Abstract only
Authors: Fergus Daly and Garin Dowd

Leos Carax's early career was in two complementary ways conducted under the scrutiny of the French film journal Cahiers du Cinéma. In his 1999 television interview with Pierre-André Boutang, Carax touches on many of the qualities of a still developing personal mythology. Carax's first finished film, Strangulation Blues is in the director's own words the student film he never made. The 'autistic' part of 'autistebavarde' as this persona populates the films of Carax must be differentiated from this metaphorical usage. The typology developed by Carax contributes to the characters' withdrawal from verisimilitude; they are presented to us less as formed, reified types, or exemplars than as 'supple individuals'. This book performs a minute dissection of the heterogeneous elements shaped by Leos Carax into works of great complexity and élan in order to isolate the true singularity and originality of his 1980s films, Boy Meets Girl and Mauvais Sang. The haste with which Carax's overbudget film of 1990, Les Amants du Pont-Neuf has been categorised and in certain quarters thereby dismissed, combined with the spectacular budget catastrophe and the myths developed around the on-set events, contributed to a widespread misunderstanding of the film, as well as to a certain blindness among critics as to the merits. The title of Leos Carax's Pola X was an acronym of the title in French of Herman Melville's novel of 1852, Pierre, or The Ambiguities, that is, Pierre, ou les ambiguïtés.

Abstract only
Genesis of Carax’s system
Fergus Daly and Garin Dowd

This introductory chapter on Leos Carax first deals with the early years of the French film director and writer and his auteurism. Carax's early career was in two complementary ways conducted under the scrutiny of the French film journal Cahiers du Cinéma. The Carax of the short films is already amassing the elements designed to authenticate his claims to auteurism: common band of artists and technicians; thematic consistency and credible intertextual references. From a set of basic conceptual operators, his film worlds are built up stage by stage. For filmmakers, the pressing problems were to do with dealing with the ambient 'crisis of representation'. Herman Melville is a resource for Carax and other like-minded filmmakers. Due to his baroque tendencies, Carax is often described by his supporters as a visionary. The chapter also presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of the book.

in Leos Carax
Abstract only
Fergus Daly and Garin Dowd
in Leos Carax
Fergus Daly and Garin Dowd

There has been a general flattening by critics of heterogeneous forms, problems, concerns and types of filmmaking of the 1980s. For this reason many diverse and disparate strands of filmmaking need disentangling. This chapter undertakes such a task by performing a minute dissection of the heterogeneous elements shaped by Leos Carax into works of great complexity and élan in order to isolate the true singularity and originality of his 1980s films, Boy Meets Girl and Mauvais Sang. In terms of Carax's allegiance to the nouvelle vague, there is little doubt that he drew great stylistic inspiration from Jean-Luc Godard. If the Carax-Godard link is examined in detail, it is possible to isolate the following overt influences of Godard on Carax's first films, for the purposes of illustration placing particular emphasis on how Bande à part resonates in Boy Meets Girl.

in Leos Carax
Abstract only
Les Amants du Pont-Neuf and the spectacle of vagrancy
Fergus Daly and Garin Dowd

Leos Carax's overbudget film of 1990, Les Amants du Pont-Neuf, has tended in many accounts to be read as an allegory of social exclusion. This chapter proposes that the haste with which the film has been categorised and in certain quarters thereby dismissed, combined with the spectacular budget catastrophe and the myths developed around the on-set events, contributed to a widespread misunderstanding of the film, as well as to a certain blindness among critics as to the merits. It also offers an alternative to straightforwardly symbolic readings of the film by means of situating it within the context of those philosophical and aesthetic debates with which it maintains continuity. Although fireworks served to display a surplus, which is converted into a transient wasteful display of artifice (feux d'artifice), Carax makes the fireworks sequence the centrepiece of the film.

in Leos Carax
Fergus Daly and Garin Dowd

The title of Leos Carax's Pola X was an acronym of the title in French of Herman Melville's novel of 1852, Pierre, or The Ambiguities, that is, Pierre, ou les ambiguïtés. As for the X, it could be the marker to represent the family name which the character Isabel/Isabelle is denied she being the possible secret progeny of an extra-marital relationship; in this way it could stand for the family secret, therefore an element so central to the naturalist tradition in late nineteenth-century fiction. A combination of three texts of Gilles Deleuze yield a unique insight into naturalism in cinema and help to gain an understanding of Carax's concerns in Pola X. In Pola X, the quest for total fusion is complexified and the world on-screen rendered all the more catastrophic by means of its incestuous aspect.

in Leos Carax