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.
critical boundaries and lieux communs, the more the horizon of fixed
or unifying knowledge withdraws. Cinematographicspace above all, in
its many different forms and guises (screenspace, landscape, diegetic
space, soundscape, spectatorial space, etc.), is fluid and contingent,
liminal and protean. Those films that work most the rich spatiotemporal seams of the cinematic field and extend the parameters of
the frame are precisely those that most engage with – and enter into
– cinematic space as an organic, multi-dimensional and multi-sensory
the consensus surrounding family policy was such at the time that an
advertising company could easily base its advertising campaign (meant to publicise the
company) around the image of children, and cover France’s walls with posters of smiling babies
In the films Coline Serreau made in the 1980s – and she was not alone in
choosing this trend – the target changed. It is no longer the couple, nor the people making up
the couple, who fill the cinematographicspace, it is the child. In this, Serreau has
Un Condamné à mort s’est échappé, Pickpocket and Le Procès de Jeanne
n’étaient pas du même monde’. 47 Culturally,
linguistically, sociologically, spiritually this is self-evident; Bresson’s film
articulates it not through performance or vocal inflection (Jeanne does not
speak with an accent different to her judges), but through its construction
of cinematographicspace. 48 The overlapping of gazes in the five interrogation scenes
sutures, as Oudart puts it, the spectator into the heterogeneity of the
’s Morris and Helen Belkin
Art Gallery website, ‘Magazine Piece(s), 1970,’ University of British Columbia’s
Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, www.belkin.ubc.ca/satellite/magazinepieces-1970, accessed 8 February 2009.
34 Wallace, ‘A Literature of Images,’ n.p.
35 Graham Cairns, The Architecture of the Screen: Essays in CinematographicSpace
(Bristol and Chicago: Intellect Ltd., 2013), pp. 111–16.
36 Christos Dikeakos, ‘Ian Wallace: Selected Works 1970–1987,’ in Ian Wallace and
Christos Dikeakos (eds), Ian Wallace Selected Works 1970–1987 (Vancouver: Vancouver