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Author: Sue Harris

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 visual culture.

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Sue Harris

The director Bertrand Blier has, over a thirty-year period, come to be acknowledged as one of the most enduring and challenging talents of French post-new wave cinema. In that time, he has enjoyed a fruitful, if volatile, relationship with both critics and the viewing public, being variously feted and derided, applauded and jeered for his provocative approach to modern film-making. His commercial success

in Bertrand Blier
Sue Harris

Bertrand Blier was born in Paris on 14 March 1939. As was still relatively conventional in the French film-making tradition, his career began in 1957 as an assistant stagiaire (trainee assistant). Promoted by Serge Vallin, a friend of his actor father Bernard Blier (a well-known and well-loved character actor with a long and distinguished career in France) and assistant to leading directors such as

in Bertrand Blier
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Sue Harris

That Bertrand Blier is misogynistic in his film-making has increasingly come to be a given of Blier criticism and reviews. Indeed, in a review of Gaston Haustrate’s monograph on Blier, published in the French Review, John Anzalone noted that ‘with the exception of Eustache and Pasolini, Blier has probably produced more films deemed offensive than any other mainstream European director’ (Anzalone, 1990 ). This

in Bertrand Blier
Sue Harris

’. References Alion , Yves ( 1986 ), ‘ Entrenen avec Bertrand Blier ’, Revue du cinéma 417 , June . Audé , Françoise and Jeancolas , Jean-Pierre ( 1989 ), ‘ Entretien avec Bertrand Blier ’, Positif, May . Austin , Guy ( 1994 ), ‘ History and Spectacle in Blier’s Merci la vie ’, French Cultural Studies 5 , 73–84 . Bazin , André ( 1994 ), Qu’est-ce que le cinéma?, Paris , Editions du Cerf . Blier , Bertrand ( 1980 ), Buffet froid, Avant

in Bertrand Blier
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The carnival as structuring motif
Sue Harris

remarkable in the way in which it challenges ingrained perceptions of modern popular cultural expression as inherently apolitical. 1 An early version of parts of this chapter appeared in Chapter 8: ‘The people’s film-maker? Théâtre populaire and the films of Bertrand Blier’ in Perry and Cross ( 1997 ). 2

in Bertrand Blier
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Sue Harris

12 Bertrand Blier on the set of Un deux trois soleil

in Bertrand Blier
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Blier’s ‘second career'
Sue Harris

. Haustrate , Gaston ( 1988 ) Bertrand Blier, Paris , Edilig . Pagnon , Gérard ( 1991 ) ‘ Merci la vie ’, Télérama 2148 , 13 March, 26–7 . Spira , Alain ( 1997 ) ‘ Bertrand Blier envoie valser le cinéma pour le théâtre ’, Paris Match, 18 September, 3–5 . Toubiana , Serge ( 1991 ), ‘ Entretien avec Bertrand Blier ’, Cahiers du cinéma 441 , 21–7 . Vecchi , Philippe ( 1993 ) ‘ J’aime les places où il n’y a pas un arbre ’, Libération, 18 August, 25–6 .

in Bertrand Blier
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Sue Harris

and Popular Culture: Bertrand Blier’s Les Valseuses (1973) ’ in Susan Hayward and Ginette Vincendeau , French Film: Texts and Contexts, 2nd edn, London and New York , Routledge , 213-26 . Lefèbvre , Henri ( 1968 ) La Vie quotidienne dans Ie monde moderne, Paris, Gallimard . Rigby , Brian ( 1991 ) Popular Culture in Modern France: a Study of Cultural Discourse, London and New York , Routledge . Ross , Kristin ( 1996 ) Fast Cars, Clean Bodies: Decolonization and the

in Bertrand Blier
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Lisa Downing

generic traditions are created. One can argue, for example, that Tango (1992), far from being just a road movie, uses techniques of parody, pastiche and intertextual citation (from the bande dessinée and from the cinemas of Bertrand Blier, Luis Bunuel and Alfred Hitchcock) to reflect upon both the construction of masculine archetypes and attitudes in twentieth-century culture, and upon conventions of filming. The blend of

in Patrice Leconte