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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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The carnival as structuring motif
Sue Harris

The comic momentum of Blier’s films relies on the elaboration of a system of images which might be termed ‘festive-ludic’ or ‘anarcho-comic’. The films are characterised by the creation of a diegetic universe in which normal orders, relations, roles and positions are routinely reversed; rules of social and dramatic logic are inverted, and contradictions in characterisation and in character

in Bertrand Blier
Scott Wilson

culturally in the image. What does the term ‘image’ mean here? The term ‘image’ stands for the system of cultural perceptions that are determined by the range of capitalist media that articulate social relations. In the world of advertising and marketing, another word for essential is authentic. Robert Goldman and Stephen Papson note in their book Nike Culture (1998: 107) that time and again the authentic is located in images of the ‘other’. But this ‘other’ is itself signified in a locus of alterity, the system of images in which there is an excess of ‘others’. It is

in Great Satan’s rage
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Blier’s ‘second career'
Sue Harris

-evaluation, of dialogue with his own previous works and dramatic techniques, and consciously exploit the earlier work as a key intertext: Un deux trois soldi and Mon homme especially are much richer when read alongside the previous films. The accumulation device that Blier exploits in performance and mise-en-scène is here extended to a system of images and references which directly address the spectator: this echoes the direct

in Bertrand Blier
Sue Harris

Blier’s films share a body of stylistic features which are consistent from film to film. The tendency to construct language, action and characterisation in terms of group action, aggression and transgression results in an overarching anarcho-comic system of images and words which can best be defined as ‘festive-ludic’. Indeed, Blier’s extensive use of techniques of inversion, reversal and subversion with regard to physical

in Bertrand Blier
Abstract only
Sue Harris

‘to-be-looked-at-ness’, that is to say, they do not have an appearance which is ‘coded for strong visual and erotic impact’ (Mulvey, in Mast et al. 1992: 750). In Blier’s system of images, the visual is not straightforwardly equated with the erotic, and Blier actively works against the cinematic tenet that the female subject is always and necessarily an erotic subject, simply by virtue of being female; the female in Blier

in Bertrand Blier
Open Access (free)
Heterogeneous temporalities, algorithmic frames and subjective time in geomedia
Pablo Abend

the world of consciousness: now no philosophical doctrine denies that the same images can enter at the same time into two distinct systems, one belonging to science, wherein each image, related only to itself, possesses an absolute value; and the other, the world of consciousness, wherein all the images depend on a central image, our body, the variations of which they follow. The question raised between realism and idealism then becomes quite clear: what are the relations which these two systems of images maintain with each other? And it is easy to see that

in Time for mapping
Meghji Ali

used to contest the system of images, stereotypes, and representations that continue to subjugate Black people. Anti-racist connections and practice Indeed, looking even closer, we can see that many Black middle-class people use Black cultural capital not only for an ideological battle, but simply as a coping mechanism for living in a society that is inherently racist. In this respect, the Black cultural capital is an anti-racist resource in that it constructs a phenomenological buffer between the Black middle-class individual and the wider racial structure within

in Black middle class Britannia
Open Access (free)
Language games in the Kosovo war
Mika Aaltola

language games are at the core of Western texts, one could expect them to be repeated only in order to install desired beliefs, values and the ‘correct’ spirit within the audience at large. These language games were essential in fighting what has been labelled a ‘legitimate war’ and a ‘humanitarian intervention’, and reinforcing the Western-dominated locus that underlies a specific system of images and

in Mapping European security after Kosovo
Sue Harris

Notre histoire Robert Avranche returns frequently to a source point: an armchair. This technique is extended by Blier to an intertextual system of images across the corpus of his work: images like the shopping trolley in the opening scenes of Les Valseuses and Merci la vie, or scenes like that of the burglary phlegmatically dismissed by the bourgeois proprietor (played by Jean Rochefort) in Tenue de soirée and Un deux

in Bertrand Blier