This volume brings together the work of leading film scholars from the UK, France and the US who assess a dominant art form's engagement with expressions of national identity at key moments in French cinematic history, from its origins at the end of the nineteenth century, through the inter-war period, the Occupation, the post-Liberation era, and the New Wave, up to the current state of the industry. The essays go against the grain in their attempts to construct an alternative history of French cinema, whether by bringing to light overlooked films or by examining well-known, indeed even 'over-exposed' films or filmmakers in a new light. In re-evaluating the work of Georges MÈliËs, Jacques Becker, Jean Renoir, Diane Kurys, FranAois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Jacques Beineix, the contributors to this volume focus on the paradoxical centrality of the marginal in constructions of national identity. In doing so, they reveal the structure of 'l'exception franAaise', in which French culture makes an exception for itself by suppressing alterity within it.
This multi-faceted assessment of French visual culture and identity will be of interest to students and scholars in French studies, media and film studies, cultural studies and French history.
This provocative volume of short, well-written pieces and its bibliography should encourage further research into the complex intertwinings between French national identity and its national cinematic art. Joan West, The French Review/University of Idaho