Gender and French Cinema
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- What role did the female voice play when sound cinema was first developed?
- How have film genres and movements been shaped by gender and sexual politics?
- How does gender intersect with factors of race, class, ethnic and national identity?
The contributors also throw into relief broad issues such as the evolution of film in the context of 20C French social, political and cultural history.
Bringing together original essays by French, British and American scholars, the collection fully covers the development of French cinema. It addresses the work of individual auteurs, the French star system, and film genres and movements such as Dada and Surrealism, the New Wave and the New New Wave. It also focuses on film narratives in which issues of gender are particularly pertinent. The volume, which features illustrations, a filmography and bibliography, will be one of the standard handbooks in French cultural/film studies for some time to come.
for instance, to Buñuel’s film, it can be argued that, through his exploitation of visually and psychically shocking scenes of violation (cf. the image of the knifepenis and eye-vagina as an explicit enactment of the sexual act), he allows unconscious desires to express themselves, disrupting the stable symbolic order in a liberating movement that transgresses the constraints of bourgeois repression. In similar vein, elaborating on Krauss’s discussion of photography, Susan Rubin Suleiman reads
underworld. Once her stage lover has been killed by the guard, she sings a realist song called ‘C’est pour toi que j’ai le béguin’ over his dead body.32 The audience of music hall performers and stagehands, particularly the female spectators, is hypnotized by Jane’s performance. Four separate reaction shots reveal women mesmerized by Jane’s antics: one strokes her feather boa absent-mindedly, while another eats a chocolate bar. Jane’s song recounts a béguin (crush) that begins – 53 – Kelley
Things With Words (1975):5 that is, in respect of speech-acts that bring about a situation rather than merely describing one. (‘I now declare this swimmingpool open’ serves as a suitably uncontentious example of the latter.) Performativity, in its linguistic sense, clearly depends on an outside system of constraints and conventions, whereas the notion of gender as performance has often, and erroneously, been taken to mean an unbridled bodily voluntarism of a distinctly utopian kind. Butler’s
faithful to his aesthetic project: a project of the distanced gaze. And he preserved the loyalty of his cultured audience – an audience that, offered a naked Bardot as a bonus, could recognize and appreciate his creative ‘signature’ – while alienating the ‘popular’ spectator (it should come as no surprise that Le Mépris, a success in terms of Godard’s own career, was one of Bardot’s worst flops). In Vie privée and Le Mépris, the characters played by Bardot, ciphers both of ‘the feminine’, are
aroused by the vampire of horror films or the robotic clone of science fiction.34 Moreover, because he calls into question the way that masculinity is codified, the figure of the gay clone enables us to open up the question of encoding masculinity in the fantasy films under discussion. The performative masculinity of the gay clone – a masculinity that turns on dressing-up and role-playing, on ‘a kind of self-conscious . . . drag’ – distinguishes this ‘brand of machismo from its more earnest and