction of a series of laws restricting the rights of immigrants in France, notably the Méhaignerie and Pasqua laws of 1993 and the Debré law of 1997, which were not overturned when Lionel Jospin and the Left came to power in 1998. The restriction of access to French nationality for the French-born children of foreign

in Reframing difference