Film, Media and Music

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Fergus Daly and Garin Dowd

The title of Leos Carax's Pola X was an acronym of the title in French of Herman Melville's novel of 1852, Pierre, or The Ambiguities, that is, Pierre, ou les ambiguïtés. As for the X, it could be the marker to represent the family name which the character Isabel/Isabelle is denied she being the possible secret progeny of an extra-marital relationship; in this way it could stand for the family secret, therefore an element so central to the naturalist tradition in late nineteenth-century fiction. A combination of three texts of Gilles Deleuze yield a unique insight into naturalism in cinema and help to gain an understanding of Carax's concerns in Pola X. In Pola X, the quest for total fusion is complexified and the world on-screen rendered all the more catastrophic by means of its incestuous aspect.

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Diana Holmes and Robert Ingram

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Elizabeth Ezra

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Steve Chibnall

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Fergus Daly and Garin Dowd

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Steve Chibnall

For the first twenty-three years of his career, J. Lee Thompson's film-making activities were confined to England. The nearest he came to an overseas location was visiting J. B. Priestley on the Isle of Wight. Given the popularity of the genre during the 1950s, it is surprising that it took until 1957 for J. Lee Thompson to make a war film. Sea of Sand has a small platoon with a mission, feuding officers, battle scenes, a largely unquestioning commitment to the war, and a faceless enemy interested only in the destruction of the film's protagonists. North West Frontier opened at Rank's flagship Odeon in Leicester Square, London, to a chorus of approval from the popular press which saw it as a worthy successor to The Bridge on the River Kwai. Manchester Guardian gives '"fair do's" all round' in the classic liberal manner, while acknowledging the untenable nature of imperialism.

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Phil Powrie

Bereavement after IP5 turned Jean-Jacques Beineix away from feature filmmaking, despite several propositions from American producers, Alien Resurrection and The Avengers among them. During 1999 Beineix worked to raise money for his long-standing project, the comic vampire film based on Marc Behm's novel. However, a new feature film was planned, as alluded to by Beineix in the foreword to this volume, Mortel Transfert, based on a novel of the same name by Jean-Pierre Gattégno. This was a co-production between Cargo Films and Odeon, one of the contributors to the funding of the vampire film. Mortel Transfert went into production in April 2000. It was subsequently shown at various festivals: the polar festival at Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines and the Berlin festival. The general reaction to the film was that its mixture of genres, thriller and comedy had not gelled in quite the way Beineix had intended.

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Elizabeth Ezra

Although the perception of Georges Méliès as essentially a man of the theatre who happened to point a camera at the stage has long held sway, this chapter intends to provide a more complex assessment of Méliès's film techniques. The chapter examines individual scenes of some of his films using a model of structural analysis designed for narrative films. The aim of this exercise is two-fold: first, it reveals the narrative complexity of Méliès's films; and, in so doing, it demonstrates that early cinema need not be excluded from analysis using the tools of modern film theory. The chapter outlines the technical function of the major special effects, or trues, used by Méliès. It then progresses to a structural analysis of the narrative components of Méliès's films, by adapting Christian Metz's model known as la grande syntagmatique to a spatial model of mise en scène.

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Magic mothers

The sexual politics of Truffaut's films

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Diana Holmes and Robert Ingram

One of the authorial signs that circulate from one François Truffaut film to another is the question (sometimes formulated in the affirmative, as a statement): are women magic? Truffaut's sexual politics, or more accurately those of his films, have been condemned by more than one feminist critic. Truffaut's first feature film, Les 400 Coups, is the most directly autobiographical of his works. The chapter aims to marshal the counter-evidence, the aspects of Truffaut's cinema that argue against their straightforward relegation to the (crowded) ranks of misogynist cinema. Geneviève demonstrates that despite the preponderance of a male viewpoint in Truffaut's films the expression of female subjectivity has a place. One such sign is the inclusion of mise en abîme scenes, brief, condensed, often humorous moments that mirror and foreground the gender dynamics at work in the film.

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Les Mistons

An introduction

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Diana Holmes and Robert Ingram

When challenged by Anne Gillain to explain his motives in making Les Mistons François Truffaut was somewhat vague and unhelpful, deflecting the critic's attention to the short story on which the film is based. An interesting aspect of Les Mistons is that of gender representation. The construction of masculinity is nevertheless a feature of Les Mistons and is articulated mainly in terms of the contrast between Gérard and the five kids. Frame composition makes a significant contribution to Les Mistons, reinforcing one of the main features of the film: the age gap separating the couple from the boys. The chapter also presents some of the key concepts discussed in this book. The book provides a closer analysis of one film, Jules et Jim, both as a means to discuss more precisely Truffaut's style of film-making and to provide an example of how a film may be 'read'.