This book presents Germaine Dulac as one of the few women pioneers of cinema and a committed feminist. It draws on a wealth of archival material – both films and documents – to study Dulac’s ‘behind the scenes’ work on filmmaking and her social/political activism in the field of cinema. The biographical and historical introduction contextualizes Germaine Dulac’s situation at the heart of the avant-garde. Three chapters organize her films and career around the three kinds of cinema that she especially promoted: ‘psychological’, ‘pure’, and ‘documentary.’ The conclusion contrasts Dulac’s contributions with those of Alice Guy Blaché, another early women film pioneer, highlighting their differing paths to recognition.
"What does queer signify in twenty-first-century French film? How are lesbian, gay, and trans* characters represented on screen? The book responds to these questions via the cinema of five emblematic directors: Jacques Martineau, Olivier Ducastel, Alain Guiraudie, Sébastien Lifshitz, and Céline Sciamma. From gay sex at a nudist beach to lesbian love at a high school swimming pool, from gay road trips across France to transgender journeys through time, the films treated in this study raise a host of key questions about queerness in this century. From award-winners such as Stranger by the Lake and Portrait of a Lady on Fire to the lesser-known Family Tree and Open Bodies, these productions gesture toward an optimistic future for LGBTQ characters and for the world in which they live, love, and desire. Comprehensive in scope, Queer cinema in contemporary France traces the development of queerness across the directors’ careers, from their earliest, often unknown works to their later, major films. Whether they are white, beur, or black, whether they are lesbian, gay, trans*, or queer, the characters open up oppressive notions of hetero- and cisnormativity to something new, something unexpected, and something oriented towards the future.
This book provides a comprehensive study of the cinema of Philippe Garrel,
placing his work within the political context of France in the second half of
the twentieth century (including the tumultuous events of May 68) and the
broader contexts of auteur cinema and the avant-garde. Challenging the
assumption that Garrel’s oeuvre exists in direct continuity with that of
Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut et al., this study locates a more radical
shift with Garrel’s predecessors by observing the eclecticism of the influences
absorbed and exploited by the director. In doing so, it explores contexts beyond
French cinema in order to interpret the director’s work, including avant-garde
movements such as the Situationists, Surrealism, Arte Povera and the American
Underground. Acknowledging Garrel’s role as an unofficial historian of the
so-called ‘post-New Wave’, the study equally considers his relationship with
other members of this loose film school, including Jean Eustache, Chantal
Akerman and Jacques Doillon. The book is structured according to both a
chronological and thematic reading of Garrel’s oeuvre. This method introduces
different conceptual issues in each chapter while respecting the coherence of
the various periodisations of the director’s career.
One of the most gifted directors of the post New Wave, Maurice Pialat is frequently compared to such legendary filmmakers as Jean Renoir and Robert Bresson. A quintessentially realist filmmaker, who, like Bresson, was trained as a painter, his particular form of realism influenced an entire generation of young filmmakers in the 1990s. This study of Pialat's cinema in English provides an introduction to a complex and difficult director, who saw himself as a marginal and marginalised filmmaker, but whose films are deeply rooted in French society and culture. Pialat was long considered the only major filmmaker to portray ‘la France profonde’, the heart of France—the people who, as he put it, ‘take the subway’. Taken as a whole, his work can be seen both as an oblique autobiography and the portrait of a fundamental institution—the family—over several generations, from the Third Republic through the end of the nineties. The power of Pialat's realism has often overshadowed his formal originality, and this study gives equal attention to formal issues, including the crucial role of montage in the elaboration of his filmic narratives. It provides a brief biographical sketch of the filmmaker, situating his work in relation to the New Wave and the popular Saturday night cinema of his childhood, as well as giving an overview of the major themes and formal preoccupations of his work. Subsequent chapters provide readings of each of Pialat's full-length films.
Whether one 'likes' his work or not, Bertrand Blier is undisputably an
important and influential presence in modern French film-making. For those who
would understand the nature and function of popular French culture, it has now
become impossible to ignore his work. Blier's career began in 1957 as an
assistant stagiaire, as it was still relatively conventional in the
French film-making tradition. This book hopes to be able to start formulating
some answers to the puzzle that is Blier's work. The aim is to identify
strategies for finding one's way through a body of work, which has
disconcerted spectators, to identify some reference points that the curious
spectator can use as a map to navigate through Blier's preferred themes and
stylistic techniques. One way of understanding the system of dramatic cohesion
that unifies the action of Blier's films is to read it in terms of an
'absurdist' conception. The comic momentum of Blier's films
relies on the elaboration of a system of images which might be termed
'festive-ludic' or 'anarchocomic'. His deliberate attempt to
go beyond the conventional limits of gender representation is as important
example of the many processes of narrative subversion. Discussions reveal that
the key tropes around which Blier's work is structured point to an
engagement with a tradition of popular discourse, translated into both content
and form, which finds an echo in the wider cultural apparatus of the post-1968
period and which is all the more significant for its location in mainstream
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.
One of the key features of Jean-Jacques Beineix's relationship with the film
image is the notion of seduction and the erotic. This book shows Beineix's
films form a coherent body of work and sketches out a psychodrama formed by
Beineix's feature films. It explains, the cinéma du look was placed
by many, including Beineix himself, in a position of confrontation with the
cinema of the nouvelle vague. The book considers the early 1980s debates
concerning the film image which led to the view espoused by Jean-Michel Frodon,
after a brief account of Beineix's apprenticeship years. It attempts to
place Beineix's work within the context of the development of French
cinema, and discourses on the French cinema, as they evolved during the 1980s.
Beineix's first feature film, Diva, enjoyed considerable success,
becoming something of a cult film for the youth audience of the time, as well as
launching the careers of Richard Bohringer and Dominique Pinon. More than any of
the films of the cinéma du look, La Lune dans le caniveau
exemplifies the characteristics Bassan enumerates: a mise en scène, which
privileges exuberance, light, movement, especially the curves and curls of the
camera, and an emphasis on sensation. Bereavement after IP5 turned
Beineix away from feature filmmaking, despite several propositions from American
producers, Alien Resurrection and The Avengers among them.
Film history rightly remembers Jean Vigo for his short and remarkable career as a filmmaker from 1929 to 1934. But the story of his life before cinema, especially his family circumstances and childhood experiences, is no less extraordinary, and it throws an interesting light on the creative years that followed. This book conveys a sense of the awe and enthusiasm that those four films, À propos de Nice, Taris ou la natation, Zéro de conduite and L'Atalante, have inspired among filmmakers, critics, historians, archivists and fans, ever since the tragic death of their creator in 1934. It commences with the key biographical features of Vigo's early life, in particular the traumatic events of his childhood and the violent death of his father. In the following chapters, we shall focus on the quartet of films one by one. The book then discusses how the two short documentaries, À propos de Nice and Taris ou la natation, were an experimental apprenticeship in the art of filmmaking. It also analyses his semiautobiographical fiction Zéro de conduite as a fable of libertarian revolt. The book proceeds to examine how Vigo attempted the transition to mainstream cinema with L'Atalante, his only full-length feature film, discussing some of the most significant reactions that it provoked. Finally, the book situates in post-war French film culture the exceptional critical fortune of quartets, which has transformed the slender corpus of a once almost unknown film-maker into one of French cinema's greatest names.
The study of film as art-form and (to a lesser extent) as industry, has become a popular and widespread element of French Studies, and French cinema has acquired an important place within Film Studies. The adoption of a director-based approach raises questions about auteurism. This book aims to provide informative and original English-language studies of established figures, and to extend the range of French directors known to anglophone students of cinema. Chris Marker began his career as a writer. He entered filmmaking in the first instance as a writer. His finely tuned skills in this capacity are evidenced from the outset in the richness and beauty of his poetic commentaries. The first decade of Marker's filmmaking career encompasses what Chris Darke terms the 'lost period' of his oeuvre. He co-directed one film with Alain Resnais (Les Statues meurent aussi) and directed five of his own (Olympia 52; Dimanche à Pékin; Lettre de Sibérie; Description d'un combat; and Cuba Si!). Marker's idiosyncratic documentaries reassess what the term 'documentary' means. Two key essayist interventions, Lettre de Sibérie and especially Sans Soleil, have earned him a stellar reputation in the manipulation of this personalised form. The rethinking of filmic time and alternative lives in his many and varied works is enabled, rather than blocked, by an engagement with death and stasis. There is certainly something of this in Marker's oeuvre, which aches at times for what was and what could have been.
Chantal Akerman was one of Europe's most acclaimed and prolific contemporary directors, who came to prominence with Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, and 1080 Bruxelles. Her family history is intimately bound up with the horrors of the Holocaust. Akerman was born in Brussels on 6 June 1950, the first child of Jewish Polish immigrants who settled in Belgium in the late 1930s. Filmmaking, for her, was an imaginative and creative engagement with the silence that weighed heavily on her childhood. Behind the multiple guises of Akerman, this book seeks to present a cinema that crystallises questions that are at the heart of our post-war, post-Holocaust, post-feminist sensibility. It identifies the characteristics of her avant-garde work of the 1970s, the period most closely influenced by American structuralist film and performance art. The book surveys her work in the following decade in the context of post-modernism, the new aesthetic of kitsch and the emergence of a new hedonism in Western critical discourses. It is dedicated to her documentary work of the 1990s and 2000s, which sheds light on the central ethical and aesthetic concerns behind her work. The book discusses her attempts to penetrate into the mainstream, her renewed engagement with the themes of love and desire, and her further exploration of the permeable boundaries between autobiography and fiction. What emerges forcefully in Akerman's cinema, is a persistent engagement with the forms and conditions of human existence.