Laurent Cantet is of one France’s leading contemporary directors. He probes the evolution and fault-lines of contemporary society from the home to the workplace and from the Republican school to globalized consumption more acutely than perhaps any other French film-maker. His films always challenge his characters’ assumptions about their world. But they also make their spectators rethink their position in relation to what they see. This is what makes Cantet such an important film-maker, the book argues. It explores Cantet’s unique working ‘method,’ his use of amateur actors and attempt to develop an egalitarian authorship that allows other voices to be heard rather than subsumed. It discusses his way of constructing films at the uneasy interface of the individual, the group and the broader social context and his recourse to melodramatic strategies and moments of shame to force social tensions into view. It shows how the roots of the well-known later films can be found in his early works. It explores the major fictions from Ressources humaines to the recent Foxfire, Confessions of a Girl Gang. It combines careful close analysis with attention to broader cinematic, social and political contexts while drawing on a range of important theorists from Pierre Bourdieu to Jacques Rancière, Michael Bakhtin and Mary Ann Doane. It concludes by examining how, resolutely contemporary of the current moment, Cantet helps us rethink the possibilities and limits of political cinema in a context in which old resistances have fallen silent and new forms of protest are only emergent.
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.
fundamental ambiguity of this type of politicalcinema seems to me to be the following:
in the end it relies in an artistic and dramatic judgement while logically a truly politicalcinema should rely above all on political judgement even while he considers that if you
believe that politicalcinema has a function, one can only note with satisfaction that a film
like Etat de siège exists (Martin 1973 : 59). 25 There is also a growing tendency to
extend criticisms retroactively.
As the decade advanced, support for the genre declined
Rocha’s ‘An Esthetic of Hunger’ (1965); Julio García Espinosa’s ‘For an Imperfect Cinema’ (1970); Fernando Birri’s ‘Cinema and Underdevelopment’ (1967) and Tomás Guitérez Alea’s ‘The Viewer’s Dialectic’ (1988). Whereas ‘Towards a Third Cinema’ attempted to draw a blueprint for a tricontinental politicalcinema, these other, less stringent manifestos called for an activation of national identity through film and the development of an aesthetic that would more closely reflect the subaltern experiences of first nation and indigenous peoples. Where Solanas and Getino
networks for didactically oppositional politicalcinema. Whilst closely
aligned with the identification of ‘fragmentary stories of small
groups and marginalised individuals evicted from broader solidarities,
stripped of a public voice’ (ibid.: 3), these films do not
foreground the central characteristics of what might be broadly termed
‘oppositional cinema’. These studies of déliaison
lead to alternative comic books, while most
of the sources for the film, as has already been noted, are cinematic
(genre films) rather than literary.
Acción mutante is an all-out assault on what De la Iglesia has called
the ‘conspiracy of boredom’ (Ordóñez 1997, 73) in Spanish cinema, by
which he means the hegemonic literary-politicalcinema of the 1980s.
This might be an exaggeration on De la Iglesia’s part were it not for the
fact that the sort of cinema he excoriates was ultimately endorsed and
sponsored by the Spanish state from the mid-1980s. When the PSOE
Positif than the politique des auteurs espoused by
Cahiers du Cinéma , and was sceptical of the over-emphasis on
style and the over-valuing of Hollywood directors by English auteurists,
but he was even more dubious about the opposite camp of
‘commitment’ critics who wanted an openly politicalcinema
and retained the Documentary Movement’s hostility to popular
commercial cinema. He argues for an
La caza/The Hunt and El jardín de las delicias/The Garden of
Querejeta were aware that the complexities of the script and film form employed in The Garden of Delights would ensure that the censors, expecting it to have a limited appeal, would treat it leniently. Of course, it is impossible now to speculate with any authority on the film’s impact on Spanish audiences at the time; nevertheless, we do know that direct politicalcinema was simply not an option for filmmakers who remained in Spain.
There is no common aesthetic strand linking the films; The Hunt fuses Brechtian techniques with an Italian neo-realist aesthetic in a
, Michel de (1962) Œuvres complètes, Paris: Gallimard.
Nehamas, Alexander (2010) ‘The Good of Friendship’, Proceedings of the
Aristotelian Society, 110:3, 267–94.
O’Shaughnessy, Martin (2008) The New Face of PoliticalCinema, New York:
18 Robert Guédiguian
Rorty, Amélia (1993) ‘The Historicity of Psychological Attitudes: Love Is
Not Love Which Alters Not When It Alteration Finds’, in Neera Kapur
Badhwar (ed.), Friendship: A Philosophical Reader, Ithaca, NY: Cornell
Sahuc, Stéphane (2011) Parlons politique: Maryse Dumas
protests: and the theory that repressive structures extend into the private domain
is explicit and quite carefully theorised in Godards work from 1973 onwards. It recurs in
many forms and guises, serving as the underlying assumption of many apparently intimate but
profoundly political films, 12 and it had an enormous influence in widening the scope of political
cinema and in initiating a new view of traditional situations. It was also, of course, the
most vital theoretical assumption of the womens movement, which gathered strength