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Nationalism and the Cinema in France

Political Mythologies and Film Events, 1945-1995

Hugo Frey

250 pages, 1 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-365-9 $120.00/£85.00 Hb Published (July 2014)

ISBN  978-1-78533-208-1 $34.95/£24.00 Pb Published (February 2016)

eISBN 978-1-78238-366-6 eBook


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“[The author’s] reduced scrutiny of the fine detail of films themselves is part and parcel of Frey’s admirable commitment to unearthing hidden and often fascinating contextual histories… The detailed excavation of the relationship with radical right wing politics engaged in by the popular actors Alain Delon and Brigitte Bardot will also be of great interest to many readers.” · French History

“This text of Frey, extremely detailed and rich in information and diverse sources, is wonderfully suited for teaching and for the reader curious to learn about the role of cinema in a political-historical context.” · French Review

Nationalism and the cinema in France offers an original and meticulously researched historical investigation of a highly interesting selection of French cinema culture…By focusing upon the extreme-right in these last two chapters, Frey offers an original and most timely analysis of the National Front’s relationship with cinema. As in the previous chapters, this analysis insightfully illustrates the pivotal role that films can play in society.” · Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television

“Frey’s book brings to English-language readers fascinating and hitherto unexplored material from French film culture, including links between a number of filmmakers and the Right; as such it is a valuable and original addition to the literature on French cinema.” · Sight & Sound

“Hugo Frey has written a fascinating and illuminating set of readings of French films through various prisms affected by aspects of French nationalism and political identity…His research has dug up some wonderful gems… Using contemporary press cuttings offers an immediacy that would be lost by simply quoting other academics. Best of all he remembers his readers and offers us clear and non-jargon English which will make this accessible to a wide audience and… when he uses a quote in French he puts the translation underneath. A really enjoyable and thought provoking read that will appeal to general readers, academics and students from A Level upwards.” · The Media Education Journal

“Frey’s examination of what he terms ‘the cinema–nationalism–history nexus’ is a thorough and timely corrective to more immanent and formalistic modes of analysis…Frey, not least in going where many might be too squeamish to venture, has made a valuable and important contribution to recent French cultural history.” · French Studies

“This work brings together the best of Anglo-Saxon and Francophone research on the topic, while opening academic discussions to a wider audience…Hugo Frey does not only innovate our approach to nationalism in French cinema, which he links with issues of right-wing politics rather than with left-wing issues of anti-Hollywoodism, he also offers a global rereading of popular cinema, instead of focusing only on art-house ‘masterpieces’.” · Jan Baetens, University of Leuven

“This is a fascinating book that, using Marc Ferro's Cinéma et Histoire as an analytical framework, explores the way in which French cinema has contributed to the projection of a mythologized French national image. It offers convincing analysis of not only key films but also the promotion strategies of the industry and the supporting culture.” · Charles Drazin, University of London

“…a most interesting contribution to the field of sociopolitical analysis of film. The critical concept of ‘film event’ lends a new angle to the discussion of nationalism and reactionary discourse in/on French cinema, particularly in the area that the author labels ‘organic nationalism’…[It] is well-informed and clearly required an impressive amount of scholarship, especially about film reception.” · Fabrice Leroy, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

It is often taken for granted that French cinema is intimately connected to the nation’s sense of identity and self-confidence. But what do we really know about that relationship? What are the nuances, insider codes, and hidden history of the alignment between cinema and nationalism? Hugo Frey suggests that the concepts of the ‘political myth’ and ‘the film event’ are the essential theoretical reference points for unlocking film history. Nationalism and the Cinema in France offers new arguments regarding those connections in the French case, examining national elitism, neo-colonialism, and other exclusionary discourses, as well as discussing for the first time the subculture of cinema around the extreme right Front National. Key works from directors such as Michel Audiard, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Melville, Marcel Pagnol, Jean Renoir, Jacques Tati, François Truffaut, and others provide a rich body of evidence.

Hugo Frey is Head of Department and Professor of Cultural and Visual History at the University of Chichester, UK. He is the author of Louis Malle (2004) and co-author with Jan Baetens of The Graphic Novel: An Introduction (2015). He has published articles on historiography, cinema and graphic novels in journals such as Contemporary French Civilisation, Journal of European Studies, South Central Review, and Yale French Studies. Since the fall of 2013 he has been an invited guest lecturer on French cinema for the Prince's Teaching Institute, London.

Subject: Film Studies 20th Century History
Area: France



Contents

Acknowledgements

Introduction: From International ‘High Art’ to the Parisian Political Melee

Chapter 1. The Cinema of Self-Promotion: Patriotic Subtexts in ‘Films about Films’  
Chapter 2. The Search for National Unity through History
Chapter 3. The Representation of a Modern Chic People
Chapter 4. A Paradox in Anti-Americanism: Public Protest and on Screen Ambiguity
Chapter 5. The Maintenance of Neo-Colonial Attitudes  
Chapter 6. The Persistence of anti-Semitism
Chapter 7. The Cinema and the Extreme Right-Wing Undercurrent

Conclusion

Bibliography
Index

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