There have been vigorous debates about the condition and prospects of auteur cinema in France over the last decade, debates that seem mostly to have gone unreported in anglophone criticism of francophone cinema. But these have been paralleled by a revival of international debate about the status of the auteur: in their extended chapter on auteur cinema added to the second edition of Cook's The Cinema Book, Pam Cook and Mieke Bernink observe that this was definitely underway by 1995. This book summarises the development of auteurism as a field up to the 1990s, drawing particularly on Wright Wexman's historical overview. Georges Méliès was the first auteur. Following the advent of structuralism and structuralist approaches to narrative and communication in the mid 1960s, a type of auteurism was born that preserved a focus on authorship. The book presents an account of the development of Olivier Assayas' career, and explores this idea of what one might call 'catastrophe cinema'. Jacques Audiard's work reflects several dominant preoccupations of contemporary French cinema, such as an engagement with realism (the phenomenon of the 'new new wave') and the interrogation of the construction of (cultural) memory. The book then discusses the films of the Dardenne brothers and their documentaries. Michael Haneke's films can be read as a series of polemical correctives to the morally questionable viewing practices. An introduction to Ozon's films that revolve around the centrality of queer desire to his cinema, and the continual performative transformations of identity worked within it, is presented.
Toxic Grafity’s punk epiphany as subjectivity (re)storying ‘the
truth of revolution’ across the lifespan
‘Mental liberation issue’:
Toxic Grafity’s punk epiphany
as subjectivity (re)storying
‘the truth of revolution’
across the lifespan
All that follows below is data
Alec Grant (2013)
What was I thinking when, in the summer of 1980, I subtitled issue 5 of Toxic
Grafity the ‘mental liberation issue’?2 As Matt Worley notes, Toxic featured
‘politically charged collage, essays on anarchy and diatribes against state
repression’ in which the music coverage was ‘all but subsumed within a series
of nihilistic ruminations on the inanity of work, the
This book presents a study on François Truffaut's films. It reviews the body of work which foregrounds the main themes and discusses Truffaut's working practices as a director, drawing on his own writing about his film-making. The book commences with an introduction on his first film, Les Mistons. The energy and resilience of children act as vital counters to a morbid preoccupation with death, visible here in the fatal ending to the couple's romantic idyll. By choosing as subject for his film an exploration of the young male's sexual awakening, by situating it in a French provincial town and by adopting the realist mode, Truffaut was making an important statement. The book seeks to situate Truffaut both historically and culturally and the second aiming to give a broad overview of his films and their critical reception. It then provides a closer analysis of one film, Jules et Jim (1961), both as a means to discuss more precisely Truffaut's style of film-making and to provide an example of how a film may be 'read'. The book discusses the 'auteur-genre' tension, the representation of gender, the relationship between paternity and authorship and, finally, the conflict at the heart of the films between the 'absolute' and the 'provisional'. Truffaut's films display mistrust of the institutions that impose social order: school (Les 400 Coups), army (Baisers volés), paternal authority (Adèle H.) and the written language.
In formulating a notion of filmic reality, this book offers a novel way of understanding our relationship with cinema. It argues that cinema need not be understood in terms of its capacities to refer to, reproduce or represent reality, but should be understood in terms of the kinds of realities it has the ability to create. The book investigates filmic reality by way of six key film theorists: André Bazin, Christian Metz, Stanley Cavell, Gilles Deleuze, Slavoj Žižek and Jacques Rancière. In doing so, it provides comprehensive introductions to each of these thinkers, while also debunking many myths and misconceptions about them. Along the way, a notion of filmic reality is formed that radically reconfigures our understanding of cinema.
In terms of the so-called 'clash of civilisations' after '9/11', Islamic states such as Algeria have too often been perceived in the West as 'other' and hence as threatening. This book, via an analysis of cinema, provides a discussion on some misunderstandings and assumptions about Algeria, which remains to a large extent underrepresented or misrepresented in the UK media. It is about Algerian national cinema and illuminates the ways in which the official mythologising of a national culture at the 'centre' of the postcolonial state has marginalised the diverse identities within the nation. Tahia ya didou occupies a pivotal position between fiction and documentary, capturing the hectic modernization of the Boumediene era while reflecting back on the aftermath of historical trauma. La Citadelle presents gender differences as culturally engrained and patriarchal power as secure. Youcef, Bab El-Oued City and Rome plutôt que vous present differing visions of how a Freudian melancholia in the shadow of a crushed revolt might relate to Algerian experience after Black October. Lettre à ma soeur listens to the voices of the subaltern; the film is a sense of re-emergence that follows the initial insurgency of Nabila's activism, the trauma of her killing and the subsequent years of silence and self-imposed incarceration.
The great American film critic Manny Farber memorably declared space to be the most dramatic stylistic entity in the visual arts. He posited three primary types of space in fiction cinema: the field of the screen, the psychological space of the actor, and the area of experience and geography that the film covers. This book brings together five French directors who have established themselves as among the most exciting and significant working today: Bruno Dumont, Robert Guediguian, Laurent Cantet, Abdellatif Kechiche, and Claire Denis. It proposes that people think about cinematographic space in its many different forms simultaneously (screenspace, landscape, narrative space, soundscape, spectatorial space). Through a series of close and original readings of selected films, it posits a new 'space of the cinematic subject'. Dumont's attraction to real settings and locality suggests a commitment to realism. New forms and surfaces of spectatorship provoke new sensations and engender new kinds of perception, as well as new ways of understanding and feeling space. The book interrogates Guediguian's obsessive portrayal of one particular city, Marseilles. Entering into the spaces of work and non-work in Cantet's films, it asks what constitutes space and place within the contemporary field of social relations. The book also engages with cultural space as the site of social integration and metissage in the work of Kechiche, his dialogues with diasporic communities and highly contested urban locales. Denis's film work contains continually shifting points of passage between inside and outside, objective and subjective, in the restless flux.
The ethics and politics of memory in an age of mass culture
Memory is not commonly imagined as a
site of possibility for progressive politics. More often, memory,
particularly in the form of nostalgia, is condemned for its solipsistic
nature, for its tendency to draw people into the past instead of the
present. This is the case, for example, in Kathryn Bigelow’s 1995
film Strange Days , in which the use of memory – usually
The issue of ethnicity in France, and how ethnicities are represented there visually, remains one of the most important and polemical aspects of French post-colonial politics and society. This is the first book to analyse how a range of different ethnicities have been represented across contemporary French visual culture. Via a wide series of case studies – from the worldwide hit film Amélie to France’s popular TV series Plus belle la vie – it probes how ethnicities have been represented across different media, including film, photography, television and the visual arts. Four chapters examine distinct areas of particular importance: national identity, people of Algerian heritage, Jewishness and France’s second city Marseille.
Richard Attenborough has long been recognised as a significant figure in British cinema history and film culture. After his screen debut in the war-time film In Which We Serve, Attenborough's cinema career developed through acting and later through producing and directing to become one of the industry's most renowned figures. Concentrating on his work behind the camera, this book explores his initial role as a producer, including his partnerships with Bryan Forbes in Beaver Films and with Allied Film Makers. Attenborough's own belief and affection for the genre has arguably been responsible for establishing the biopic within the pantheon of recent British cinema. Thus Young Winston captures elements from the action and historical genres, Gandhi and Chaplin from the political and historical, and Cry Freedom the political and action film. Shadowlands combines the heritage, historical and romance, In Love and War the historical, romance and war and Grey Owl the historical and nature/conservation film. A similar fusion of genres can be detected in Attenborough's two war films which both offer an anti-war revisionist perspective. Oh! What a Lovely War merges the historical and action genres, while A Bridge Too Far, in contrast, is a serious and vivid portrayal of war merging with the historical and action genres. Closing the Ring, although based on a true story, merges fiction and reality within a romantic setting.
This book considers Marcel Carne's films within the broader social and political context. It reinvestigates Carné's highly contested position within French film history, and in particular how his films relate to major moments of French cinema such as poetic realism, the tradition of quality and the French new wave. The period from the late 1920s to the end of the 1930s was crucial in Marcel Carné's career: he entered the French film industry, made films now considered his masterpieces, and achieved significant box-office success. The book reflects on the main developments in his career, from his early work as a journalist, amateur filmmaker, and assistant director, to his production of his first feature films, Jenny and Drôle de drame. It also discusses his contributions to poetic realism at the end of the decade, Le Quai des brumes, Hôtel du Nord, and Le Jour se lève. The book also re-examines how Carné fitted into both popular and artistic French cinematic traditions, and his identity as a 'populist filmmaker', an area that has not received sufficient analysis. Redressing the neglect of Carné's postwar work, it highlights its value in bringing about greater understanding of Carné's cinema per se, but also its relationship with broader social, political and cinematic contexts. The book also focuses on charting the main developments that led towards the production of these films, and explains what was specific to Carné's own particular inflection of poetic realist cinema.