Film, Media and Music

Stations, screens, and tunnels
Michael Gott

This chapter starts with a Paris station to follow multidirectional flows crisscrossing and traversing national spaces. French space is a crucial crossroads in contemporary Europe and the chapter also aims to show that Paris, a cultural, economic, and symbolic centre of France, is not just a destination but also a border space that – like the nation itself – has been ‘decentred’ in many ways that are reflected in screen media. From this starting point in Paris, the chapter uses case studies to consider how borders are represented and forged or deconstructed on screen. Claire Simon’s 2013 documentary Géographie humaine and its companion fiction feature Gare du Nord, both about and set in the eponymous station, are the subject of the first part of the chapter. The second discusses how the Gare du Nord fits into the wider European border puzzle that connects to the port city of Calais and the nearby Channel Tunnel, one of France and Europe’s most visible margins, on to the UK, and then more circuitously to central and eastern Europe. Two films, Francuski numer (Robert Wichrowski, 2006) and Somers Town (Shane Meadows, 2008), and the series The Tunnel (2013-2018) illustrate the link between the station and some of Europe’s most fraught hard and soft borders. The discussion of The Tunnel, which spans the pre- and post-Brexit era, allows me to consider some fundamental differences between the ways that films and ongoing series respond to changing border discourses.

in Screen borders
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Comedies and tragedies
Richard Rushton

As was revealed in Chapter 2, Smiles of a Summer Night ends happily. Yet, such happy endings are not the case for many of Bergman’s most famous films: Summer with Monika (1953), Through a Glass Darkly (1961), Persona (1966), The Passion of Anna (1970), Autumn Sonata (1978) and others. This chapter focuses closely on The Passion of Anna in order to detail some aspects of what had been described in previous chapters as ‘tragedies of remarriage’. The chapter’s arguments are guided to some degree by Stanley Cavell’s theorisations on these issues, where love is considered a ‘best case of acknowledgment’ while tragedy is considered as the consequence of a ‘failure of a best case of acknowledgment’. The chapter brings out issues pertaining to the latter in a discussion of Bergman’s film, while touching on a range of other of Bergman’s films along the way. The chapter also introduces some other reflections on love, most notably from Julia Kristeva (from her Tales of Love), Sigmund Freud, and Jacques Lacan (from his seminar on Transference).

in Modern European cinema and love
Acknowledgment and deception
Richard Rushton

This chapter examines Ingmar Bergman’s 1955 film, Smiles of a Summer Night, in some detail. It is primarily guided by Stanley Cavell’s reflections on the film as made in a short essay published in 2005. Here, Cavell provides some key links between the Hollywood comedies of remarriage and a modern European film. The chapter then expands on these ideas by trying to fathom an answer to the questions what is love, and where does love come from? Broadly speaking, the answers given are that love is based on fantasy – the fantasy one person has of another – and that the origin of love is ‘deceptive’ meaning that love is not natural and cannot be proven. The chapter sets the ground for a range of issues that will subsequently be explored in the other chapters of this book.

in Modern European cinema and love
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Acknowledgment and connectedness
Richard Rushton

The Introduction outlines the main themes of the book, based for the most part on notions of acknowledgment, love and remarriage taken from the philosophy of Stanley Cavell. It also discusses, at length, Leo Bersani’s theories pertaining to connectedness, and, to a large extent, the chapter is built around making a clear distinction between the notions of acknowledgment and connectedness. The Introduction is also framed by a key statement taken from French film scholar Geneviève Sellier. In her book on the French New Wave, Masculine Singular, Sellier at one point writes of Agnès Varda’s Cléo from 5 to 7 that ‘each person is constructed through the encounter with another’. Sellier’s statement is taken as something of a guiding thread for the book.

in Modern European cinema and love
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Michael Gott

The introduction outlines the social and political context of shifting borders within post-2004 (EU enlargement) Europe. It engages with concepts from cultural geography, border studies, sociology, and film studies to define the concept of a ‘screen border’. It introduces the concept of cinéma-monde, which appears in the book’s title. It also argues that screen media play a contemporary role similar to that of mass-produced maps in the nineteenth century. The introduction closes with a literature review of related works and a chapter summary.

in Screen borders
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In praise of two
Richard Rushton

While discussing Godard’s works in general, this chapter focuses most closely on four films: A Married Woman (1963), Passion (1982), Hail Mary (1984) and In Praise of Love (2000), while also offering some reflections on Prenom Carmen (1983). The guiding argument of the chapter is provided by the number two: love, for Godard, is a matter of ‘seeing the world as two’ rather than one. (Philosophically this idea of love comes from Alain Badiou, noting that Badiou’s reflections were to a large extent inspired by Godard’s In Praise of Love.) The chapter engages extensively with Leo Bersani’s (with Ulysse Dutoit) writings on Godard, especially on Passion. Bersani argues that Godard’s films offer what he calls a ‘new mode of relation’ based on connectedness and correspondences between humans and the world. The chapter turns Bersani’s observations in the direction of two key statements from Godard’s films of the early 1980s: ‘If I love you, that’s the end of you’ (from Prenom Carmen) and ‘One’s better as a pair’ (from Hail Mary). Ultimately, the chapter argues that Godard’s films show us a version of love that is always ‘over there’, elsewhere, just out of reach.

in Modern European cinema and love
Learning how to love
Richard Rushton

This chapter examines a range of Antonioni’s films from the perspectives of the key female characters in those films. For these characters, the dominant conflict is between a quest for aloneness or isolation, on the one hand, and the search for love and companionship, on the other. This is typically the result of the woman’s having been treated badly by the man she loves, whether this be Claudia’s betrayal by Sandro in L’avventura, Giuliana’s difficulties with her husband, Ugo, and her lover, Corrado, in Red Desert, or – in the chapter’s key example – Lidia’s increasingly fraught relationship with her husband, Giovanni, in La notte. The chapter argues that the guiding mood of the endings of these films is positive. Antonioni’s films provide their female characters with the hope that their lives and loves will be rewarding and worthwhile, and that genuine love will be possible in this world.

in Modern European cinema and love
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Modern European cinema and love examines the work of nine European directors working from the 1950s onwards whose films contain stories about and reflections on romantic love and marriage. The directors are: Ingmar Bergman, Alain Resnais, Michelangelo Antonioni, Agnès Varda, François Truffaut, Federico Fellini, Jean-Luc Godard and Eric Rohmer. There is also an opening chapter on Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game. The book is informed by theories on love and marriage proposed by American philosopher Stanley Cavell. Two of Cavell’s main concepts, acknowledgment and remarriage, play key roles in the book. Cavell envisions, especially in his writings on cinema, a notion of marriage that is based on love and mutual equality between the members of a romantic couple. The argument of Modern European cinema and love is that some of the key filmmakers of European cinema after 1950 make themes of acknowledgment and remarriage central to their concerns. The book also engages in extended discussions of Leo Bersani’s writings on Jean-Luc Godard, Eric Rohmer and others in terms of what Bersani calls connectedness. While the book is ultimately critical of Bersani’s theories, his work nevertheless allows the full scope of the material in Modern European cinema and love to achieve its aims.

Richard Rushton

The book’s opening chapter provides some key points of navigation. First of all, it refines distinctions between acknowledgment and connectedness, and between theories proposed by Stanley Cavell and Leo Bersani, set out in the Introduction. It then goes into more detail on comparing some aspects of the Hollywood tradition to the conditions of European cinema in the 1950s and 1960s. The chapter features a comparison between what Cavell calls a Hollywood ‘comedy of remarriage’, The Awful Truth (Leo McCarey, 1937), as well as providing a discussion of Cavell’s conception of remarriage. Alongside the Hollywood film, the chapter also examines a film by one of the European filmmakers featured later in the book, Contempt (Le mépris) (1963), directed by Jean-Luc Godard. These analyses allow the main themes of the book to be presented.

in Modern European cinema and love
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From Calais to cinéma-monde
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Film and television offer important insights into wider social outlooks on borders in France and Europe. Screen borders: From Calais to cinéma-monde undertakes a visual cultural history of contemporary borders and border outlooks through a film and television tour of Europe. Drawing on examples produced primarily since 2004, the book traces the on-screen borders of Europe from the Gare du Nord train station in Paris to Calais, London, Lampedusa, and Lapland. It contends that different types of mobilities and immobilities (refugees, urban commuters, tourists) and vantage points (from borderland forests, ports, train stations, airports, refugee centres) are all part of a complex French and European border narrative. It also builds on scholarship on the intersection of cognitive mapping and screen media to argue that films and, in particular, series function as a form of contemporary map that allows viewers to grasp shifts in geographic and political landscapes. Screen borders draws on cultural studies, geography, and film theory to analyse a corpus of film and television case studies assembled under a wilfully broad cinéma-monde framework. It covers a wide range of examples, from popular films and TV series (The Tunnel) to auteur fiction and documentaries by well-known directors from across Europe and beyond, such as Claire Simon, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Tony Gatlif, and Robert Guédiguian.