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Author: Michael Temple

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.

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Author: Renate Günther

Marguerite Duras embarked on a second career as a film director in the late 1960s; by then was already a well-known and highly acclaimed novelist and playwright. Bearing in mind this dual influence, this book presents an outline of Duras's early life and of her later political preoccupations, highlighting the relationship between these two dimensions and her films. Duras's aim was to transcend the limitations of both literature and cinema by creating an écriture filmique. Working within the 1970s French avant-garde, Marguerite Duras set out to dismantle the mechanisms of mainstream cinema, progressively undermining conventional representation and narrative and replacing them with her own innovative technique. The making of Nathalie Granger in 1972 coincided with the period of intense political activity and lively theoretical debates, which marked the early years of the post-1968 French feminist movement. India Song questions the categories of gender and sexuality constructed by the patriarchal Symbolic order by foregrounding the Imaginary. Agatha mirrors transgressive relationship and quasi-incestuous adolescent relationship, as the film resonates with the off-screen voices of Duras and Yann Andréa who also appears on the image-track where he represents Agatha's anonymous brother. Her work, both in literature and in film, distinguishes itself by its oblique, elusive quality which evokes her protagonists' inner landscape instead of dwelling on the appearances of the external world.

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Author: Neil Sinyard

This book explores why Jack Clayton had made so few films and why most of them failed to find a large audience. It examines the kind of criticism they generated, sometimes adulatory but sometimes dismissive and even condescending. The book hopes to throw light on certain tendencies and developments within the film industry and of film criticism, the British film industry and film criticism in particular. The fact that Clayton's films fit David Bordwell's paradigm of the art film is one explanation why producers had difficulty with him and why mainstream cinema found his work hard to place and assimilate. Clayton's pictorial eye has sometimes antagonised critics: they often take exception to some aspect of his mise-en-scene. Clayton had come to prominence with Room at the Top, around the time of the British 'Free Cinema' movement and immediately prior to the so-called British 'new-wave' films of the early 1960s from directors such as Tony Richardson and John Schlesinger. Thorold Dickinson's evocation of the Russian atmosphere and, in particular, his use of suspenseful soundtrack to suggest ghostly visitation undoubtedly had an influence on Jack Clayton's style in both The Bespoke Overcoat and The Innocents. The critical controversy concerning the status of Jack Clayton as director and artist is probably at its most intense over The Pumpkin Eater. Clayton stressed the importance of an opening that established right away the situation of 'a woman in crisis' but wanted to delay the Harrods scene so as to build up an atmosphere of suspense.

Renate Günther

Working within the 1970s French avant-garde, Duras set out to dismantle the mechanisms of mainstream cinema, progressively undermining conventional representation and narrative and replacing them with her own innovative technique. However, the experimental impetus of her cinema was not motivated solely by artistic or aesthetic considerations, but also had important political implications. As Prédal has

in Marguerite Duras
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Ian Aitken

and a realist Kracauer, arguing that phenomenology and realism can be discerned within both Kracauer’s early and late writings, as part of a sustained critique of mainstream cinema as a force for both the reinforcement of abstraction and dominant ideology, and the liberation of the subject. In addition to such Kracaurian dichotomies, both European Film Theory and Cinema and Realist Film Theory and Cinema also

in Realist film theory and cinema
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Carrie Tarr

Diane Kurys’ entry into mainstream cinema as a successful twenty-eight-year-old film director is like a fairy story in which the princess herself overcomes the obstacles in the way of her success. Kurys had first turned to writing in the mid-1970s because of dissatisfaction with her life as an actress. She had started to write up her memories of school and adolescence, and was advised by a friend to turn her

in Diane Kurys
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Carrie Tarr

notions of French ‘femininity’ and sexual difference. The contradictions and compromises of her films raise the question, not just of Kurys’ problematic relationship to feminism, but also of the extent to which a woman’s voice can be expressed and heard within mainstream cinema in France. 4 The commercial and critical successes of Diabolo menthe and Coup de foudre , Kurys’ two most incontrovertibly women

in Diane Kurys
Rowland Wymer

mainstream cinema, then The Last of England represents a return to his less formal super-8 films, this time augmented by editing techniques derived from his work on music videos with John Maybury, Richard Heslop, and James Mackay. Rather than starting with a script, he began to accumulate super-8 footage taken at various locations which could later be edited into a significant structure. Much of it was of scenes of urban

in Derek Jarman
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Lonely passions - the cinema of Jack Clayton
Neil Sinyard

producers had difficulty with him and why mainstream cinema found his work hard to place and assimilate. The fit is not simply a generic one, however: it is because Clayton was, in my view, a film artist. The case I make for Clayton in this book is finally, and primarily, an aesthetic one. This might antagonise some readers, and I am not unaware of the dangers of talk of ‘great art’ and ‘masterpieces’ against an

in Jack Clayton
Guy Austin

, nowhere more so than in Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin’s Tout va bien (1972). Tout va bien : new subjects, new forms Godard’s attacks on the consumer society in Week-End and La Chinoise (both 1967) seem in retrospect to have heralded the upheavals of May 1968. In the years that followed he worked with Jean-Pierre Gorin on a number of political projects outside mainstream cinema, usually financed

in Contemporary French cinema