All entries for October 2007

October 29, 2007

What is a British Film?

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Qualifying as a British film & tax relief

Introduction  

One of the puzzling questions for A Level Students is what counts as a British film. It isn't very obvious as the murky world of film financing , tax dodges (sorry  breaks) can make  very unlikley films "British. Because of this there are several benchmarks that can be applied. Everything below the introduction  is taken from the UK Film Council site. Clicking on the links will bring you to the current definitions.

For most normal people rather than international financiers, the so called "cultural test " is the one which we would apply. To pass the cultural test the proposed film must get 16 out of 31 marks. The full table of how to get this can be found by clicking on the appropriate link. This cultural test is largely in accord with the principles of "Cultural Citizenship" which seeks to ensure a diverse set of representations of people within a particular culture at a particular historical moment. 

However for the purposes of the exam you will need to be aware of the differing benchmarks and definitions. It is worth pointing out again that the British film industry is much more than British Films.  Many people are employed in software or technical positions which are largely dependent upon Hollywood. Thus the British film industry can be doing well when the range of British films produced can be very thin on the ground  

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Qualifying as a British Film

Qualifying as a British film provides a number of advantages; productions are eligible to apply for UK Film Council funding and for the benefits of the UK’s tax relief structures. Films can qualify as British in one of three ways. They must meet the requirements of one of the following:

    • One of the UK’s official bilateral co-production treaties, or

    • The European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production

    • The Cultural Test (Schedule 1 to the Films Act 1985)

    Co-production

    For information on qualifying as a British film via the UK’s official bilateral co-production treaties or the European Convention, click here.

    Cultural Test
    For information on qualifying as a British Film using the Cultural Test, click here.

    Tax Relief
    For information on the UK's system of Tax Relief for British Films, click here.

    European Certificate of British Nationality
    British qualifying films are eligible for an European Certificate of British Nationality. For information on qualifying for an European Certificate of British Nationality, click here.


    October 26, 2007

    European Film Policy: A Webliography

    European Film Policy: A Webliography

    Please note page still under development but it may still be of use to current visitors.

    Introduction  

    As has been mentioned elswhere European film policy initiatives need to be developed with the concept of cultural citizenship firmly in mind. This is clearly linked to concepts of overlapping and mutually informing processes of identity formation.  Identity needs to be flexibly conceived of able to transcend pure place and work within a broader sense of a European cultural identity whilst recognising that place is an important component of identity. Identity isn't also linked to place as there are many identities which cut across place and incorporate space /s as well. In popular culture for example Rave culture linked to clubbing or else the surprise use of spaces related to a specific identity formation. From the perspective of film policy it is important that a good range of identities are represented and this requires an strong committment to the eroding notion of public service broadcasting - to inform, educate and entertain - set against purely commercial considerations.

    Below are some links to courses, papers, declarations etc concerning European film industries. another posting will establish a webliography for Cultural Citizenship which needs to be linked in with culture and media policy debates.  

    Webliography

    CHALLENGES IN EUROPEAN CINEMA AND FILM POLICY by Nils Klevjer Aa (Published Winter 2001) 

    National, transnational or supranational cinema? Rethinking European film studies. Bergfelder Media Culture Society.2005; 27: 315-331

    European Charter on Film Online

    Think Tank on European Film & Film Policy  (PDF)

    Undergraduate Module on European Film Industries from Leeds University

    Link to Anne Jackel BFI publication European Film Industries

    Netribution : Alternative voluntarily run site primarily for Filmmakers. (People developing their own policy from the ground up ?)

    Policy Unplugged: Policy developments in The European Digital Cinema Forum Guide to Digital Cinema Production (Focal press 2004)

    Department of Culture Media and Sport UK: Film Section

    European Parliament News: Discussion with Director Cedric  Klapisch on problems in the European Film industry

    This also has a link to a Realplayer interview with Klapisch in French only at the bottom of the page.  

    The European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production Order 2006

    European Film Agency Directors, Cine-Regio and the
    Capital Regions of Cinema issue joint statement
    on European culture agenda
    (May 2007) 

    Federation of European Film Directors

    European Film Finance Summit (2007) 

    The challenges for European audiovisual policy: Jonathan Davis, Strategy Advisor, UK Film Council (2004) 

    European Media, Cultural Integration and Globalisation.Reflections on the ESF-programme Changing Media - Changing Europe. Ib Bondebjerg (Academic Paper). 

    The Decline and Fall of the European Film Industry:
    Sunk Costs, Market Size and Market Structure, 1890-1927
    .  Gerben Bakker
    . LSE  Working Paper No. 70/03


    October 23, 2007

    The French New Wave: A New Look: Naomi Greene

    The French New Wave: A New Look: Naomi Greene 2007 Wallflower Press: A Critical Review

    Cover for Greene French New Wave






    For visitors wanting an historical overview of European cinema







    Introduction


    About two weeks ago one of my intellectually inquisitive sixth-formers commented that she didn’t think that much of Godard’s iconic New Wave film: A bout de soufflé (Breathless). Last week she handed back to me City of God with the words “it nearly made me cry at the end”. New Waves are primarily understood about cinema and youth, about trying to create new cinematic forms and represent the World in new ways. I shall be examining the possibility that the notion of the  'unexpected' is an historiographical concept that can be applied to cinematic new waves. I shall also be noting some of the areas where the films remain unavailable and there is a certain amount of critical underwriting proffering new opportunities for research. 

    Both City of God and Breathless are films which are part of their respective cinematic New Waves with the former being a part of the current Latin American New Wave. Serendiptiously on returning home I found a copy of Naomi Greene’s newly published The French New Wave: A New Look from Wallflower Press waiting for review. This provides an opportunity to reflect upon what has changed so much and what might be different within the disparate New Waves which had elicited very different responses from a smart 18 year old.

    Although I shall make some opening sceptical comments which indicate that the notion of the French New Wave could usefully be deconstructed, I found the book a clear and insightful summary written by an academic very at ease with her ideas and well able to communicate them to the chosen target audience. As I read through it stimulated me to follow up some ideas and strands of thought as I scoured the Web for cheap versions of a book on Henri Langlois and also ordered Jaques Rivette’s Paris nous appartient which I hadn’t noticed that the BFI had released over a year ago:a film which, says the blurb: brilliantly captured the mood of paranoia and uncertainty of that Cold War period. Rivette's rarely seen debut is one of the most important and far-reaching of the early New Wave films. After reading Greene’s analysis it became a ‘must see’. Indeed it is this analysis which forms a part of her ‘New Look’ for it is a film which has received little critical analysis in the mainstream accounts of the New Wave.

    The book is ideal for undergraduates and much of it is accessible to A2 students who may be studying new waves for their World Cinema Unit. It will also act as a good companion for those who are new to this area of cinema. In this it is in keeping with the tradition and standards established by the Wallflower Press Short Cuts series. It is certainly a useful book for film and media studies lecturers and teachers and for libraries. 





    Nazi Officer silence de la mer

    Melville's Le Silence de la mer 1949 was an important precursor to the French New Wave.

    Cinematography was by Henri Decae





    What might a "New Wave" be?


    This is a rather harder question to answer than appears at first sight. My own perspective is that one must apply SPECT (Social Political Economic Cultural Textual) methodology to the analysis. Greene is quite specific about this too and adds ‘Historical’ to the methodological equation although I must admit I was taking that for granted and certain historiographical issues which arise will be considered:

    …using a lens that is at once social economic ,cultural and historical (Greene 2007 p 3), Greene sets out to examine the nature and influences of the Nouvelle Vague for whatever one thinks of the films it has exerted an enormous influence within cinema for as Greene points out:

    …up until now at least, there has been relatively little disagreement about the importance of the New Wave, but critics are not always in accord when it comes to the precise contours or its internal coherence.” (Greene 2007, p3).

    The usual idea is that younger people (usually male cinephiles) were interested in filmmaking across a post-war Europe in which countries had been more or less bankrupted by the war and were trying to develop new identities which incorporated space,place and form. They valued difference between countries but respected them. to some extent there were generational differences. Neorealists had many who were involved in filmmaking before the war and in France Melville and the Left Bank generation were older than the Cahiers group. As such they had a different perspective on the world. Younger critics and filmmakers  also raise a range of different challenges to the previous generations who had led them into the European 30 Years war of the 20th century (1914-45). Italian Neorealism was undoubtedly the leading element however groundbreaking films had emerged in Britain and Poland as well as France well before the Cannes festival of 1959 brought Truffaut into the limelight. Those groups of films which now become categorised as new waves tend to work within these parameters but often fall short of serious political critique.

    Historiographical interpretation is a difficult game and I have concerns that European cinema is often represented as one of movements which are largely autonomous and often entirely separate to other developments. It is also a methodology which focuses upon National cinema often at the expense of considering an international cross-cultural artistic reality which is harder to measure.  In Britain for example, running in parallel to the work of Free Cinema there was a lot of social realism in mainstream feature films and this has tended to put Free cinema into the critical shade compared to the French ‘New Wave’ which is represented as markedly different from mainstream French cinema. The fact that British Free Cinema showed large numbers of Polish and French films as part of its series of 6 programmes  points to a lot of international collaboration amongst the film-makers and cross fertilisation of ideas. One of the issues raised in this review is the importance of surrealism as a subterreanean strand of representation which in cross-national and transhistorical inter-ruptions are largely underwritten in academic circles.





    Alainj Delon in Plein Soleil

    Alain Delon in  Rene Clement's Plein Soleil  (1960)

    Delon came to the fore at the time of the  New Wave. The cinematography of Plein Soleil was again by Henri Decae. Decae was not above working with somebody castigated by Truffaut as part of cinema du papa! Decae had already been the highest paid person on 400 Blows and was in demand. This was Delon's most important film at the time. He went on to be a leading actor in Visconti's Rocco and His Brothers (1960) and The Leopard (1963) as well as being in Antonioni's L'Eclisse (1962). 









    Arguably cross fertilisation and changing ideas were already present in mainstream French cinema at the time of the Nouvelle Vague when one notes the date of Rene Clement’s Plein Soleil (1960) and its use of Nouvelle Vague favourite cameraman Henri Decae by this representative of Cinema du papa. Perhaps the reality on the ground is not always quite so clear cut. Decae had already cut his teeth on the thriller genre by filming Melville’s Bob le flambeur [Bob the Gambler] (1955) and then Malle’s 1958 release Lift to the Scaffold.




    Moreau in Lift to the Scaffold

    Jeanne Moreu in Louis Malle's 1958 Lift to the Scaffold

    Cinematography by Henri Decae 






    It might well be that a unifying theme amongst the avante-gardists of European post-war cinema was the representation of space and place which was far more celebratory and far reaching than the mainstream. Space and place are inherently imbricated with the construction of identity and one might usefully compare the Rome of Rossellini (Roma citta aperta), De Sica’s Umberto D, Visconti’s Bellissima and Fellini’s La Dolce Vita as bearing witness to a changing Italian identity all of which relied to a large extent on location shooting.  Core differences between Plein Soleil and the French Nouvelle Vague films is that it was relatively high budget and was decidedly international in its scope dealing with Americans in Italy and creating more of a tourist's gaze than a local's gaze. The surreality of Truffaut and Godard's cinematic visions and the play with a knowing audience were also absent. 

    The Precursors of the Nouvelle Vague

    Greene sets out her stall very clearly although  a little disappointingly she doesn’t challenge the concept of the French New Wave as a critical construction. Historiographically there is some case to be made for challenging the dominant discourse which surrounds this ‘cultural moment’ to the exclusion of other tendencies emerging in parallel, perhaps some revision is overdue. Examples include the British Free cinema movement while arguably the great Italian directors moving into their post-neorealist phase were making far more interesting and challenging films than either tendency. The Polish cinema of the time also needs to be considered although I'm personally unfamiliar with the content. What can be said is that European filmmaking in the 1950s was in a state of change far beyond the borders of France. 

    This gripe aside Greene's book is perfectly pitched for its lay / undergraduate audience: it is written clearly by a leading scholar of French cinema and is very well informed. It places the Nouvelle Vague in its French cinematic context and there is some reference – not enough in my opinion – to the wider history of postwar France - and it clearly summarises the range of critical opinions in the discourse of the French New Wave. Greene’s book Landscapes of Loss really teases out the problems of post-war French identity and the ways in which this is represented within the cinematic culture of France. In her introduction to this latter book she notes the entry of L’histoire de France au cinema which comments that “cinema is, in fact, a more sensitive barometer than literature or school curricula”,(my emphasis). She proceeds to note the film maker Bertrand Tavernier’s comment that:

    filmmakers are seismographs of their epoch. They bear witness, even unconsciously, to everything that surrounds them”. (Greene 200, p 5).



    Bearing in mind Tavernier’s comment it is clear that that moment of 1959 when Truffaut gains recognition at Cannes for 400 Blows is when youthful French cinema comes to the notice of both the French nation and the world at large. Arguably this ‘new wave’ as cinema was already in existence but its widespread cultural recognition was as a result of hype from the French Media combining with the desire of many who were dissatisfied with the postwar republic and the failures of France to reassert its place in the World and it is this aspect which Greene underplays. Furthermore there was a growing concern with American ‘cultural imperialism’. A re-establishing of a French cultural identity for the modern period was sorely needed.





    The independent auteurs which the Nouvelle Vague places on the map bringing the notion of auteurism as a critical concept to the fore were already in existence. Primarily they were the left bank, left wing documentarists such as Chris Marker and Alain Resnais and Agnes Varda. Greene has written particularly well about Resnais in her Landscapes of Loss and in a short book she does manage to include a lot about the Left Bank filmmakers which is good because even now getting hold of the documentary work of Resnais in the UK is pretty much impossible. Availability of films is partially down to critical discourse because the early work of Truffaut and Godard is readily available whilst the availability of the work from the Left Bank directors and even the early Rivette and Chabrol as well as Franju is not. The importance of reviewing critical discourse at a time when new technologies make the ‘Long Tail’ of cultural output far more accessible than ever before should not be underestimated.

    The work of Louis Malle is sidelined in this book to some extent; he is seen as peripheral to the New Wave yet the content and methods of film making of his early films were fundamental to the changing ‘structure of feeling’ – to call upon Raymond William’s useful concept - which was running through French society at the time. Lift  to the Scaffold is an excellent film which in the guise of a thriller brings in a critique of French society as the murdered husband is an arms dealer, which can be read as a thinly veiled reference to French colonial struggles the growing crisis in Algeria, the failed attempt to control the Suez Canal and the debacle in Vietnam which the Dennis Grunes blog discussing Malle’s film is at pains to mention, unlike some of the academic books:

    Don’t laugh at wars. You live off wars. . . . Indo-China; now Algeria. Respect wars; they’re your family heirlooms.” Julien is killing Carala because he is in love with the old man’s young wife, Florence; but his political remarks add to our understanding of the disgust with which Carala fills him. Because Tavernier is Carala’s employee, his disgust includes a measure of self-disgust…” (http://grunes.wordpress.com/2007/02/23/elevator-to-the-gallows-louis-malle-1957/)

    The methods of film making anticipate and perhaps better the work of Truffaut and Godard’s early work as well. The following quotation about the musical collaboration between Malle and Miles Davis says a lot about the way in which the spirit in which the film was made:

    The connection between Miles Davis and Louis Malle is one of general artistic integrity, for each creator is a master of their medium before the specific ideas that they are representing is even considered. This is where the idea of “jazz” as a mode of creativity is most clearly seen. Forget the meaning of “jazz” as a musical genre for one moment and try to see the interconnectedness between all artists of all mediums. It seems that once an artist has been working in their field for long enough to learn all of the necessary elements of their trade that it is only their individual ability to improvise that makes their work different from others and either a master or another artist. It is a sensation that is obvious to those who have begun the search for this divine level of creation. Malle and Davis certainly can see the respective vision of the other’s work and in their collaboration on Elevator to the Gallows the direct relationship between the scene and the music is a finely balanced expression of both artists. There is a definite freedom that Malle entrusts in Davis to create at his own will, which is undoubtedly a result of Davis’s success and mastery of his art. The connections are distinct and calculated, but this is not a dynamic that can be created by any two artists. Collaborations can fail even when it seems evident that a relationship or similarity is present between artist’s modes of representation. (My emphasis, http://instruct1.cit.cornell.edu/courses/music270/projects/s2005/ebb32/Frantic.html)

    This blog is especially useful to check out because there are some useful video extracts of the film which show how effectively Malle has filmed the street using all the outdoor location techniques associated with the New Wave.

    Critical focus has been on the Cahiers critics turned filmmakers – a sceptic might conclude that inside every critic there is a director trying to get out! But this was nothing new, many of the Neorealists were involved on the same critical magazine and after them Lindsay Anderson and Karel Riesz were involved with Sequence in Britain.

    Perhaps undue attention has been paid to Truffaut’s infamous slating of the “Tradition of Quality” especially the scriptwriters Aurenche and Bost in “A Certain Tendency of French Cinema” written in 1954. Critics offer no real evidence of how seriously this article was taken by either audiences or those in the cinematic establishment at the time. One wonders how seriously the article would have been taken by cinematic critics if Truffaut hadn’t made 400 Blows. This is clear evidence that there was a rapidly changing ‘structure of feeling’ (Raymond Williams) within France which Cahiers critics were a part of. Their elevation to world view could be seen as a political sleight of hand for in many ways 400 Blows was less challenging to French traditional identity than Lift to the Gallows which would seem outrageous to the Catholic right and its family values as well as promoting Miles Davis a black American jazz musician - hardly the epitome of French cultural values.

    Miles Davis Lift to the Gallows


    Malle’s next film ‘Les Amants’ was also a huge challenge to the mores of society. De Gaulle would hardly like to be associated with a film which challenged family and Catholic values even more than Escalator to the Scaffold. Both De Gaulle and a renewed French identity based partially upon a cultural Renaissance could safely focus upon the critics and emerging new directors of Cahiers du Cinema who with the exception of Pierre Kast were largely apolitical. They were clearly opposed to the Stalinist left who were in cosy collusion with the industrial leadership of cinema creating the cinema du papa of which Cahiers had been so critical. By comparison 400 Blows challenges older stuffy attitudes particularly in relation to the state and education which seemed more Victorian than anything else. In this it chimed with the popular Existentialist concepts of ‘Freedom’. Its autobiographical nature meant that the film was one which had an audience who could readily identify with the values represented in the film. It was the right film for the right time.

    Les Amants 1


    Luis Malle's Les amants (1958) 




    The Origins of the term Nouvelle Vague

    Greene does pay attention to the origins of the expression Nouvelle Vague which are embedded in the journal L’Express. Greene notes that prior to this the journal La Nef had a special edition in 1955 which started to carry investigations into the growing influence of the post-war generation of youth a decade after the Second World War just as the long boom starts to take effect and post-war reconstruction is beginning to turn towards a consumer society. L’Express founded in 1954 and modelled on American News Magazines was itself very much a child of its time. Inevitably it was going to play a part in the emerging discourses linked to disappointment and a need for a clearer post-war identity for France which had failed to rediscover the Grandeur beloved of De Gaulle, was on the back foot in all its colonies, was deeply divided once one scratched the surface over the “Dark Years” of the War which was pretty much a three way split between communist Left / Catholic loyalists in the resistance and collaborators in the Vichy regime.


    Truffauts 400 Blows

    The Wave breaks with Truffaut's Les 400 coups (1959)

    Hope for the future was seemingly being placed increasingly upon the young. The New Wave was an expression which developed from a large poll into this new generation organised by L’Express in 1957. By the following June (1958) notes Greene: “The term had gained such currency that L’Express began referring to itself as le journal de la nouvelle vague”. (Greene p 12). In this section it is possible to conclude that the French ‘New Wave Cinema’ can be defined as representative of the changing ‘structure of feeling’ as France adapted to post-war modernity which created a cultural moment allowing the youthful generation to identify with a newly emergent France under the leadership of the recently appointed Charles de Gaulle. It was of course a very limited representation of the French film industry which privileged the directors and critical discourses around Cahiers du Cinema above other tendencies within non mainstream cinema as it was a much safer cinema both politically and socially.

    I would suggest that this is why A bout de soufflé compared with City of God fails to bring a contemporary 17 year old to the brink of tears. City of God explores the political and socio-cultural spaces of a Brazilian city in a way which no French New Wave film even dreams of attempting. Anyone who visited the recent Tate Modern exhibition on Global Cities and saw the juxtaposition of the mega rich and the totally impoverished will be familiar with the realism in terms of underlying social truths which City of God takes on. It is a long way from the notions of ‘truth’ which were promulgated at the time by the iconic director / thinkers of Cahiers du Cinema. Where the French New Wave is largely associated with form, City of God seems more concerned to combine form with content.




    City of God


    City of God by Mireilles. Part of the recent Latin American 'New Wave' its form combined a surrealistic mode with MTV style camerwork linked to a brutalised content that makes some viewers tearful. A tourists gaze of Paris it is not!









    The Structure of Greene’s Book

    Whilst Greene’s book falls short of reconfiguring the critical space of French New Wave discourse it will be extremely helpful in allowing readers to get to grips with the main strands of critical discourse surrounding the French New Wave for whatever my criticisms there is no doubt at all that what is commonly understood as the French New Wave and the critical discourses surrounding it have exercised enormous influence within cinematic culture as a whole.

    Greene’s first chapter defines the traits of the New Wave, further chapters proceed to “What is Cinema: reflections upon film”, discuss the experiments of the 1950s and then in turn discuss the “Euphoria” of the moment and the “Aftershocks”.

    The chapter on “Defining Traits” usefully examines the historical and critical discourses and provides the reader with a series of critical possibilities in terms of defining the New Wave from an extreme at one end of the critical spectrum embodied in the work of Marie who argues that the New Wave can be defined as a “School”, to the much looser definition of Williams in his synoptic history of French cinema Republic of Images” where he describes the New Wave as a “brief period of upheaval and innovation”. There is a general acceptance that it is a cinema of youth and that it broke down the entry barriers and reshaped the French film industry. Certainly there was a considerable outpouring of film making in the years immediately following 1959 with double the number of films being made. However this also coincides with slumping box office takings and following 400 Blows and Breathless the films of Truffaut and Godard respectively didn’t achieve box office success. Their films emulated those of Rossellini one of their inspirations for after his war trilogy box office success also eluded him. For Rossellini and the other Neorealists the political shift to the right and the domination of US films were the issues. By the time the New Wavers had gained wider cinema across the US and Europe was already declining as a mass entertainment medium as TV combined with increasing disposable income led to other more expensive leisure pursuits being followed.

    In her second chapter What is Cinema, clearly titled after the work of the leading French Critic Andre Bazin, Greene usefully examines the theoretical and critical backdrop to French cinema since the end of the Second World War. There is a section on Henri Langlois and the importance of the Cinematheque as a pedagogical inspiration to young cinephiles helping to groom the next generation of filmmakers. Although a relatively short section the emphasis on the deliberate pedagogical nature of Langlois’ project was made very clear which it often isn’t.








    Musee du Cinema Langlois


    Musee du Cinema  Henri Langlois


    Current Cinematheque by Gehry

    The current Cinematheque in a building designed by Frank Gehry










    The importance and role of Andre Bazin is then considered, and the relationship of both Bazin and the “Young Turks” of the New Wave to Italian neorealism is explored. Whilst Bazin considered de Sica as well as Rossellini to be very important those such as Truffaut and Godard privileged Rossellini. I have yet to discover anything which might be understood by the Cahiers group as inspirational from the work of Visconti, Antonioni or Fellini. The Catholic liberalism and possibly the private life of Rossellini which challenged the moralists had enough radical appeal without going near the more overtly political work of Visconti for example despite the fact that he had clear links back to Renoir who was a favourite of the New Wavers.

    Next comes  a summary of the importance of Alexander Astruc and the ideas behind the camera-stylo or cinema as a form of writing which combined with ideas of the director as an auteur as camera-stylo meant that the director was ‘writing’ cinema by playing with cinematic form and visual modes of communication.

    The next critical influence Greene deals with is Eric Rohmer who writing under his original name (Maurice Scherer) in the magazine La revue du cinema in 1948 discusses the role and importance of cinematic space. The article is a careful critique of the 'Tradition of Quality' whose reliance upon the script has led to films being constructed without due attention to modes of seeing thus failing to utilise and develop a truly cinematic language related to space and the construction and role of mise en scene. Jacques Rivette as early as 1954 also writes about mise en scene as:

    ‘a precise complex of people and decors, a network of relations, a moving architecture of relationships somehow suspended in space’ (Rivette cited Greene 2007 p 25).

    Greene then moves on to the well known grouping around Bazin’s Cahier du Cinema placing some of the critical ideas such as Truffaut’s “A Certain Tendency” into context thus completing the critical backdrop to the ideas of the future New Wave Directors.

    Film Experiments of the 1950s & Thoughts on Historiography

    In her chapter Film Experiments of the 1950s Greene usefully covers a range of important filmmakers including Melville, Jean Rouch, the Left Bank film makers with sections on Agnes Varda and Chris Marker and then moving onto Roger Vadim and Louis Malle. Greene notes how much Truffaut liked Les Amants linking it to the spontaneity of Renoir. Of course this (deserved) appreciation of Renoir links back into the issue of French identity for Renoir’s films from the Popular Front period represent an assertion of national solidarity is ways which Neorealism functioned for Italy. Even in Britain this more spontaneous type of filmmaking had a route through Humphrey Jennings to Lindsay Anderson and Free Cinema which again links into national identity which cuts across class divides whilst at the same time being part of an internationalist tendency:

    Geoffrey Nowell-Smith has argued that Jennings' work is better situated in the context of experimental film and the European avant-garde than within the documentary movement.

    Jennings' own films, like those of European documentarists Joris Ivens, Henri Storck and Jean Rouch, discover the surreal in the everyday as opposed to the artistically contrived. (http://www.screenonline.org.uk/people/id/453623/)

    Greene spends quite a lot of time covering Jean Rouch who gets little mention in Williams (1992). This ethnographic approach with a clearly identified link to Jennings points to a pan-European cienamatic cultural movement which emerges unevenly. I must confess I haven't seen any of his work however a quick search of the web shows that there seems to be nothing available on DVD currently. This points to the need for a more co-ordinated European approach to its cinematic heritage. Greene's scholarship here should help to raise a greater awareness of this filmmaker. I did discover that there have been a couple of academic conferences on him in the UK in recent years sadly this hasn't raised an interest in republishing his work. 


    The New Wave had a marked distance from the powerful continental communist parties of the 1950s who had a strong influence within French cinema. All three national film trajectories were wary of right-wing nationalism on the one hand and strong Stalinist influences on the other nevertheless the trajectory of the cinema of all the countries was markedly different. Rather than just looking to the influence of French films of the 1950s with nods to Rossellini and Renoir it might be better to place the French New Wave as another eruption of European modernist avant-gardism in the duree of the 20th century. The seemingly inevitable disjunctions between art and politics have been noted by Ellis in relation to the British Free Cinema as well:

    The politics behind this commitment were not particularly radical, perhaps best expressed again by Lindsay Anderson: "But one thing is certain: in the values of humanism, and in their determined application to our society lies the future. All we have to do is to believe in them." It led, however, to a brief association by the Free Cinema with the New Left, and with Universities and Left Review which ended in disillusion when it became clear that their interests in the cinema were fundamentally different. Uninterested in making propaganda films for Right or Left, the Free Cinema group wanted films which were not only socially committed but were also art. (Ellis 1977).

    Here cultural historiography needs to balance the straight jacketed methods emanating from a 19th century style of teleological history to one which takes on board the fragments and ruptures which critics such as Walter Benjamin espoused where there is more emphasis on the concept of the unexpected which will be discussed briefly below.

    Euphoria

    This chapter is useful as it chooses some of the classics of the New Wave to make small case studies including: Le Beau Serge and Les Cousins by Chabrol, 400 Blows by Truffaut, Hiroshima mon amour by Resnais, and A bout de soufflé by Godard. What is strange in this chapter is that Greene flags up Marcel Camus’ Black Orpheus shown at the 1959 Cannes festival and understood as a part of the New Wave it then disappears from view and remains one of the underwritten films of the period as the focus still remains primarily on the Cahiers group. It is nonetheless a useful chapter to those new to the period and provides a useful stepping stone for further investigation.

    Aftershocks

    Greene’s last chapter focuses upon the longer term influences of the French Nouvelle Vague and cites directors as seemingly distanced as Martin Scorsese and Abbas Kiarostami as being strongly influenced by this movement or tendency. Kiarostami notes that the willingness to ‘break the rules’ was an important influence upon him but when one follows the hypothesis suggested here that there are stronger links with European Surrealism than is usually thought about, this ‘breaking of the rules’ can be understood as more embedded in a subversive tradition of seeing things differently.

    Cultural Historiography: Tafuri's Recerca

    As the French Nouvelle Vague becomes history rather than a contemporary cultural movement it becomes more important to place it within a wider historical framework whilst recognising that history itself is necessarily an interpretive act concerning the past. Here it is useful to borrow from the work of architectural historian Manfredo Tafuri. I have recently come across the recent translation of his important last work Ricerca del Rinascimento with an English title of Interpreting the Renaissance. Of course there is a loss through translation of the meaning of the term Ricerca which Hays his translator goes to some trouble to explain more fully. The term has several connotations:

    • Research

    • Inquiry

    • Constant revision of hypotheses in the light of new evidence

    • An understanding of historical time as a fractured continuum, a dialectic of sudden events and long periods

    If we apply this term to the French New Wave I argue that it is best to place it within a wider history of European cinema, itself related to the cultural twists and turns of a tumultuous period of global history. Perhaps what is needed for a reassessment is a cinematic history which is modelled on Tafuri’s openly revisionist (in a positive sense of the term) of Italian Renaissance Architecture which has as its objective explains Hays:

    …providing a comprehensive reassessment of Italian Renaissance architecture…Rejecting the conventions of the exhaustive survey, Tafuri’s book is instead a series of in-depth, interconnected studies that present the architecture of the period not only as a manifestation of its cultural circumstances, but also in terms of its artistic practices designed to reinforce, challenge, and transform dominant ideologies, thereby changing the context of its reception.” (Tafuri 2006: p XVII)

    So far in my cross-national comparisons I have discovered not only a lack of Jean Rouch aqnd early Rivette but an underwriting of the British Free Cinema movement programmes. This is important to raise here because of its commitment to showing French films from directors who presumably were to become stalwarts of the French New Wave. This is a serious flaw in writing European cinema from a perspective dominated by notions of national cinema for it can provide an unwelcome straitjacket. The blurb on the BFI DVD notes that Free Cinema 5 was on French Renewal and included Chabrol and Truffaut but it goes no further. It notes that Free Cinema 2 screened the work of Franju amongst other French filmmakers. Fortunately I discovered some intersting work on the web:

    Cinema 4 introduced to Britain for the first time two directors of the French New Wave - Claude Chabrol (with Le Beau Serge) and François Truffaut (with Les Mistons)( Lindsay Anderson Programme notes: https://secure.bfi.org.uk/features/freecinema/archive/anderson-77prognotes.html


    This article by John Ellis makes a useful series of links between Free Cinema and continental and American art tendendencies:

    The second, fourth and fifth programmes contained films which the group felt were madealong the kind of lines it was pursuing. Included were two American documentaries, LeSang des Bêtes by Georges Franju, a series of Polish films including ones made by Borowczyk, Lenica and Polanski, and a programme called 'French Renewal' with films by Frangois Truffaut and Claude Chabrol. Even with the British-made films there were many differences; they were made over six years between 1953 and 1959. The films were not made in collaboration but rather emerged as a group following their inclusion in the Free Cinema programme. (Ellis 1977 see link below).

    Greene tends to downplay the importance of Franju who was involved with both documentary and fictional film making yet Anderson et al would have been attracted to Franju because his surrealistic links which would have placed him on a par with Humphrey Jennings. That Franju was intimately involved with the establishment of the Cinematheque along with Langlois is important and Williams covers Franju in reasonable detail in his Republic of Images.




    Henri Langlois 2


    Henri Langlois & George Franju cofounders of the Cinematheque

    Georges Franju










    Conclusion

    Overall this opportunity for critical reflection has helped to identify several aspects of French and European film culture which need to be unearthed and made more publicly available. Greene has written up Jean Rouch and created a greater focus on Rivette but perhaps underwritten Marcel Camus and George Franju but in a short book there will necessarily be gaps.  It would be unreasonable to review Green’s necessarily brief summary of a movement in this way however there is always a danger that publishing becomes an essential support of a pre-established discourse often linked to increasingly highly structured aspects of educational curricula. Green’s book clearly is in accordance with a very specific target market and achieves its end very effectively.

    Hopefully the enthusiastic filmgoer will take it as a useful first step upon a wider cultural and intellectual journey rather than a tick box “done the French New Wave”! As time passes I suspect that more will be made of the underwritten links with European cinematic surrealism and that what is known as the Nouvelle Vague will be understood as a surrealistic inter-ruption which would support the sort of historical methods espoused by Tafuri and Benjamin amongst others. It is strange that Greene specifically draws upon the surrealists in interwar France as an example of “…an intertwined flowering of French film and film criticism” repeated by the Cahiers group of film makers as well as others in the French cultural avant-garde of the 1950s.





    The Dreamers 1


    Youthful joie de vivre in Bertolucci's France 1968 revisited film  The Dreamers. Remind you of Jules et Jim anybody?


    The Dreamers 2






    Return of the Repressed?  


    Perhaps we should leave our thoughts with Bertolucci whose film The Dreamers in some sense links an artistic politics to a material politics yet recognises the ultimate disjunction between them for the film notes the importance of Godard and Truffaut in defence of Henri Langlois and his position in the Cinematheque. It was March 1968 when the government tried to remove Langlois that the Cahiers cavalry came to the rescue. It was a surrealistic prelude to the uprising and strife of May 1968. Bertolucci was himself strongly influenced by Godard and was also in Lacanian psychoanalysis, and Lacan was very interested in surrealism. With the 40th anniversary of this we can reflect upon an “understanding of historical time as a fractured continuum, a dialectic of sudden events and long periods.”

    Bibliography

    Greene, Landscapes of Loss: The National Past in French Postwar Cinema. New Jersey: Princeton University Press

    Greene, Naomi. 2007. The French New Wave. London: Wallflower Press. ISBN 978-1-905674-12-1

    Tafuri, Manfredo. 2006. Interpreting the Renaissance: Princes, Cities, Architects. New Haven: Yale University Press

    Williams, Alan. 1992. Republic of Images: A History of French Filmmaking. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press

    Webliography

    http://filmstore.bfi.org.uk/acatalog/info_129.html

    http://instruct1.cit.cornell.edu/courses/music270/projects/s2005/ebb32/Frantic.html

    http://grunes.wordpress.com/2007/02/23/elevator-to-the-gallows-louis-malle-1957/)

    BBC guide to George Franju http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A893441

    Senses of Cinema on Georges Franju’s remake of Judex providing a strong link into European Surrealism: http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/05/35/feuillade_franju_dvd.html

    Taken from Ellis John (ed.), 1951-1976: British Film Institute Productions, London: British Film Institute, 1977: https://secure.bfi.org.uk/features/freecinema/archive/ellis-freecinema.html





    October 21, 2007

    The British New Wave: Social Realist film of the 1960s

    The British New Wave

    Julie Christie in Billy Liar

    Julie Christie in John Schlesinger's Billy Liar


    Introduction


    The beginning of the 1960s was marked by the appearance of a range of feature films which took up serious social issues and were placed within the contemporary cultural context. The films are described as social realist and described as a British ‘New Wave’. The description of  these films as a 'New Wave' should not be confused with the contemporary French films that were coming out of France from the Cahiers du Cinema milieu of directors. Some commentators regard the British New Wave as being influenced by the French New Wave. This seems inappropriate as the period usually defined as the French New Wave was happening more or less simultaneously. Arguably there was at least a two way influence as the acceptance of Chabrol and Truffaut in the British Free Cinema series makes clear. What is more likely is that any French influences that were the precursors to the Nouvelle Vague proper such as Louis Malle’s Les Amants were being seen in Britain particularly as future British ‘New Wave’ directors Lindsay Anderson, Karel Reisz and Tony Richardson were organising the Free Cinema events at the National Film Theatre from 1956 - 1959 as well as developing film criticism on the magazine Sequence earlier on. Cinematically it was Italian neo-realism which had made a strong influence on both British and French directors although both groupings went in different directions. It is the ‘Left Bank’ documentarists not always seen as the heart of the French nouvelle vague such as Resnais, Duras and Marker who are seemingly more influential. To this must be added the legacy of  Humphrey Jennings who  was enormously important  to  Anderson, Reisz and Richardson.

    Seeming Western Cultural and Economic Synergies

    At the meta-level directors in Western Europe were part of the cultural moves towards creating fully modern societies in Western Europe. By the 1950s this process was generally gathering pace at this time. Both France and Britain were overcoming post-war shortages and whilst there was a new optimism being generated in Britain after the 1950 Festival of Britain and its espousal of new technologies the mid-1950s saw the post-Suez recognition within both Britain and France that the political world had shifted entirely to a mainspring centred upon the USA in tension with the USSR. The older empires were finally having to readjust to a new world order.
    The growing postwar mood was not just restricted  to the countries of Western Europe. Polish cinema was making its own mark as the Free Cinema programme which featured several Polish directors makes clear.

    What is Social Realism?

    Cinematically the British New Wave is part of a tradition of social realism within British film which has seen many shifts since the growth of the British documentary movement in the 1930s. Realism is a difficult concept because encapsulated within it there are a range of changing aesthetic conventions all of which have as a central concern the intention of representing ‘the world as it really is’ or ‘life as it is really lived’. Lay (2002) points out:

    There is no universal, all-encompassing definition of realism, nor is there agreement amongst academics and film-makers as to its purpose and use. But what we can say is that there are many ‘realisms’ and these realisms all share an interest in presenting some aspect of life as it is lived’. Carroll (1996) suggests that the term should only be used with a prefix attached. This is because another important feature of all realisms is how they are produced at specific historical points. The addition of a prefix, such as social-, neo-, documentary-, specifies the’ what’ and crucially, ‘when’ of that movement or moment. What is regarded as ‘real’, by whom, and how it is represented is unstable dynamic, and ever-changing, precisely because realism is irrevocably tied to the specifics of time and place. ‘Moment’” (Lay, Samantha, 2002: p 8)


    As Andre Bazin also noted, each era looks to the technique and aesthetic which can best capture aspects of reality, thus realism is in itself an aesthetic construct dependent upon a set of artistic conventions and forms. The British New Wave is a part of this process. It has been noted that for a film to be realist rather than just realistic there are 2 necessary fundamentals. There must have been the intention to capture the experience of the event depicted and secondly the film-maker must have a specific argument or message to make about the social world employing realist conventions to express this.

    Raymond Williams has argued that the four main criteria of social realism incorporate the following features:

    1. Firstly that the texts are secular, released from mysticism and religion
    2. Secondly that they are grounded in the contemporary scene in terms of setting, characters and social issues
    3. Thirdly that they contain an element of social extension by which previously under-represented groupings in society become represented
    4. Fourthly there is the intent of the artist which is mostly a political one although some artists have used the genre as route into a mainstream film-making career.


    Social Realism and Representation

    Social realist texts usually focus on the type of characters not generally found in mainstream films. Social realist texts draw in characters who inhabit the social margins of society in terms of status and power. This ‘social extension’ has usually involved the representation of the working class at moments of social and economic change. Hill has noted that this is not just a matter of representing the previously under-represented but that these subjects are represented from different specific social perspectives.

    For example there was a shift in modes of representation of the working class from the Grierson documentaries of the 1930s to British Free Cinema documentaries and the British New Wave features which followed on from the Free Cinema Movement. Free Cinema and New Wave chose to represent the working class neither in victim mode, nor in heroic worker mode as had been done previously. The working class were to be seen as more energetic and vibrant.

    Critics generally accept that women have faired badly in the representations of the British New Wave, although Loach’s Poor Cow (1967) and TV docudramas Up the Junction and Cathy Come Home helped redress the balance. By the 1980s social realist films such as Letter to Brehznev (1985), Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987) reflected the changing nature of society and the growing importance of women in the workforce, not only women but humour too was more apparent. This approach continued into the 1990s with films such as Mike Leigh’s Career Girls (1997). Some have argued that the portrayal of women took a retrograde step in the mid to late 1990s as they became adept consumers unsupportive of husbands as in Brassed Off (1996) and The Full Monty (1997). Alternatively women became victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse Stella Does Tricks (1996), Nil By Mouth.

    It has been argued that in general the representation of the working class has shifted from being producers to consumers reflected in a move which has seen members of the working class in more privatised domestic environments and leisure-time settings instead of as members of geographical communities or in workplace environments where collective bargaining procedures are in place. Hill sees this as starting with British social realist films of the 1960s and continuing into the 1980s and 1990s.

    Whilst social realist representation has tended to focus upon white working class males there has been some breakthrough in terms of race in films such as My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) and Bahji on the Beach (1994). The changing sense of Britishness has been represented through cultural hybridity and multiculturalism from the mid 1980s through until Chada’s Bend it Like Beckham moving from social real to a more fantasy mode in the process. Recently social extension has begun to be granted to the position of asylum seekers and refugees and those effected by the diasporic forces relating to globalisation and the collapse of the psot-capitalist states (Soviet Union / Communist China). Last Resort (Pawlikowski 2000) and Frears’ Dirty Pretty Things (2002) which keeps in the frame wider issues of the structures of globalised inequality from a social realist perspective.

    Another facet of social realist representation has been a tendency towards autobiography suggest Lay (2002). Starting with the work of Bill Douglas and Terence Davie, Lay suggests that this was present in films such as Wish You Were Here (A retro-social realist film), Stella Does Tricks, East is East and Ratcatcher (Lynne Ramsey, 1999). It is arguable that these films contain within them a nostalgic look backwards from a working class perspective which in some sense echoes the growth and success of the ‘heritage film’ in British cinema.



    The British New Wave

    The ‘New Wave emerged in Britain at a time when Macmillan’s concept that the British as ‘a people’ had ‘never had it so good’ was a dominant feature. The long economic boom which had gathered pace during the 1950s alongside the developments in the welfare state and the growth in power of social democratic discourses of meritocracy had led to the emergence of a new social formation of better educated, assertive and frustrated, smart grammar school educated younger people who wanted to see the fustiness and stuffiness of a system based upon status and respect shift into a meritocratic environment. It is difficult to gauge exactly how important the effect of the liberated meritocratic consciousness of United States culture and the British experience of this during the war impacted upon the general level of consciousness but indicators from the work of Jacky Stacey on British working class women audiences who preferred the more meritocratic sentiments of Hollywood to the RADA driven accentuation of much British post-war cinema points to deeper underlying societal shifts.

    The description of cultural phenomena as ‘New Waves’ is an important metaphor which if it is extended fully leads one to note that there were deep up-swellings and currents from which the wave developed. That theatre and cinema and book publishing were challenging the old mores driven by a combination of liberal and social-democratic sentiments can, ironically, be seen as a part of the success of the long economic boom which allowed the youth of the time the relative economic security to dream about other futures. Certainly it would be unwise to split cinema from this rapidly changing socio-cultural milieu. Perhaps this is best illustrated by the positioning and fantasy of Billy Liar (1963) which came at the end of the social realist phase of the ‘New Wave’ and has a more ambiguous nature both in its style and in a recognition that there is social change happening fast. Julie Christie and Schlesinger represent this dramatic shift in Darling.

    The Major British New Wave Films

    Room at the Top (1959): Dir Jack Clayton

    Look Back in Anger (1959): Dir Tony Richardson

    Saturday Night Sunday Morning (1960) : Dir Karel Reisz 

    Taste of Honey (1961): Dir Tony Richardson

    The L Shaped Room (1962):Dir  Bryan Forbes

    A Kind of Loving (1962): Dir John Schlesinger

    Lonliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962): Dir Tony Richardson

    This Sporting Life (1963): Dir Lindsay Anderson

    Billy Liar (1963): Dir John Schlesinger



    Directors and Actors

    The major New Wave directors were Anderson, Reisz and Richardson coming from a background of the Free Cinema. The films dealt with working class subjects and focused on a range of concerns particularly in relation to young people. The films dealt with abortion, prostitution, homosexuality, alienation due to lack of communication and relationship breakdown. The films were intent upon representing a non-London working class environment and were shot in towns such as Nottingham and Mamchester. Black and White fast film stock gave a grainy feel to the film. This was also necessary to cope with the shooting conditions which tended to go for natural lighting and outdoor sets.


    Albert Finney

    Albert Finney 


    Conventional stars were not used rather ,young, usually more working class actors predominated such as Alan Bates, Albert Finney, Richard Burton, Michael Caine and Tom Courtenay. Two of the women most associated with the movement Rita Tushingham and Rachel Roberts interestingly didn’t ‘make it big’ although Julie Christie who came in on the tail-end of the movement in Billy Liar did. The New Wave didn’t actually contribute to the growing pool of regional actors rather it was the way society was changing. Local authority grants for attending drama colleges meant larger numbers were attending and the growth of social realist theatre as well as the rapid growth of TV was creating the demand for more actors. The overall expansion of media was creating pressure for more representation of a wider number of subjects and the sentiments created around the ’People’s war’ had contributed to a widespread recognition of the need to represent the working classes. As Lindsay Anderson had written

    ‘The number of British films that have ever made a genuine try at a story in the popular milieu, with working class characters all through, can be counted on the fingers of one hand... This virtual rejection of three quarters of the population of this country represents a more than a ridiculous impoverishment of the cinema. It is characteristic of a flight from contemporary reality.’[1]

    The films were based upon books and plays who had direct experience of working class life such as Alan Sillitoe, John Braine, David Storey, Shelagh Delaney.

    Tom Courtenay in Lonliness of the Long Distance Runner

    Tom Courtenay in The Lonliness of the Long Distance Runner

    Frequently Jack Clayton’s Room at the Top (1959) is considered as the first of the British ‘New Wave’ films however Hayward considers that his film is best seen as one of the precursors to the movement with Richardson’s Look Back in Anger (1959) being the real beginning of the movement. The film starred Richard Burton. Following this came Karel Reisz’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) starring Albert Finney then A Taste of Honey (Richardson 1962), with Rita Tushingham. A Kind of Loving (Schlesinger, 1962), Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner (Richardson, 1962), This Sporting Life (Anderson, 1963) with Rachel Roberts and Richard Harris. By 1963 over one third of film production was broadly New Wave showing that British cinema could resist Hollywood - at least for a short time.




    Rita Tushingham in Taste of Honey


    Rita Tushinham in Taste of Honey  


    Losey / Pinter’s The Servant also came out in 1963 and their depiction of upper class decadence can be seen as exploring the same socio-cultural phenomenon that Visconti had begun to depict. Visconti was to explore this in depth through firstly The Leopard and later The Damned, Death in Venice and Ludwig. Pinter and Losey were to explore the impact of the growth of the New Universities and the changing media scene on the encrusted cloisters of academia and the upper classes in Accident a few years later. The sentiments in these films by Losey and Visconti are a serious exploration of the writing on the wall for the European aristocracy. Here it is possible to draw comparison with Louis Malle’s The Lovers in which Europe’s other well known upper class film-maker explores the decadence and isolated world of the French and international Haute-Bourgeois, the provincial bourgeois and the newly emergent class of the independent thinker and doer. That it is the representative of this class who ‘gets the woman’ who is herself marked by a break with a break in conventions about the role and position of woman is indicative of a changing consciousness at a European level, in the light of post-war disillusion with a class system which led Europe to disaster and was twice rescued by the USA.


    This Sporting Life

    This Sporting Life


    The social realist films of this ‘new wave’ period were based upon a range of novels and stories which had already made significant inroads into the British psyche. They were adaptations which involved the original authors themselves. The crossovers with theatre were seemingly much stronger than in France. The point is also important as some critics such as Armes have in a rather small minded way pointed out that the directors associated with these films such as Richardson, Anderson and Reisz, were from an upper middle-class public school and Oxbridge background. Linking these directors with Visconti and Malle shows that the European aristocratic hegemony was clearly crumbling and that a new hegemonising process based around a meritocratic process was emerging. Over the longer-term Visconti in Italy and Anderson in Britain might be said to the most consistently left-wing of these directors. John Hill’s later review of the criticism of the British ‘New Wave’ directors attempted to undermine the reductionist sour grapes of Armes and Durgnat by taking a textual approach which noted that although the directors were outside of the class they were representing which can be discerned through the ’marks of ennunciation’ articulating a critical distance between observer and observed. As Aldgate and Richards point out this analysis still left the contextual aspects of criticism largely unexplored.

    Billy Liar

                             Billy Liar


    Hill’s Marxist inflected criticism led to a critique of these films which saw them as misogynistic and many commentators return to this point, however, Murphy has since commented that for the first time women were playing in roles that were far carrying a far more serious emotional weight than the ‘...pathetically trivial roles women had to play in most 1950s British Films.’ [1] In many ways this gender issue needs a careful film by film analysis. By the time of Billy Liar (1962) for example Julie Christie is playing an extremely dynamic role. She feels able to hitch-hike anywhere and comes and goes as she pleases, she is able to transcend the petty provincialism of Nottingham and move to London where she knows that lots of things are happening. By comparison Billy Liar (Tom Courtenay) despite his fantasy life is unable to summon the courage to make the break and move to London and make his dreams come true. In that sense the criticism of the New Wave that it focuses on individuals rather than the possibilities of class solidarity is relevant. The underlying message of Billy Liar is that the newly emergent youth of the 1960s have the possibilities they must have the courage to take these opportunities. That is was a young woman who does this is encouraging from a gender equality perspective. In this the film can be read as a precursor of the ‘Swinging Sixties’.

    Lindsay Anderson’s This Sporting Life also 1963 is perhaps more ambiguous. It can be argued that the representation of the Rachel Roberts character is negative, to the point that she commits suicide however this representation of a woman who is left on a small widow’s pension and is struggling to survive financially yet resists the pressure to be made dependent upon a man is an underlying theme. That she finds suicide the only way out can be read as a comment upon a society that does not make the necessary social space for women. The pressure to succeed at any cost is one which Machin, played by Richard Harris, finds hard to bear. His working life is brutalising and he has come out of the mines into Rugby League a sort of modern gladiator he is unable to provide Mrs. Hammond with what she wants.

    Unlike the cover which describes Mrs. Hammond as ‘frigid’ it is perhaps better to examine the character of Machin whose machismo soon expires when faced with advances from the wife of his boss. Machin likes to control and runs away when he can’t. In this sense it is not unreasonable to argue that there is a crisis of masculinity being represented in which power, sexuality and control allied to class position are all in the process of being renegotiated. The film is also a representation about the possibilities of escaping a drab and dangerous working class life. The professionalisation of sport is just beginning and the film strongly relates to the changing media environment. Stardom is counterpoised to living in a run down terraced house. The incongruity of the Mark IX Jaguar owned by Machin underscores the point.

    In their brief review of the critical literature on the British New Wave Aldgate and Richards note that ‘probably the most trenchant critique’ of the British ‘New Wave’ came from Peter Wollen. Wollen’s criticism largely hinges on a textualist based comparative analysis which judges the British ‘new wave’ with the Cahiers group of French directors who for Wollen’s appear to encapsulate the whole ethos of the French Nouvelle Vague. The SPECT construction of the French New Wave is considered in depth in the section on France, here it can suffice to ask whether the methods and methodological approach were appropriate or rich enough to justify the scathing tone of the attack on the British directors. Drawing on Michael Balcon’s wartime pamphlet Realism or Tinsel Wollen notes that within the British cinema there has been a strong element of a preference for ‘realism’ over ‘tinsel’ an aesthetic structuring which Wollen associates with nationalism:

    This system of value, though most strongly entrenched on the left, ran all the way across the political spectrum. For the right, as with the Left, the aesthetic preference was bound up with nationalism. ‘Tinsel’ was of course bound up with Hollywood escapism and, in contrast, realism evoked local pride and sense of community... British critics praised films they liked in terms of their realism and damned those they did not as escapist trash. The French New Wave, however, aimed to transcend this shallow antinomy.’[2]


    This mode of rhetoric has become a self supporting argument rather than a more fully coherent one based upon differing nuances and circumstances. In the same piece Wollen has conflated the ‘Left Bank’ artists such as Duras and Resnais, more renowned for making documentaries in the earlier 1950s. It is intersting how wollen attacks the crucial diffrence between representations of nation between British and French New Waves. French New Wave was very much a Parisien affair whiclst British New Wave had the guts to represent different parts ogf the country effectively. This could be read as two different nationalisms at work in different ways. 

    Wollen has seemingly eschewed linkages between how the Italian neorealists might have had an effect upon the British shift to realism, there is no linkage with the surrealist impulse which underpinned the work of Humphrey Jennings and which significantly influenced the Free Cinema movement. An appreciation of the non-realist approaches of Powell and Pressburger is also absent. If, for Pressburger especially, ‘Art’ was to function as a form of transcendence then Billy Liar can be seen as playing out the possibilities of transcending one’s social reality either through the growing media through comedy which reverts to fantasy as the limitations of the possibilities overwhelm. Fantasy is carried through the Julie Christie character which emerges in Darling. Both can be read as a critique of ‘false aspirations’ carried by the  nouveau professional classes as well as a deliberate sidelining of the ‘Art for Art’s sake’ argument.

    The British cultural milieu was certainly very different to that of the French in which certain overlaps such as their relations to empire could be noted. If there is a trenchant critique to be made of British ‘New Wave’ then it resides more in its failure to properly represent the diasporic influxes that were changing the cultural and social composition of the industrial cities that they were representing. In this the British were probably no worse than, nor better than, the French. Very few films of the period dealt directly with issues of diaspora and decolonisation. In that sense British New Wave was not realist enough!. In terms of the aesthetics of the British New Wave the use of locations such as back allies, cobbles, seaside towns in winter and empty railway stations works to create a feel which has been described as an aesthetics of urban squalor. Some commentators have considered that this acts to 'romanticise' the ‘decaying infrastructure of industrial Britain' [3] However given that many of the films are dealing with the changes in society the representation of urban and industrialised spaces needs to be considered alongside the representation of newer factories,

    Another critique of British New Wave espoused by Wollen was in its lack of ‘modernism’. In fact the modernism classed as an aesthetic was apparent in the sound tracks, which incorporated British popular music in working class leisure venues, from the skiffle group in Saturday Night Sunday Morning to the dance hall scenes in Billy Liar and This Sporting Life. Interestingly the main music was written and performed by Johnny Dankworth in several of these films including Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and the non New Wave The Servant and Darling. This reflected a strong rise in modernist aesthetics strongly influenced by the culture of the USA. While no sound track is likely to ever compete with the Miles Davis extraordinary and entirely improvised one for Malle’s Lift to the Scaffold, the incorporation of Britain's most influential jazz musicians of the time is indicative of an approach that belies Wollen’s seeming Francophilia and as pointed out above dates from the 1956 Momma don’t Allow . Arguably the British new wave films were tackling a more interesting range of discourses and were coming from a different place to the French processes of modernisation. The task of analysis is to be searching for a greater depth of understanding of these social processes not indulging in a ranking exercise.


    Compare Wollen’s tone with that of John Orr for example; Orr takes a more measured synoptic view of the cinematic processes of modernity, noting in Resnais Nuit et Brouillard (1955), that he moves from the documentary to the imaginary, a shift managed by Schlesinger’s ‘Billy Liar’ in 1963 for example but one set against the changing cityscapes of postwar Britain. Orr refers to Deleuze’s argument that neorealism opened up cinematic space in the new open spaces of Europe’s damaged cities. Whilst Deleuze argues that these were ‘anywhere spaces’ in which the exterior location did not have to define itself the cinematic space of Nottingham which served as location shooting for Saturday Night , Sunday Morning as well as Billy Liar was symbolic of class representation, and the rise of the working classes, it was symbolic of ‘creative destruction’ that great economic engine described so effectively by Schumpeter, with war acting as the great catalyst to this enduring process at the heart of capitalism. It was also symbolic of social, economic and cultural progress. Rather than being associated with the deeply alienated cinematic/ geographical spaces of mainland Europe, British cinema largely avoided the apocalyptic mood of continental Europe.

    Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

      Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

    The story telling of the British new wave was outside of the frenetic and frantic pace of Hollywood and also outside of the cinematic time of the emerging mainstream European modernists like Fellini or Antonioni. British cinema had the intensity of the theatre underpinning it and much of British New Wave was like a kammerspiel on location. It was a variant on mainstream modernism and modernity which was perhaps informed by British pragmatism as much as aesthetic theorising but it also owed something to Rossellini and Visconti.

    It is Rocco and His Brothers (1960) which charts the changing world of the Italian peasant classes as they come to industrial cities such as Milan to create new lives which is arguably one of the more influential films. The role of boxing for example as a sport drawing its workforce from people trying to escape working class drudgery is explored by Visconti. The treatment of the girlfriend of the Rocco by his brother who finally murders her has resonances with This Sporting Life. Where Visconti does score over the British New Wave in terms of class representation is his specific use of recognising that class solidarity is the way forward for the new working classes in that sense Visconti is more of a political film maker than the British New Wave directors.

    In summary the British New Wave worked upon an emergent element of realism which sought to represent elements of the working class and its changing environment. Criticisms have been levelled that the films concentrated on characterisations at the expense of the possibilities of class solidarity as a way forward. This marks a break from the brief associations which were made between the Free Cinema movement and the New Left centered around issues of art, representration and didacticism.  In that sense the underlying discourses can be seen as ones which promote a meritocratic society in which opportunities are available but it is down to the individual actor themselves about whether they make a success of these opportunities.

    There have been many criticisms from feminist critics that these films are generally misogynistic as on the whole they don’t have positive representations of women playing roles as key protagonists within the films. It is possible to take Wollen’s critique seriously in one way for if the lack of ‘tinsel’ which he criticises within the realist mode of the British New Wave is extended to humour then many of the films fall into this category, Look Back in Anger never rated as a side-splitter neither did This Sporting Life. On the whole Billy Liar manages to transcend this tendency which helped to give the impression of British New Wave social realism its grim and gritty reputation. By comparison Truffaut’ 400 Blows, Tirez sur le pianiste and Godard’s A Bout de Souffle were welcome breaths of fresh air displaying a lightness of touch with parodies of gangster movies. In the content of location shooting in the latter two films and even in the more prosaic autobiography Truffaut finds a lightness of touch even in the grim institutions.




    1 [1]Anderson in Hill, 1983 : p 1271

    [1]Murphy cited Aldgate and Richards 2002 p 189.

    2 [2]Wollen, Peter cited in Algate and Richards 2002, p190.

    3 [3]Samantha Lay (2002: p 64) notes this commonly made point.





    .

    British New Wave: A Webliography

    Jazz in 1960s British New Wave Cinema: An Interview with Sir John Dankworth http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/bitstream/2438/743/1/DankwortharticleJP.pdf

    Open University History and the Arts on British New Wave
    http://www.open2.net/historyandthearts/arts/newwave_p.html


    The Importance of Humphrey Jennings as an influence on the British New Wave directors should not be underestimated, several of these directors like Reisz, Anderson and Richardson were also deeply involved in thte Free Cinema Movement

    Lindsay Anderson on Humphrey Jennings: Sight & Sound, Spring 1954

    Free Cinema the Precursor to the British New Wave

    British Cinema: Social Realism – Webliography






    Free Cinema the Precursor to the British New Wave

    Free Cinema the Precursor to the British 'New Wave'

    with a 16mm camera, and minimal resources, and no payment for your technicians, you cannot achieve very much - in commercial terms. You cannot make a feature film and your possibilities of experiment are severely limited. But you can use your eyes and your ears. you can give indications. you can make poetry. (Programme notes to Free Cinema 3)

    Introduction


    Lindsay Anderson

    Lindsay Anderson


    The Free cinema movement in Britain is rightly described on the cover of the BFI three disc set called Free Cinema as a "highly influential but critically neglected" movement in cinema history.  This article sets out to help publicise and establish a wider critical discourse around this body of films. Free Cinema itself started out as a cultural event at the National Film Theatre (NFT) in 1956. This proved to be extraordinarily popular and allowed Karel Reisz who was programme planner at the NFT at the time as well as an active film-maker to hold another five programmes which went on until March 1959. The films themselves were documentaries which were made in the spirit of the quirky at times quasi-surrealist fashion tradition of Humphrey  Jennings rather than in the more seemingly "objective observer" tradition of Grierson. The full six programmes afforded enthusistic audiences to see a range of films that would have been almost impossible to see otherwise and all the screenings were a sell out. Critical and audience success are the two benchmarks by which we can judge the success of the movement. 

    An International Dimension

    Karel Reisz

    Karel Reisz


    Lindsay Anderson, Karel Reisz, Tony Richardson were responsible for putting together the six programmes and their own films were screened in Free Cinema, Free Cinema 3: Look at Britain and Free Cinema 6: The Last Free Cinema. Importantly the other three Free Cinema programmes screened the work of Foreign Directors including Lionel Rogosin, Georges Franju and Norman McLaren in Free Cinema 2. Free Cinema 4: Polish Voices screened work by Roman Polanski, Walerian Borowcyzk and others. Free Cinema 5: French Renewal screened work by Claude Chabrol and Francois Truffaut. When one looks at the directors who made their films in Britain as a part of this series of programmes one can see that there was a strong committment to opening up the cinema to a wide range of international mainly European influences including some from behind the Iron Curtain which must have taken some organising only a couple of years after the infamous Hungarian uprising. 


    Movement or Tendency?

    Lorenza Mazzetti

    Lorenza Mazzetti

    According to Lindsay Anderson this film movement or tendency coincided with the seminal theatrical work of the period John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger (1956). Anderson was responsible for assembling the programme of shorts and documentaries which were to be shown at the National Film Theatre. The concept of being ‘free’ cinema meant that the films were made outside of the framework of the industry and because the films were personal statements about contemporary society. Hayward (1996) suggests that tendency is a better term than a movement in so far as the Free Cinema programme was eclectic and international rather than being comprised of directors who had a common style and common ideals. There were three directors who did form the basis of a movement, Karel Reisz, Tony Richardson and Lindsay Anderson. According to Tony Richardson the term free cinema was originally invented to describe the documentary films made by these directors during the 1950s. Later Anderson was to deny that Free Cinema could be described as a movement.

    Regarding the documentaries they considered that these should be made free of all commercial pressures and based upon a humanistic and poetic approach. In espousing these sentiments their work owed more to the poetic realism of Humphrey Jennings than to the more positivist sociological inflections of John Grierson. The intellectual backdrop for this approach came from the magazine Sequence which Anderson had founded in 1946. Many articles had focused upon the conformity and apathy engendered by the documentaries of the time whilst others targeted at the feature film had criticised the lack of aesthetic experimentation.

    In Sequence Anderson and Reisz concentrated upon issues of style and criticised the conformity in feature films in terms of the narrative structure which was largely based upon the Hollywoodised ‘classic narrative cinema’. They also attacked the bourgeois nature of this cinema and accused it of lacking reality because of its very weak representation of the working class. They also criticised the industrial giants Rank and ABC (part of Warner Bros) which were the only two feature film companies in distribution and exhibition at this time.

    Overall I tend to come down on the side of the argument that argues it was a movement, for the notion of tendency seems to imply a much looser milieu whilst this one was relatively compact and just like  Neorealism and much of the French New Wave the leading members had been working on the same critical magazine. If it wasn't bound by a tight manifesto it was more than just a bunch of people drifting along as the following quotation from Anderson taken from the Free Cienam 1 programme indicates:

    Talking with Karel, Tony and Lorenza about the miserable difficulty of getting our work shown I came up with the idea (at least I think it was me) that we should form ourselves into a movement, should formulate some kind of manifesto and thereby grab the attention of the press and try to get a few days showing at the National Film Theatre. (Booklet accompanying the BFI Free Cinema DVD).

    Anderson notes later that even though they got an interview on Panorama the manifesto was a ploy to get Momma Don't Allow, Oh Dreamland and Together all screened. It is clear that they were overtaken by thier success and that there was an audience out there wanting more and different content. The problem with manifestos is that they can act as poles of attraction and create their own impetus. 


    These films were not made together; nor with the idea of showing them together. But when they came together, we felt they had an attitude in common. Implicit in this attitude is a belief in freedom, in the importance of people and in the significance of the everyday

    Filmmaking Methods

    Despite Hayward's doubts there were a number of features in common between the British made films. They were all made in black and white using hand-held Bolex cameras that were only capable of 22 second shots at the maximum. They were documentaries and they largely avoided the use of didactic style voice-over commentaries.There tended to be a lack of narrative continuity and sound and editing was fairly impressionistic. There was also a conscious decision to go out of the studio and film the reality of contemporary Britain. The possibilities for this were improved as the revolutionary HPS (hypersensitive) film stock from Ilford came onto the market. Although the use of this has become associated with the French New Wave in an interview with Walter Lassally the main cinematographer of the British Free Cinema he points out that he drew the attention of the  French directors to the  use of the high speed Ilford film allowing for nighttime shooting. Another distinguishing feature which makes the work of these three directors a movement is the use made of Walter Lassally as the camera-person on four out of the six films which belong to this oeuvre. Because of the low funding available all were very low to low budget films.

    The Financing 

    When it came to making their own films unsurprisingly Rank was not forthcoming with finance for these trenchant critics of the British film making institutions. The British Film Institute (BFI) Experimental Film Fund and more surprisingly Ford’s of Dagenham which commissioned a series of documentaries called Look at Britain two of which were made by the Free Cinema directors: Anderson, Every Day Except Christmas (1957) and Reisz’s We Are the Lambeth Boys (1959). The BFI provided funding for Momma Don’t Allow (Richardson and Reisz, 1956).


    Momma Don't Allow

    Tony Richardson

    Tony Richardson


    Momma Don’t Allow explored the  leisure particularly looking at jazz and dance and noting a mixing of the classes on the dance floor. The editing reflected the jazz syncopation and the importance of jazz and dance and emerging popular music was an important facet of the later New Wave features with Johnny Dankworth providing the music for Reisz’s Saturday Night, Sunday Morning as well as for Losey’s The Servant (1963) -a film not usually classed as British New Wave but one which can be seen as part of the whole changing culture of Britain none the less. Dankworth also did the soundtrack for Schlesinger’s Oscar winning Darling (1965), which takes both his and Julie Christie’s career post-British New Wave and into London’s 'Swinging Sixties' with representations of a new media and show biz glitteratti and people trying to make it. 

    In Britain the cinematic ‘New Wave’ was born out of the conjunction of two tendencies with Richardson playing an important part in both. Firstly there was the growth of new sentiments emerging through the theatre and its responses to the growth of social consensus developed in Britain in the 1950s. Secondly there was the influence of British Free Cinema. In this sense it is perhaps better to talk of a rapidly changing cultural milieu especially in London which both senses and participated in changing British society and was made up from a range of generally younger artists operating in various branches of the arts.


    The Free Cinema Films


    Free Cinema Programme 1

    Walter Lassally

    Cinematographer Walter Lassally


    O Dreamland, (1953): Directed Lindsay Anderson

    Momma don't Allow (1956) Karel Reisz  and Tony Richardson

    Momma Don

    Momma Don't Allow


    Together (1956) Lorenza Mazzetti

    Free Cinema Programme 3

    Wakefield Express (1952): Lindsay Anderson

    Nice Time (1957) Claude Goretta & Alain Tanner

    Piccadilly Circus from Nice Time

    Picadilly Circus from Nice Time


    Everyday Except Christmas (1957) Lindsay Anderson (winner of the documentary prize at the Venice film festival)

    Everyday except Xmas

    Everyday Except Christmas


    The Singing Street (1952): McIsaac, Ritchie, Townsend


    We are the Lambeth Boys (1959) Karel Reisz


    We Are the Lambeth Boys 1

    We are the Lambeth Boys


    Refuge England (1959) Robert Vas

    Enginemen (1959) Michael Grigsby


    Food for a Blush (1959) Elizabeth Russell


    The End is the Beginning 


    Free Cinema


    Unlike many artistic movements the Free Cinema movement was very clear about the sixth programme being the last one. It is extremly hard work being underfunded and on the edge. Prizes had been won and recognition had been won. Anderson, Reisz and Richardson were in a position to move on to making proper feature films. As the Times of  1959 noted they had made documentaries for thier generation in a style which marked the changing times for it was very different to the Griersonian method of 30 years ago. 

    It is important to recognise just how much they were part of a wider socio-cultural movement in the country as the Times notes. Richardson had  co-founded the English Stage Production Company with George Devine. He had directed Osborne's very successful and groundbreaking Look Back in Anger in 1956 and this led to Osborne ad Richardson establishing Woodfall Films in 1959.

    The new opportunities and the shift in culture allowed the full length features of the British Social Realist movement to emerge. This would probably not have happened had the Free Cinema not emerged in the first place.  


    Webliography 


    http://www.bfi.org.uk/features/freecinema/archive/ellis-freecinema.html

    This BFI page is a route into some excellent resources which are unlikely to be bettered.

    Lindsay Anderson writing in Sight and Sound on Humphrey Jennings who was a core inspirational force for the Free Cinema directors.  

    Geocities on Free Cinema. This is an example of a website which only partially knows its facts. It asserts that it was founded on the precepts of Italian neorealism. In fact Humphrey Jennings had far more influence and he was a neorealist before neorealism! Second point is the argument that it was heavily influenced by the French New Wave. As it was Walter Lassally who passed over ideas to the French cinematographers about shooting on Ilford 400 ASA this doesn't quite add up, neither do the dates. The reality is that the most imaginative young film makers in both countries were developing different approaches to film making. The issue of how far there was an inter-relationship and cross-fertilisation of ideas is what needs to be explored.  

    Senses of Cinema Review of the BFI Triple DVD release of Free Cinema

    Guardian review feature on the Free Cinema movement.

    Vertigo Magazine 2004 on: Documentary is Dead – Long Live Documentaries! This makes important reference to Free Cinema as well as considring the state of documnetary now in relation to TV. Julian Petley's comments about regulation are of particular interest.



    Morgan: a Suitable Case for Treatment: (1966). Director Karel Reisz

    Morgan: a Suitable Case for Treatment: (1966). Director Karel Reisz

    Introduction

    Morgan isn't one of the best known films from the 'Swinging Sixties' period nevertheless it is a film by one of Britain's best directors of the time and somebody who had been central to the quiet revolution going on in British cinema during the late 1950s. He worked with Lindsay Anderson on Sequence and wrote a book  'The Technique of Film Editing' which has become a classic within the field. He was programme planner at the National Film Theatre which helped to bring into being the 'Free Cinema Movement.' He also directed one of the classics of the British Social Realist movement Saturday Night, Sunday Morning. Reisz's work always had a socio-political edge to it and Morgan was no exception. Morgan does capture the infectious mood of the times which would have been appreciated by many of its target audience whilst raising in a humourous way the issues of what the outcomes in society of having a better educated group of people of working class origin were. 




    Karel Reisz


    Karel Reisz: Director of Morgan a Suitable Case for Treatment







    The Screenplay


    The screenplay was by playwright David Mercer one of several dramatists such as Harold Pinter who were to make major contributions to British television drama, as well as theatre and film scripts in the 1960s. Mercer was probably the first major English dramatist to emerge directly from television rather than through the theatre system. Many of these playrights were from the social background of the 'Angry Young Men' and were throwing up challenges to the status quo

    The screenplay for Morgan was adapted by David Mercer from his original TV play, A Suitable Case for Treatment (1962), transmitted by the BBC as a 'Sunday Night Play'. In the film adaptation of the play, Morgan wears a gorilla suit to gatecrash his ex-wife's wedding and becomes incarcerated / committed (depending on your point of view) to a psychiatric hospital. Neither of these elements were present in the play. Other changes are that Morgan is an artist rather than a writer, and correspondingly Napier is an art dealer instead of a publisher. The world of visual communications does make for better viewing and art is a more class based thing in terms of who can afford it. Arguably the use of art heightens the sense of class division. It certainly reflects the zeitgeist or spirit of the times for many art students were providing the dynamic for the burgeoning pop / rock industry which was expanding dramatically as the disposable incomes of the young went up. Those art students were less likely to be going to Hamlet than Beatles concerts or jazz clubs. 


    Socio-cultural Context 

    Historically we can look back and see this time in London as part of the transition towards the ‘postmodern’ when art becomes popularised through artists like Warhol in the States and Peter Blake in Britain. In retrospect we could offer a reading which is reflecting upon the changes in the world of art at the time. The use of the writer / publisher binary from 1962 would seem to reflect upon the ‘Angry Young Man’ of the 1950s which relates to the British New Wave social realism so in this sense the screenplay has been updated to reflect a decade of rapid social change. Morgan as an artist who has gained his art education as part of the growing affluence of the country is still socially excluded from the upper middle classes and the stuffy world of art as a space of collectors versus those who wish to produce for others is a core social tension explored throughout the film. As such Morgan is a metaphor for the Lambeth boy of Reisz's earlier documentary film who has made good intellectually but is still excluded socially. The manic images of Morgan in the car provide a direct visual link to the Lambeth lads as they return from being patronised playing the cricket team of a public school. There is the same joie de vivre and refusal to obey outdated social strictures without resistance. 

    Jane Moat on the Screen Online site describes the film a little disparagingly as ‘simplified’ with ‘the modishness of much 1960s British cinema in its setting, art direction, costumes, cinematography and music soundtrack.’ Viewed now it can be read as a useful document of the 1960s offering insights into the tensions surrounding the London cultural scene as artist album covers were becoming recognised pieces of art in their own right. Moat appears to miss the depth of the Zeitgeist. Just as films such as A bout de souffle and Paris nous appartient are importsant in their representations of contemporary Paris so Morgan moves through different social spaces and urban places providing us with an interesting representation of London and its institutions formal and informal of the time. 

    The film contains an iconoclastic spirit which is repeated the following year in Tony Richardson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade which also celebrates the shifts in the art world through its inventive use of cartoon work which seemingly helped inspire Terry Gilliam’s work on Monty Python’s Flying Circus. There is a sort of quirky British style surrealism which also inhabited Lindsay Anderson’s Oh Dreamland. One must remember that surrealism itself had a strong radical political edge and has been present in British cinema since the time of Humphrey Jennings a mentor of British Free Cinema.  Moat's analysis seems over-academicised and London-centric.

    Moat also notes that the original play explored a ‘familiar Mercer theme’ examining the relationship between social alienation and madness. This is an important point and can be seen as a representation which is playing on tensions within the British cultural establishment between those who were representative of ‘high culture’ and the wider desire to break down some of the class barriers.


    The Actors 





    warner_suitable_case_for_treatment.jpg

    David Warner

    Warner had been used by the British 'new wavers' before playing Blifil in Tony Richardson's Tom Jones (1963). He then became prominent on theatre world playing Hamlet with the RSC in 1965.
    MacFarlane in the  Encyclopedia of British Film sees him as "...a key figure of the new British cinema of the decade."







    For British audiences the leading actors were part of a rising generation who were also challenging the status quo. For Moat they were as ‘fashionable as the décor’. David Warner had recently played  Hamlet at Stratford which Moat suggests with which the politically-conscious university students of the mid-1960s could identify although how many would be going to Hamlet rather than CND marches or rock concerts is debateable.  Whilst the Stratford theatre was a core place for the professionals and drama students a run of Hamlet wasn't what was making the country tick. The long boom, Labour governments and a rise of educated people gravitating towards media and cultural industries, concern with the Vietnam and the rise of Apartheid generally were. 

    Vanessa Redgrave in Morgan

    Vanessa Redgrave was beginning to make a name in films after nearly a decade of classical stage roles and had become linked to Tony Richardson a stalwart of Woodfall films and also associated with Britsh social realism. In this sense there was a developing cultural milieu in London which was fully intertwined with the process of cultural change that was taking place. 

    Along with the other work of Woodfall films and those involved in it there is an ongoing political and social edge to the film which links into the wider shifts in the cultural milieu cutting across a wide range of cultural forms including music, art, theatre, TV as well as cinema. At the same time it is infused with a sixties spirit of critical humour. Along with Charge of the Light Brigade Woodfall films can be seen as playing an important role in deliberately combining aspects of ‘Swinging London’ with a political edge.


    Synopsis 

    Morgan Delt (David Warner) is a working class artist from a  Communist background and married to and in the process of divorce from an upper middle-class wife Leonie (Vanessa Redgrave). Thematically he is obsessed by gorillas - he visits them in the zoo, fantasises about them and identifies with them. When  Leonie divorces him, Morgan returns to their house, digs out his Marxist and gorilla paraphernalia paints a hammer and sickle on the mirror, and puts a skeleton in the bed. In response Leonie takes out a court junction to bar him from the house, and he makes his home in her car outside. how one reads the Gorilla is uncertain however it seems that the ineffectiveness of this powerful animal could well be a metaphor for the caging of the working class. Also gorillas were known to be coming an endangered species by this time so the linkages between Marxism and Gorillas could have been a commentary on the nature of class itself.

    Leonie is still attracted to Morgan but she but there is considerable social pressure for her to normalise. Charles Napier, an art dealer is the new man in her life. Morgan goes to 'sort him out' at his gallery, armed to the teeth, but Napier is unimpressed and throws him out. Morgan then puts a tape recorder in the house and plays a loud recording of a rocket launching when Napier next takes Leonie to bed. Morgan also manages to blow up his class obessessed mother-in-law with a bomb under the bed.

    Morgan's communist mother runs a café, which he drops into from time to time. Despite being accuessed of beingf a class traitor by sleeping with the enemy he accompanies her on the annual pilgrimage to Karl Marx's tomb in Highgate Cemetery.

    By now Morgan  camped in a vehicle outside Leonie’s house in what would now be considered as ‘stalking’. Leonie has the car towed away, but Morgan returns. He visits a psychiatrist, who considers him "a suitable case for treatment".  Leonie's ambivalence allows her to sleep with Morgan agian.    He wants her to have his baby, but Leonie determined to marry Napier and proceeds with her wedding plans. Clearly the message is marriage is based upon class and property rather than desire and meritocracy.

    Morgan and his mother's friend Wally, who is a professional wrestler who goes under the name of 'The Gorilla', kidnap Leonie and take her to Wales, camping by a lake. Morgan fantasises that he and Leonie are Tarzan and Jane, but Leonie is still resolved to marry Napier. Her father tracks her down and rescues her and Morgan is sent to prison.

    Morgan is released from prison on the day of Leonie's wedding. He sees King Kong at the cinema, and hires a gorilla suit. Dressed in the suit, he gatecrashes the wedding, scaling the hotel walls like Kong. Chaos ensues, Morgan flees but the suit catches fire. Smouldering, Morgan steals a motorbike and drives into the river. He is washed up on a rubbish tip on the shore at Battersea. He cannot get the gorilla head off, panics and begins to hallucinate that everything and everybody emotionally meaningful to him  conspire against him with his enemies . Reisz provides a fantasy sequence where Morgan dreams that he is straitjacketed and shot by firing squad. These are very different fantasies to those of power and control  seen in Schlesinger's Billy Liar made on the cusp of social realism  to the Swinging Sixties. Morgan wakes up and is taken to hospital and here Reisz has managed to shift class differences to a mental interior instead of the grey squalid conditions of Britain's industrial heartlands represented in the social realist movement.

    The finale takes place when Leonie, who is now pregnant, is filmed walking through a garden. It transpires that it is the grounds of the asylum in which Morgan has been placed. He is engaged in making a flowerbed in the shape of the hammer and sickle. Leonie tells him that the baby is his and the ending is left open.

    Overall the film very effectively catches the spirit of the early to mid sixties 1960s and the changing cultural scene and the class values which are being reshuffled as challenges to the old more conservative order are being reconfigured. In the light of what is now understood about stalking and harassment of ex-partners the film might well be read rather differently than at the time as gender politics had yet to make an appearance and the intended underlying messages were more concerned with class conflict and the emergence of what we now describe as cultural industries. In this sense the humour can be seen to have a gender bias.  The strengths of the film  is that the underlying social pressures upon relationships are being explored in ways which simply would not have been possible 10 years previously. 

    The fact that Morgan is placed in an asylum might also be an early reference to the rise of radical psychiatry which emerged in the 1960s and reached a peak of influence in the 1970s based upon the work of Laing and Cooper in the Tavistock clinic. Their work was partially concerned with socio-cultural and class issues with regard to schizophrenia.

    Models of Anti Psychatry




    Webliography

    http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/440263/index.html

    http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/440263/synopsis.html


    October 20, 2007

    Georges–Henri Clouzot (1907–1977)

    Georges-Henri Clouzot (1907-1977)

    wages_of_fear.jpg


    Clouzot made 10 feature length films four of which won international prizes. Clouzot was born in the south-western provincial town of Niort. In 1922 his father’s bookshop went bankrupt and the family moved to Brest in 1922. Here Clouzot tried to join the navy but was rejected due to myopia. Clouzot then tried to study diplomacy in Paris but quickly found that he was from the wrong class, he was ‘quickly made aware that one doesn’t belong’. Clouzot then turned first to theatre as a playwright and then to cinema to screen writing. At the beginning of the 1930s he worked for the Paris based office of Ufa (the German film company). By 1932 he had moved to Babelsberg making French-language versions of German box-office successes. It was here that he met Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau, who were then at Ufa, experimenting with the Expressionist chiaroscuro lighting designs which strongly influenced Clouzot's later films noir. Clouzot moved back to Paris after 2 years as he had become too friendly with a Jewish producer.

    Clouzot was often in ill health throughout and his return to Paris saw him coming down with pulmonary TB. Clouzot was confined to a Swiss sanatorium for three years supported by friends. During this time he voraciously read popular romans policier. This love of crime thrillers strongly influenced his future output.

    In 1938 Clouzot returned to Paris meeting Pierre Fresnay who helped him get back into cinema. Clouzot also met the actor / singer Suzy Delair who sustained a relationship with him for 12 years finally leaving him after working with him on Quai des Orfevres (1947).

    1940 saw the occupation of France with Germany taking over the film industry under the aegis of Continental Films as a part of it’s wider aims to establish a European wide counterweight to Hollywood. Alfred Greven headed Continental and knew Clouzot from his days in Germany. Initially Clouzot declined however hunger drove him as well as others into Greven’s power. Clouzot became director of screen writing first adapting Simenon’s Les inconnu dans la maison (1942) Henri Decoin. Already Clouzot started to make the film darker than the original story setting a trend for his later films. The author Stanislas-Andre Steeman L’Assassin Habite au 21 and Quai des Orfèvres commented that Clouzot would rebuild the story ‘after having contemptuously demolished any resemblance to the original, purely for the ambition of effect’ [1] This commented was indicative of both an auteurial appraoch and also a sense of violence which later became apparent in Clouzot’s misogynistic treatment of his women actors a tendency he shared with Hithcock: In order to get the effect he wanted (be it anger or tears) he would quarrel with actors, slap them - in short, shock them into the mood required. ... He was the boss, and he was tough and a perfectionist.’ [2]

    Dissatisfied with Les inconnu dans la maison Clouzot turned to directiong completing his first feature, L’Assassin Habite au 21 (1942). With resources being extremely restricted Clouzot learned to plan his films very tightly working from a very tight story board to organise shooting time and space. Shortages of film meant there was a maximum of two takes. The film was completed very cheaply in only 16 days.

    Le Corbeau (1943) was his second feature. It earned him the title of auteur-metteur-en-scene. The term came from Jean Cocteau because he considered Clouzot to be both a master of mise-en-scene as well as being the author of his film text. This was a position developed well before the auteur debates which developed during the 1950s. By comparison the actor Louis Jouvet discerned a a tension for Clouzot between the need to resolve technical issues and keep to his text simultaneously. Some argue that this underlying artistic tension helps bring the edge to Clouzot’s films that they are renowned for. Discussion of Le Corbeau is dealt with in the separate case study. Suffice it to say here the content of the film resulted in Clouzot being controversially banned from film making for 4 years after the liberation by the ‘Cleansing committee’ which found him guilty of collaboration.


    Quai des Orfevres


    Quai des Orfevre (1947)




    Despite the ban Clouzot worked on his next film Quai des Orfèvres (1947), in which Suzy Delair and husband Bernard Blier are the chief suspects of the inspector played by Louis Jouvet following a killing at a downmarket Parisian music-hall. Clouzot further developed his skills at suspense. Clouzot also developed his skills at directing his actors gaining a reputation for explaining the scenes very lucidly and making the actors feel very secure according to Jouvet[3]. The film was extremely successful gaining best Director Award at Cannes and a box office of 5.5 million.




    Manon

    Manon won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival 1949




    Clouzot followed this film with Manon (1949) which received the Golden Lion award at the Venice film festival and a box office of 3.4 million. Clouzot’s next film the period comedy Miquette et sa mere (1950) an adaptation from a theatre play was something of a failure. However it was during the filming of this that Clouzot met his future wife Vera Gibson Amadeo a Brazilian.

    The Clouzot’s then went to Brazil for a time and the knowledge gleaned from this visit strongly influenced the making of The Wages of Fear (1952). Vera had an important role in producing the film as Clouzot established Vera Productions as a finance vehicle and Vera herself was involved in production until she died a premature death from heart attack in 1960. A very tense thriller based on a book by Georges Arnaud filmed in the Camargue region to simulate Venezuela it kept the cost down. Due to a bout of illness combined with bad weather it took much longer to shoot than originally planned. The film won the Grand Jury prize at Cannes in 1953 gained an audience of 6.3 million in France and did well internationally.

    Les Diaboliques



    This was followed by the very successful Les Diaboliques (1955) with a box office of 3.7 million was a film noir to end film noir as it has been described. The mystery was adapted from the novel Celle Qui N’Etait Pas by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac, whose D’ Etre les Mortes was later brought to the screen as Vertigo by Hitchcock. But the connection with Hitch doesn't end there, as Clouzot clearly shared his contempt for his casts. Simone Signoret his leading actress complained, “He does not ask you to do things, he demands that you do things... Clouzot does not really respect actors. He claims he could make anyone act.”

    Hayward (2005) argues that Clouzot was never again to attain the heights he achieved with these two films which can be reduced to two primary factors. Firstly rather than further capitalising on the thriller genre Clouzot made a film of his friend Picasso Le Mystere Picasso (1956). Clouzot was also getting out of touch with the changing cultural climate of France which was beginning to modernise and develop a youth generation which was to culminate in la nouvelle vague.




    Clouzot with Picasso

    Clouzot with Picasso






    Les Espions (1957) a cold war thriller (1.8 million box office) was something of a disappointment by Clouzot’s previous successes. Critics, including François Truffaut, who were keen to consign Clouzot to their 'Tradition of Quality' / cinema du papa. Generically the film had much that was influenced by Les Daiboliques and the plot and characterisation failed to convince.

    Despite the damage that had been done to Clouzot's reputation the courtroom thriller La Vérité (1960) co-scripted by his wife just before she died was successful at the box office starring Brigitte Bardot and Sami Frey it appealed to younger audiences with 5.7 million at the box office. Nevertheless it received a cool critical reception and he went eight years without completing another feature La Prisonniere (1968). Illness had intervened again and Clouzot suffered a heart attack soon after starting to film L'Enfer, which he began filming in 1964. Claude Chabrol his successor as a master of suspense eventually filmed the story in 1994. Chabrol made clear his indebtedness to Clouzot in the DVD extras when it was released. Hayward comments that he was: Old fashioned, stuck in his practices and uninventive and seemingly having lost his touch, the nouvelle vague consigned him to the purgatorial ranks of the cinema du papa, and Clouzot was an auteur no more’ [4].

    Hayward’s monograph on Les Diaboliques is a sustained attempt to argue that Clouzot was in fact an auteur and to point out that history has seen him as being accepted as one. Clouzot’s sense of humour is darker than Wilder’s or even Hitchcock’s being 'slightly nasty’. His development of mise en scene is bleaker and more detailed than Hitchcock’s as well as being seedier the glamour of both settings and characters in the later Hitchcock’s is missing. Arguably the horror is darker than Hitchcock. with whom he is probably most usefully compared.

    In terms of his status as an auteur the standard benchmarks of auteur status are largely present. Clouzot had overall control of his films from script from stroy board to the shooting. He usually radically altered the original stories to make the text his own and here the complaint of the author Stanislas-Andre Steeman mentioned above corroborates the cinematic qualities of the films. This can be compared to Truffaut’s criticisms of a Aurant and Bost that they didn’t allow for cinema in their adaptations. Clouzot also shot in both studio and on location again circumventing another of Truffaut’s complaints abut cinema du papa being studio based. Furthermore many of the technicians and the production team were constants on Clouzot’s films. Armand Thirard was Clouzot’s director of photography in seven out of ten of his features and William-Robert Sivel was the sound operator in 9 out of ten of the films [5]. Many of the actors he used appear in many of his films and his brother collaborated in the screenplays of 4 of his films. Clouzot’s artistic vision in the realm of suspense and persuading the audience to suspend disbelief also arguably increased at least up until Les Diaboliques. On these grounds whether Clouzot should be consigned to the ranks of cinema du papa is a highly suspect charge.



    1 [1]Cited Hayward 2005 p 3.

    2 [2]Hayward 2005 p 3.

    3 [3]Hayward 2005 p 5.

    4 [4]Hayward 2005 p 8.

    5 [5]Figures taken from Hayward 2005 p 9.



    The Heritage Film in France

    The Heritage Film in France

    Introduction

    In Britain the critical definition of the ‘heritage genre’ was first used by Andrew Higson who argued that it takes its subject from ‘...the culturally respectable classicisms of literature, painting music’ (Higson, 1993: p113). Higson also identifies this type of film with a particular aesthetic which tends towards linear narrative structures and a filmic style which is pictorialist, utilising crane shots and high angle shots which separate the spectator from the character point of view and allow for a spectacular and sumptuous mise-en-scene. The framing of these films tends to be reliant upon long takes, deep focus, long and medium shots rather than using close ups and rapid cuts. Higson’s analysis was immediately followed by many critics who readily identified a genre which was being associated with a conservative retrenchment of the 1980s. There is currently a re-evaluation of this term which was normally a disparagement. The re-evaluation is being led by the work of Claire Monk. The term is associated with a range of films which can cover historical biographies, costume dramas, canonical literary adaptations and historical re-enactments. In Britain at least, the perceived emergence of this type of film was also associated with a range of cultural industries under the term ‘Heritage industries’. Austin suggests that the heritage film is closely linked to la tradition of qualite in France and emerges in parallel to the heritage film in Britain marked by most critics by Chariots of Fire 1981.

    What Created the Conditions for the French Heritage Film Industry?

    It is often considered that heritage / historical type films are commonly associated with a crisis in national identity. France like Britian in the 1980s was facing the pressure of de-industrialisation. With rising unemployment as globalisation and the introduction of new informatio technologies started to take effect it certainly seems as thought the socio-cultural conditions were ripe to support an audience for this type of film.

    Austen (1996) suggests that the refining of the avances sur recettes by Jack Lang made the ‘culturally respectable heritage genre the major beneficiary’, although young directors such as Beneix and Besson along with older auteurs such as Varda, Resnais and Bresson also benefited. In 1984 Lang chose the publisher Christian Bourgois to head the avance sur recettes system with a brief to target ‘culture’. This enabled Berri to fund his Pagnol adaptations. Marcel Pagnol had been highly successful as both film-maker and novelist. In 1986 over 6 million saw Jean de Florette and over four million saw the sequel Manon des sources made at the same time. Lang’s conception can be seen as one of high culture for the masses mediated through the cultural industries. In the late 1980s when the socialists were temporarily out of power Lang’s successor Francois Leotard suppressed aid for ‘artistic’ films. On his return to office Lang reintroduced the aid which included direct aid for 10-15 high quality films per year according to Predal (1991).

    Two French Cinemas in the 1980s?

    Powrie (1999) suggests that two types of cinema rather than genres became dominant in the French cinema of the 1980s measured by indicators of audience and media coverage. Powrie identifies these as the cinema du look which had played itself out by the early 1900s and heritage cinema. These types of films which unsettled the classic distinction of French cinema as being divided between the generic dominated by polars or thrillers alongside comedies on the one hand and the auteurs on the other. While cinema du look took a back-seat, the heritage film continued to grow in strength. Powrie argues that this type of film became hegemonic although its focus shifted from the 1980s to become ‘less idyllic and more problematically nostalgic.

    Since 1991 Powrie notes that French audience figures have been rising from around 35 million to approximately 50 million by 1998. Powrie explains this by noting that a survey of audiences of over 500,000 for films showed that the average age of spectators had increased to over 31 years old breaking with the results of previous surveys which saw film going as primarily an entertainment for 15-24 age bracket. This provides at least a partial explanation for the success of cinema du look during the 1980s. Powrie argues that the popularity of the heritage film provides a partial explanation for the changing age profile of the audience. Clearly more research work needs to be done on this issue to get a better idea of the changing composition of the audiences. Perhaps those attracted into the cinema by cinema du look broadened their cinematic horizons? Perhaps those not impressed by cinema du look were attracted back into the cinema? In so far as heritage is strongly inter-linked with notions of national identity doubtless many were attracted to representations of the past from those who were not interested in standard Hollywood fare and had tired of the home-produced genre output. Powrie also notes that the comedy genre adapted to the heritage output as forms of pastiche. Powrie admits that this notion of ‘heritage pastiche’ is contentious however his edited work on French Cinema in the Nineties carries separate readings of Ridicule (Leconte, 1996) a costume comedy, Le Bonheur est dans le pre (Chatiliez, 1995) a postmodern Almodovarian style comedy and Les Visiteurs (Poire, 1993), which has a play on notions of medieval heritage and with 14 million viewers is the second most successful French film of all time.

    Powrie contends that there is a ‘cartography’ of heritage cinema in which there are three broad categories: ‘official’ heritage; ‘postcolonial’ heritage; ‘Vichy’ heritage. Representative of official heritage is Germinal (Berri: 1993). In 1992 three films appear which can be read as mourning ‘the loss of an era, of a colonial empire, of a utopian world; the loss of France’s influence and prestige’ (Norindr, 1996:140). Films of this ilk are L’Amant, (Annaud), Indochine (Wargnier), Dien Bien Phu (Schoendorffer). The third type, ‘Vichy‘ heritage is like the ‘postcolonial’ ‘anchored in a move by historians to review the past which came to haunt the French with highly public trials of Vichy officials in the 1990s...’ (Powrie, 1999: p 6).

    Heritage cinema is important in terms of constructions of cultural citizenship and is something which French cinema is having to come to terms with. The main focus of French cinema in the 1980s and 1990s became the ‘Heritage’ film in which Jack Lang promoted a policy of investment<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[1]<!--[endif]--> which agrees with Powrie’s definition of ‘official’ heritage. This policy has run in parallel with promotion of the system of co-production which is considered in more detail in the chapter on UK cinema. The turn to the costume drama was seen as a way of utilising heritage to produce bigger budget films which could also gain a market share in the USA. There is a deep irony that many of the French directors who made this turn were originally an important part of the nouvelle vague which had rebelled against this sort of cultural conservatism in the late 1950s and 1960s. Chabrol is a good example, making the literary adaptation Madame Bovary (1990). This type of film was also encouraged in the moves towards co-production. Condron argues, albeit in an exaggerated way, that this strategy was by no means always successful with Berri’s version of Germinal (1993) being one of the most expensive French films ever made yet falling flat at the box-office released in direct competition to Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993). Condron’s description of the film is a little misleading for Germinal became a film embroiled in the GATT treaty debates of 1993 and was a key element in the argument advanced by Mitterrand for ‘the cultural exception’ meaning that countries had a right indeed a duty to resist the unregulated free market and be able to produce, distribute and exhibit representations of themselves.

    Germinal a Case Study

    Cousins (1999) considers the term ‘heritage cinema’ disparagingly and makes the following comment upon Germinal:

    ...Germinal embodies many of the Genre’s defining characteristics: a French literary classic as source material; a conscientious, though unchallenging rendering of the narrative; a carefully researched authentic period recreation; high production values with an emphasis on spectacle, an inherent sense of Frenchness conveyed through national stars and French locations; an anodyne account of French social history with an emphasis on aesthetic values rather than political content.’ (Cousins, 1999: p 35).

    Cousins goes to reasonable lengths to compare Berri’s version with previous versions as well as the original Zola novel to show how the film has been produced as more of a consensus style of film moving away from Zola’s representations of an evil and polarising form of capitalism pervading the 19th century French coalfields. It is worth noting at this point that this argument is in slight contradiction to Cousins contention that ‘the heritage genre requires all but total submission to the literary source material, privileging author over film-maker especially where the writer enjoys canonical status’. Yet Berri argues that it was not a slavish adaptation and further more the subsequent critique by Cousins shows that to be the case noting that Zola was making a didactic case whilst Berri’s is merely mimetic, also arguing that Zola had a ‘multilayered account’ of conditions whilst Berri’s is ‘less resonant’. Cousins makes a convincing argument about this specific film however there is an important point to be made here that there is a danger of overworking the methodology of genre. Clearly Berri was not that strongly bound by the original text and makes a film which is less sharp edged about social polarisations at a time when Northern France including the coal mines have seen a process of de-industrialisation. Berri’s need to keep important financial backers on board may have compromised the film politically for it was at that time the most expensive French film ever made, upping the ante over Les Amants de Pont Neuf. As a film relaying concerns of national identity its significance is highlighted by the fact that Jack Lang sent free videos to all schools.

          Whilst Condron has argued that the film didn’t do well compared with Jurassic Park in fact it made its production money back in just seven weeks attracting over 5 million spectators. It had been something of a ‘quasi-national’ project with a special TGV carrying Mitterrand, Jack Lang , Jacques Delors and other high profile leaders to the premiere. Jurassic Park which it was symbolically set against nevertheless outstripped the audience for Germinal by the end of the year. Cousins argues: ‘ The reasons for the relative failure of Germinal to see off the Hollywood super-production may lie in the undemanding narrative conventions of the heritage genre with its attendant self-serving ideology.’ (Cousins, 1999: 28). This mono-causal argument seems more motivated and aimed as a critique of the despised heritage industry rather than a proper evaluation of the reception and types of audiences that were attending these respective films. It is a case of comaring apples and pears: Jurassic Park was about family entertainment and about the most impressive CGI special effects ever produced at that time. Many young people would have gone to see the film twice, which seems unlikely with Germinal, a film which was bound to have appeal to an older and more sophisticated audience. It seems reasonable to argue that the film was remarkably successful in terms of overall box-office. What indicators ‘success’ is measured by is a problem of method which needs to be more fully developed in cinema studies, rather than pure box office alone. If for example longevity, long-term financial returns, cultural acceptance educational use etc were taken into account rather than immediate box-office success then a more accurate assessment of how successful a film is can be made.

    What the criticism below highlights is the importance of placing a film within its cultural context of the time. Cousins is scathing about the quality of the film but notes how the context of the timing of its release not only epitomised Jack Lang’s policies of cultural renewal but became a tool of cultural politics as well. Whilst Cousins sees this as somewhat fortuitous the prevalent attitude of Hollywood in relation to its exports of films has been little changed at a strategic level since the 1920s. Given the levels of official backing the film received it might be better considered as being deliberately timed and designed to ‘coincide’ with GATT 1993. The position of Germinal was exceptional as it became catapulted into the limelight as it:

    ...had unintentionally crossed the boundaries of conformist domestic heritage cinema to enter the unmapped and dangerous domain if international cultural politics . In doing so Germinal became a political statement in itself and a rallying point for the embattled French film industry, thereby enjoying a critical attention which it scarcely merited either in terms of film-making or of the vacuity of its sanitised political content.’ (Cousins., 1998:p36)

    Another film from this official heritage stable which involved Berri was La Reine Margot (1994) directed by Patrice Chereau. Adapted from a novel by Dumas this high budget ‘historical’ costume melodrama despite winning a Grand Jury prize and a best actress award was little more than using the infamous St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre as a vehicle to follow the plotting and intrigues of a misogynistically portrayed Catherine de Medici salaciously spiced with implications of incest. It can be seen as a film which was retrogressive in relation to the sentiments of the new historicism of the 1970s and early 1980s. However it has been argued by its star Isabelle Adjani, as well as by Chereau, that the film was a reflection on the Bosnian war <!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[2]<!--[endif]-->. Some critics linked the film to the ‘new violence’ wallowed in by Tarantino, arguably preceded by Besson. Powrie reflects that the film could also have been about the last years of the Mitterrand regime and the political troubles of the moment.

    La Reine Margot

    Whilst some of these films have been commercially successful some French critics have seen this as a sign of stagnation which is not only culturally conservative but has cut off sources of funding for emergent directors. Greene (1999) places this film in the framework of a range of films that have ‘continued to reveal a transformed vision of the national past.’<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[3]<!--[endif]--> However what Greene describes as ‘the shock of the past’, in which bodies are piled up in the streets is more than balanced by the gruesomeness of the poisoning by arsenic and the sweating of the blood. These instances are less a ‘shock of the past’ than a cinema of ‘shock’, more an ‘auteurist’ trademark of Chereau if ‘Intimacy’ (2000) is a good example of his film-making. This shock empties out Greene’s impression of a ‘darkened vision of the national past’ instead promoting pure spectacle in a contemporary visit to the stock in trade genre of the heritage film.

    The Role of Co-production

           La Reine Margot was not only a co-production but managed to elicit money from the Eurimages fund. There has been an unfortunate tendency within European cultural funding to keep within a narrowly defined ‘heritage agenda’ whether this is about architecture or films. This amounts to a failure to come to terms with a wider vision of a future European culture, remaining anchored in a badly historicised past which has been unable to develop a notion of future based upon an examination of past mistakes. The treatment of the St. Bartholomew’s day massacre was a great disappointment as it failed to deal seriously with issues of difference in ways which might have been of relevance to today’s multi-faith and multicultural Europe.

           Recent French cinema post 2000 includes co-productions with Italy, such as Morretti’s The Son’s Room (2002). This follows a tradition of co-productions with Italy in the post-war period to help resist the influx of American imports. Morretti’s film explores the effects of grief which break up a previously happy family after the son’s accidental death. Given the power of psychoanalysis within the intellectual and critical tradition in France there are certain ironies that the father is a psychoanalyst. The wife and daughter externalise their grief whilst the father broods on his. Philip Kemp reads the film’s ending as one which ‘holds out the possibility of grief fading and lives repairing themselves’ <!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[4]<!--[endif]-->. Rather than the past being another country as suggested at the level of trauma a better understanding of psychoanalysis recognises that time can become frozen unless the talking cure of psychoanalysis can be taken. In that sense the film is about power control and masculinity.

           Bertrand Tavernier’s Laisser-passer (2002) is a very recent historical film with a difference and could be seen as a late addition to the ‘Vichy’ heritage type of film. Based on the experience of members of the industry with whom he has collaborated in the past on other projects Tavernier has made a film which through the film industry itself and its relationship to Nazi occupation deals with issues of what is collaboration, survival and resistance which in previous well known films dealing with the period has not been handled. Reader <!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[5]<!--[endif]--> notes that by dealing with very specific people who were criticised by the critics on Cahiers du Cinema as being stagnant and reactionary and involved with the derisively named Le Cinema de qualite. Reader considers that the film can be read as a defence of those earlier standards. Here the notion of standards needs to be considered as one incorporating ideological concerns not simply production standards and aesthetic considerations. The current Cahiers du Cinema didn’t treat the film kindly on its release, although many of those involved in the nouvelle vague had effectively taken up less modernist film-making by the 1980s. As a film dealing with the cultural history of French cinema it is also important and taken in the light of the 1970s historical films it appears to be dealing not only with ordinary people but opening up windows on a period of history which sits uncomfortably in the French cinema psyche as Malle’s Lacombe Lucien showed approximately 30 years.

    Heritage and the Struggle Over History

           The term heritage cinema seems overdue a revaluation for it can incorporate such a wide spectrum of films that its original formulation of being suspect of inherent conservatism is worthy of question. How far for example can the films of Visconti be described as ‘heritage’ cinema on the basis of this definition, yet films such la Terra Trema, The Leopard, Death in Venice which all conform to the heritage definition of canonical literary adaptations. In the case of The Leopard it entirely conforms to the argument that the spectacular is an important component of the genre and even utilises the Hollywood star system function as critiques of capitalism and modernity. Sally Potter’s Orlando from a classical literary text by Virginia Woolf that was radical in its time manages to also be radical.


    History itself has been problematised yet again in recent years and those films which constitute representations of the past do allow audiences to be engaged in a discourse of re-evaluation and re-visioning of the past. This is inevitably going to be a contested one and thus ‘heritage film’ could be construed as a healthy activity which is no more inherently conservative than it is radical. There is much work to do on cinema and its relationship to history which is a necessary part of developing cultural citizenship itself.

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    <!--[if !supportLists]-->1 <!--[endif]--><!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[1]<!--[endif]-->Condron, Anne Marie.1997, p 213.

    2 <!--[endif]--><!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[2]<!--[endif]-->Austin, Guy, 1996: p 168.

    3 <!--[endif]--><!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[3]<!--[endif]-->Greene, Naomi. 1999, p 23

    4<!--[endif]--><!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[4]<!--[endif]-->Kemp, Philip. ( 2002 ) Sight and Sound review March issue 3 p 56.

    5<!--[endif]--><!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[5]<!--[endif]-->Reader, Keith. ( 2002 ) Sight and Sound review November issue 11 p 50.

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    October 19, 2007

    Chronology of Important European Films

    A Chronology of Important European Films  1918 - 2003


    Introduction 

    This page is work in progress. Many links have been made to in site or external reviews or places where the film can be purchased; films post 2003 are now being  added. Gradually in site 'hubs' are being developed for specific national directors so that clicking on an entry will allow the visitor to access the hub where links to more specialist information on the directors will become available. This is currently a long process and will take many months. The development plan for this aspect of the site work is to open up director based pages which will provide links to the currently best available relevant web sites based upon a Google search  of normally up to page 20.

    Objective 

    The primary purpose of this entry is to allow visitors to start to make comparisons across national boundaries by gaining a more synoptic view of cinematic developments in parallel countries. This accords with the main cinematic purpose of the blog which is to contribute towards an understanding of European film history in the five major industrial countries of Europe since the end of the First World War.


    Many directors worked in a number of countries and, as in any other cultural industry, there are plenty of crossovers becuase cultural workers such as directors and cinematographers are often chosen for specific skills or want to work in a different country to gain a more cosmopolitan experience. Visconti, for example started working with Renoir in France before the Second World War, Emeric Pressburger worked in Berlin before choosing to escape Nazism and coming to Britain. Cavalcanti worked in France and then Britain was brought up in Switzerland and was of Brazilian origin. Truffaut worked with Rossellini briefly. This is of course the tip of the iceberg and signifies the importance of cross-cultural influences within the growth of European cinema. A tradition that carries on to this day.   


    Uses For This Page 

    This page should help a wide range of people who have an individual, academic or film programming interest in European cinema. First of all, my apologies to visitors who are disappointed because their country is not included in the list. I have chosen to focus on the five major industrial countries of Europe as my main area of research and development. All five are currently members of G8 the World's largest GDPs. Compared to the United States all these countries struggle to get a thriving independent film which has a large audience in its own country. This basic fact about issues of the cultural representation of a range of cultures is an important aspect of what can be termed cultural citizenship.

    The definition of cultural citizenship is one which argues that people from different places are able to represent themselves to the rest of world. Out of the Western European countries studied here only France has managed to maintain a very powerful indigenous film culture largely because of its film policies which necessarily extend into the sphere of exhibition and distribution.

    To develop more work on more European countries is beyond the scope of an individual blogger. This huge absence points the way to thinking about how to develop a much more powerful pan-European film culture which takes on board the need to develop audiences as well as exhibition, distribution and production systems. For those interested in current institutional initiatives please link here to the European Film Institutions page

    Hopefully this blog and page will contribute to this greater idea. For any interested visitors the page should contribute to gaining an overview of European cinema as it has developed since World War I. This date has been chosen as it was a turning point in World history marking the transition of global power from European Empires to the United States although of course it took many decades to complete the transfer.  

    The page should help those running film clubs and societies who are trying to work out their programming, it should also help students and those independently interested in European cinema to quickly develop ideas and themes which can then be followed up. 


    Underwritten Films and Directors 


    One reason for doing this undertaking was to discover which films / directors were underwritten on the web. Whilst most searches will turn up highly specialist articles in small academic journals which require users to be members of a subscribing university there are sometimes very few well informed and well written in depth articles about certain films and / or directors. As I gradually make my trawl  I will note here where there seem to be weak spots in web coverage. This might stimulate interest in the films and ensure that they still remain available.

    Taviani Brothers: For most of the films I have been searching so far there is relatively little quality in depth material to recommend. They have made a lot of powerful films in Italy and deserve more serious web recognition. 

    Francesco Rosi: This is another director who remains underwritten on the web. Again he has made a lot of important films about Italy frequently with a strong humanitarian / political edge. 

    Luchino Visconti: Regarding his 1976 film L'Innocente there is little of any use on a Google search at present. The link I have goes to a Google sample of Henry Bacon's book - this is highly recommnded by the way. The English entries via Google on Senso are generally weak despite the importance of the film as recognised by Nowell-Smith and Dyer.

    Rene Clair: Le Silence est d’or there is very little available in English on a Google search.

    Guiseppe de Santis: One important point to note is the fact that Bitter Rice has not been available in the UK for a considerable period of time. This is surprising to say the least because not only is it seen as an important film in the canon of Italian neorealism but it was also one of the most commercially successful of the neorealist canon. 




    The Chronology


    Year

    France

    Germany

    Italy

    Soviet Union / Russia

    United Kigndom

    1918

    Dulac: Le Bonheur des autres

    Gance: Ecce homo

    Gance: J’accuse

    L’Herbier: Phantasmes


    (Weimar Cinema  until the coming of Sound: An Overview)







    1919

    Dulac: La Cigarette

    Dulac: La fete espagnole

    Lang: The Spiders

    Lang: The Plague in Florence

    Lubitsch: Madame Dubarry

    Wiene: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari







    1920

    Dulac: La Belle dame sans merci

    Dulac: Malencontre

    Gance (-1922) La Roue

    Wegener: The Golem







    1921

    Dulac: La Morte du soleil

    Lang: Destiny

    Murnau: Nosferatu







    1922

    Dulac: Werther (Unfinished)

    L’Herbier; Don Juan et Faust

    Lang: Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler







    1923

    Clair: Paris qui dort

    Dulac: Gossette

    Dulac: La Souriante Mme Beudet

    Gance: Au secours

    Lang: The Nibelungen







    1924

    Dulac: La Diable dans la ville

    Renoir: La fille de l’eau

    Leni: Waxworks

    Murnau: The Last Laugh




    Eisenstein: Strike

    Protazanov: Aelita



    1925

    Clair: Le Fantome de Moulin Rouge

    Dulac: Ame d’artiste

    Dulac: La Folie des vaillants

    Gance (-1927): Napoleon vu par Abel Gance

    Gance(-1927) Autor de Napoleon

    Gance (-1928) Marine

    Lang: Metropolis

    Wiene: The Hands of Orlac



    Eisenstein: Battleship Potemkin

    Kuleshov: The Death Ray



    1926

    Clair: Le Voyage imaginaire

    Dulac: Antoinette Sabrier

    Gance (-1928) Danses


    Fank: The Holy Mountain

    Murnau: Faust

    Murnau: Tartuffe



    Kuleshov: By the Law

    Pudovkin: The Mother

    Vertov: A Sixth of the World

    Hitchcock: The Lodger

    1927

    Arrival of sound In USA

    Dulac: Le Cinema au service de l’histoire (Compilation)

    Dulac: Invitation au voyage

    (Online screening available) 

    Renoir: Charleston

    May: Asphalt

    Ruttman: Berlin Symphony of a City


    Eisenstein: October

    Pudovkin: The end of St. Petersburg

    Shub: The End of the Romanov Dynasty

    Shub: The Great Road


    1928

    Dulac: Germination d’un haricot

    Dulac: Le Coquille et le Clergyman

    (See under Invitation etc for online screening) 

    Dulac: La Princesses Mandane

    Gance: Cristallisation

    L’Herbier: L’Argent

    L’Herbier: Un Chapeau de paille d’Italie

    Renpoir: Marquetta

    Renoir: La petite marchande d’allumettes


    Lang: Der Spione

    Pabst: Pandora’s Box



    Pudovkin: Storm Over Asia

    Shub: The Russia of Nicholas II and Lev Tolstoy



    1929


    Bunuel: Un Chien d'Andalou & L'Age d'or

    Dulac: Etude cinegraphique sur une Aaabesgue

    Dulac: Disque 927

    Dulac: Themes et variations

    Renoir: Tire-au-flanc

    Renoir: Le bled

    Pabst: Diary of a Lost Girl

    Siodmak et al: People on Sunday



    Dovzhenko: Arsenal

    Eisenstein: Old and New or The General Line

    Kovinstev and Trauberg: The New Babylon

    Protazanov: Ranks and People

    Turin: Turksib

    Vertov: Man With a Movie Camera

    Asquith: A Cottage on Dartmoor

    Hitchcock: The Manxman (His last silent film) 

    Hitchcock: Blackmail

    1930

    Cocteau: Le sang d’unpoete

    Gance: La Fin du Monde

    Gance: Autour de La Fin du Monde

    Vigo: A Propos de Nice

    Von Sternberg: Blue Angel



    Dovzhenko: Earth



    1931

    Clair: Sous les toits de Paris

    Clair: Le Million

    L’Herbier: Le Parfum de la dame en noir

    Pagnol: Marius (Technically directed by Korda)

    Renoir : On purge bebe

    Renoir: La chienne

    Vigo: Taris

    Lang: M

    Pabst: The Threepenny Opera

    Sagan: Girls in Uniform



    Vertov: Enthusiasm



    1932

    Clair: Le Quatorze juillet

    Gance: Mater dolorosa

    Pagnol: Fanny (Technically directed by Allegret)

    Renoir : La nuit du carrefour

    Renoir: Boudu sauve des eaux

    Dudow: Kuhle Wampe

    Lang: Das Testament das Dr. Mabuse

    Riefensthal: The Blue Light



    Eisenstein: Que Viva Mexico!



    1933

    Pagnol: Le Gendre de Monsieur Poirier

    Pagnol: Jofroi

    Renoir: Chotard et cie

    Vigo: Zero de Conduite

    (Nazi Film Genres)



    Ophuls: Liebelei

    Steinhoff: Hitler youth Quex

    Zeisler: Viktor and Viktoria




    Kuleshov: Velikii uteshitel' (The Great Consoler)

    Korda: The Private Life of Henry VIII

    1934

    Gance: Poliche

    Gance (-1935) Napoleon Bonaparte

    L’Herbier : Le Scandale

    Pagnol: L’Article 330

    Pagnol: Angele

    Renoir: Madame Bovary

    Renoir: Toni

    Vigo: L'Atalante

    Trencker: The Prodigal Son (1933-34)


    Wegener: A Man Must go to Germany



    Vasiliev Bros: Chapayev

    Hitchcock: The Man who Knew Too Much

    1935

    Gance: Le Roman d’un jeune homme pauvre

    Gance: Jerome Perreaux, heroes de barricades

    Gance: Lucrece Borgia

    Pagnol: Merlusse

    Pagnol: Cigalon

    Renoir: Le crime de Monsieur Lange

    Renoir: Toni

    Riefenstahl: Triumph of the Will

    Blasetti: Old Guard

    Dovzhenko: Aerograd

    Kosintsev and Trauberg: The Youth of Max

    Cavalcanti: Coalface

    Hitchcock: The Thirty-Nine Steps

    1936

    Carne: Jenny

    Gance: Un Grand amour de Beethoven

    Renoir: Partie  de Campagne





    Dzigan: We From Kronstadt

    Eisenstein: Alexander Nevsky

    Hitchcock: Sabotage

    1937

    Carne: Drole de drames

    Gance: Le Voleur de femme

    Pagnol: Regain

    Renoir: La Grande Illusion



    Gallone: Scipio the African




    1938

    Carne: Hotel du Nord

    Carne: quai des brumes

    Gance: Louise

    Pagnol: La Femme du boulanger

    Renoir: La Marseillaise.

    Renoir: La bete humaine.

    Froelich: Heimat

    Reifenstahl: Olympia

    Alessandrini: Luciano Serra Pilota



    Asquith: Pygmalion

    Hitchcock: The Lady Vanishes

    Saville: South Riding

    1939

    Carne: Le Jour se leve

    Gance: Le Paradis perdu

    L’Herbier: La Brigade sauvage

    L’Herbier: Entente cordiale

    Renoir: La regle du jeu








    For contextual links  and more films see: British Cinema and Society: Chronology 1939–1951


    British Cinema of the Second World War


    Hitchcock: Jamaica Inn


    Korda: The Four Feathers

    Reed: The Stars Look Down

    Woods: They Drive by Night

    1940


    (French Cinema in the Second World War

    Gance (-41): La Venus aveugle

    Pagnol: La Fille du puisatier

    Harlan: Jew Suss

    Hippler: The Wandering Jew
    (on arrival go to p 147) 


    Mauder & Sessner :The Attack on Fort Eben-Ebel





    Hitchcock: Rebecca

    1941

    L’Herbier: Histoire de rire

    Liebeneiner: I Accuse

    Ruhman: Quax the Crash Pilot





    Powell and Pressburger: The 49th Parallel

    1942

    Carne: Les visiteurs du soir

    Becker: Dernier atout

    Gance (-1943): Le Capitaine Fracasse

    L’Herbier: La Comedie du bonheur

    L’Herbier: La Nuits fantastique



    De Sica: The Children are Watching Us

    Rossellini: L’uomo dalla Croce

    Visconti: Ossessione

    (Intro to Neorealism

    (Thinkquest site "by student team on Neorealism



    Cavalcanti: Went the Day Well?

    Howard: First of the Few

    Lean: In Which We Serve

    Powell and Pressburger: One of Our Aircraft is Missing

    1943

    Becker: Goupi main-rouges

    Bresson: Les anges du peche

    Carne (-1945) Les Enfants du paradis

    Clouzot: Le Corbeau

    Von Baky: Munchausen

    Rossellini (43-44) : Desiderio



    Arliss: The Man in Grey


    Powell and Pressburger: The Life & Death of Colonel Blimp


    Launder & Gilliat: Millions Like Us

    1944

    Gance: Manolette





    Eisenstein: Ivan the Terrible Part 1

    Batty: The Battle for Warsaw (UK / Poland)

    Asquith: Fanny by Gaslight

    Clayton: Naples is a Battlefield (Documentary)

    Lean: This Happy Breed

    Olivier: Henry V

    Powell and Pressburger ; A Canterbury Tale

    Gilliat: Waterloo Road (Spiv)

    Reed: The Way Ahead

    1945

    (French Cultural Policy After WWII

    Becker: Falbalas

    Bresson: Les Dames du Bois du Boulogne

    Carne:Les Enfants du Paradis

    Harlan: Kolberg (1943-45)

    Rossellini: Roma citta aperta

    Eisenstein: Ivan the TerriblePart 2

    Arliss: The Wicked Lady

    Boulting: Journey Together

    Crabtree: They Were Sisters

    Lean: Brief Encounter

    Powell & Pressburger: I Know Where I’m Going

    1946

    Carne: Les Portes de la nuit

    Cocteau: La Belle et La Bete

    L’Herbier: Au petit bonhuer

    Staudte: The Murderers are Among Us

    De Sica: Shoeshine

    Rossellini: Paisa


    Crichton: Hue and Cry (Ealing Comedy)

    Jennings: A Defeated People

    Lean: Great Expectations

    Powell & Pressburger: A Matter of Life and Death

    1947

    Clair: Le Silence est d’or

    Lamprecht: Somewhere in Berlin

    Rossellini: Germany Year Zero


    Boulting Bros: Brighton Rock (Spiv)

    Cavalcanti: They Made Me a Fugitive (Spiv)

    Hamer: It always Rains on a Sunday (Melodrama / Social Real)

    Powell and Pressburger: Black Narcissus

    1948

    Cocteau: L’Aigle a deux tetes

    Cocteau: Les Parentes terribles

    Renais: Van Gogh (Short)

    Tati: Jour de fete




    De Santis: Bitter Rice

    De Sica: Bicycle Thieves

    Visconti: La Terra Trema



    Asquith: The Winslow Boy

    Lean: Oliver Twist

    Powell & Pressburger:The Red Shoes

    Reed: Fallen Idol

    1949

    Becker: Rendez-vous de juillet

    Melville: Les enfants terribles

    Melville: Le Silence de la mer



    Rossellini: Strombli: Terra di Dio



    Reed: The Third Man

    Cornelius: Passport to Pimlico

    Hamer: Kind Hearts and Coronets

    Mackendrick: Whisky Galore

    1950

    Carne: La Marie du port

    Clair: La Beute du diable

    Cocteau: Corolian (Short)

    Cocteau: Orphee

    Genet: Un Chant d'amour

    Resnais: Gaugin (Short)

    Resnais: Guernica (Short)





    Antonioni: Cronaca di un amore

    De Sica: Miracle in Milan

    Fellini : Variety Lights

    Rossellini: Franscesco guillare di Dio



    Lee: The Wooden Horse

    Deardon: The Blue Lamp (Social Problem Films)

    Odette (Biopic / War)

    1951

    Bresson: Le Journal d’un cure de campagne

    Cocteau: La Villa Santo-sospir

    Staudte: The Subject (GDR banned FDR)

    De Sica: Umberto D

    Fellini: The White Sheik

    Visconti: Bellissima



    For contextual links and more films see: British Cinema and Society: Chronology 1951–1964


    Boulting: High Treason (Anti-Communist)

    Boulting: The Magic Box

    Crichton: The Lavender Hill Mob

    Mackendrick:The Man in a White Suit

    1952

    Becker: Casque d’or

    Pagnol: Manon des sources

    Tati: Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot



    Antonioni: I vinti


    Rosi:Camicie rosse (Red Shirts)


    Rossellini: Europa ‘51





    Asquith: The Importance of Being Earnest 

    Lean: The Sound Barrier

    Frend: The Cruel Sea (War)

    1953

    Carne: Therese Raquin

    Clouzot: Wages of Fear

    Gance: La 14 juillet 1953

    L’Herbier: Le Pere de madamoiselle


    Antonioni: La signora senza camelie

    Fellini: I vitelloni


    L. Anderson: O Dreamland (Social Real)

    Cornelius: Genevieve

    Crichton: The Titfield Thunderbolt (Comedy)

    Gilbert: The Cosh Boy (first Brit X Rated Film) 


    Reed: The Man Between (Anti-Communist)

    1954

    Becker: Touchez pas au grisbi

    Carne: L’Air de Paris

    Gance: La Tour du Nesle

    Varda: La Pointe courte

    Kautner: Ludwig II

    Kautner: The Last Bridge

    Fellini: La strada

    Rossellini: Viaggio in Italia

    Rossellini: Fear

    Visconti: Senso


    Hamilton: The Colditz Story (War)

    Asquith: The Young Lovers

    1955

    Clair: Les Grands Manoeuvres

    Clouzot: Les Diaboliques

    Dassin: Rififi

    Renais: Nuit et Brouillard (Short)


    Antonioni: Le amiche

    Fellini: Il bidone

    De Sica: Two Women


    Anderson: The Dambusters (War)

    Mackendrick: The Ladykillers (Comedy)

    1956

    Bresson: Un Condamne a mort s’est echappe

    Gance: Magirama

    Resnais: Toute la memoire du monde (Short)


    Fellini: Le notti di Cabiria

    Risi: Poor but Beautiful

    Chukrai: The 41st

    Romm, Mikhail: Murder on Dante Street

    Romm, Mikhail: Ordinary Facism

    Gilbert: Reach for the Sky (War)

    Together (1956) Lorenza Mazzetti

    (Free Cinema) 

    Momma don't Allow Karel Reisz  and Tony Richardson

    (Free Cinema) 

    1957

    Clair: Porte des lilas

    Malle: Lift to the Scaffold

    Melville: Bob le Flambeur

    Truffaut: Les Mistons (short)

    Resnais: Le Mystere de l’atelier (Short)

    Rivette: Le Coup du berger (Short)

    Reitz & Dorries: Schicksal einer Oper . (57-58)

    Antonioni: Il grido

    Visconti: White Nights

    Kalatozov: Cranes are Flying

    Boulting: Lucky Jim

    L. Anderson: Everyday Except Christmas (Free Cinema)

    Lean: Bridge on the River Kwai (War)

    1958

    Becker: Montparnasse 19

    Carne: Les Tricheurs

    Chabrol: Le Beau Serge

    Malle: Les Amants

    Resnais: Le Chant du styrene

    (Short)

    Tati: Mon Oncle




    Rosi: La sfida (The Challenge)

    Abuladze: Someone Else’s Chidren

    Gerasimov: And quiet lows the Don



    1959

    Bresson: Pickpocket

    Cocteau: Le Testament d’ Orphee

    Gance (-1960): Austerlitz

    Resnais: Hiroshima mon amour

    Truffaut: 400 Blows

    Reitz: Baumwolle (Doc)

    Rosi: I magliari (The Weavers)


    Rossellini: Generale Della Rovere

    Chukrai: Ballad of a Soldier

    (British New Wave)

    Boulting: I'm Alright Jack

    Boulting: Carlton-Browne of the FO


    Clayton: A Room at the Top

    Greville: Beat Girl 

    Hamer: School for Scoundrels

    Reed: Our Man In Havana

    Richardson: Look Back in Anger (Social Real)

    Reisz: We are the Lambeth Boys (Free Cinema)

    Thompson: Tiger Bay

    1960

    Becker: Le Trou

    Carne: Terrain vague

    Clement: Plein Soleil

    Godard: A Bout de souffle

    Godard: Le Petit soldat (released 1963)

    Rivette: Paris nous appartient

    Truffaut: Tirez sur le pianiste

    Lang: The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse

    Reitz: Krebsforschung I & ii. (doc short)

    Antonioni: L’avventura

    Fellini: La dolce vita

    Visconti: Rocco and His Brothers

    Tarkovsky:The Steamroller and the Violin

    Dearden: The League of Gentlemen

    Green: The Angry Silence


    Powell: Peeping Tom (Thriller/Horror)

    Reisz: Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Social Real)

    Gilbert Sink the Bismark (War)



    1961

    Clair: Tout l’or du monde

    Godard: Une Femme est une femme

    Truffaut: Jules et Jim

    Resnais: L’Annee derniere a Marienbad

    Varda: Cleo de 5 a 7

    Kluge: Rennen (Short)

    Reitz: Yucatan (Short)

    Antonioni: La notte

    Fellini: Boccaccio ’70 (episode)

    Pasolini: Accattone

    Rosi: Salvatore Giuliano

    Chukrai: Clear Skies

    Dearden: Victim (Social Real)

    Richardson: A Taste of Honey Social Real)



    1962

    Bresson: Le Proces de Jeanne D’arc

    Godard; Vivre sa vie

    Marker: La Jetee

    Melville:Le Doulos

    Oberhausen Manifesto: New German Cinema directors


    Kluge: Leher im Wandel (62-63) (short)

    Antonioni: L’eclisse

    Bertolucci: La commare secca

    Pasolini: Mama Roma

    Taviani Bros: A Man for Burning

    Visconti: The Leopard

    Tarkovsky: Ivan’s Childhood

    Lean: Lawrence of Arabia (War)

    Schlesinger:A Kind of Loving (Social Real)

    Dr. No (Spy)

    Forbes: The L-Shaped Room (Social Real)

    1963

    Godard: Le Mepris

    Franju: Judex/Nuits Rouge

    L’Herbier: Hommage a Debussy

    Resnais: Muriel



    Fellini: 8 1/2

    Taviani Bros: Outlaw of Matrimiony

    Rosi:Le mani sulla città (Hands Over the City



    Anderson: This Sporting Life

    Brooks: Lord of the Flies

    Losey: The Servant

    From Russia with Love (Spy)

    Schlesinger: Billy Liar (Social Real +)

    Richardson: Tom Jones (Literary Adaptation)

    1964

    Gance: Cyrano et d’Artagnan

    Godard: Bande a part

    Rouch / Godard / Rohmer et al.: Paris vu par



    Antonioni: il deserto rosso

    Bertolucci: Before the Revolution

    Pasolini: The Gospel According to St. Matthew

    Rosi:Il momento della verità (The Moment of Truth

    Visconti: Sandra

    Kosinstev: Hamlet



    Lester: A Hard Day’s Night (Swinging Sixties)

    1965

    Carne: Trois chambres a Manhattan

    Clair: Les Fetes galantes

    Gance (-1966): Marie Tudor

    Godard: Alphavile

    Godard: Pierrot le fou

    Kluge: Yesterday Girl (65-66

    Schlondorff: Der junge Torless (65-66)

    Bellocchio: Fists in the Pocket

    Fellini: Juliet of the Spirits

    Pontecorvo: The Battle For Algiers





    Boorman: Catch Us if you can (Swinging Sixties)

    Furie Sidney J: Ipcress File (Spy)

    Lester: The Knack (Swinging Sixties)

    Polanski: Repulsion (Horror)

    Ritt: The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (Spy)

    Scheslinger: Darling (Swinging 60s)


    Loach: Up the Junction

    1966

    Bresson: Au hazard Balthazar

    Godard: Deux ou trois choses que je sais d’elle

    Resnais: La Guerre est finie

    Reitz: Mahlzeiten (Mealtimes). (66-67)

    Pasolini: The Hawks and the Sparrows

    Tarkovsky (released 1971) Andrei Rublev

    Anderson (Michael): The Quiller Memorandum

    Antonioni: Blow Up (Swinging Sixties)

    Hamilton: Funeral in Berlin

    Narizzano: Georgy Girl


    Alfie

    Polanski: Cul de Sac

    Reisz: Morgan: a Suitable Case for Treatment

    Zinneman: A Man For All Seasons

    1967

    Bresson: Mouchette

    Gance: Valmy

    Godard: La Chinoise

    Godard: Week-End

    Pagnol: Le Cure de Cucugnan

    Resnais: Loin du Vietnam (Part of a collective work)

    Herzog: Signs of Life

    Kluge: Artists at the Top of the Big Top: Disoriented

    Pasolini: Oedipus Rex

    Taviani Bros: The Subversives

    Rosi: C'era una volta(Once Upon a Time)

    Visconti: The Outsider

    Askoldov: The Commissar

    Losey: Accident

    Loach: Poor Cow

    1968

    Carne: Les Jeunes Loups

    Renais: Je t’aime, je t’aime

    Rohmer: Ma nuit chez Maude

    Herzog: Fata Morgana (68-70)

    Syberberg: Scarabea

    Bertolucci: Partner

    Fellini: Histoires extraordinaires (Episode)

    Pasolini: Theorem

    Taviani Bros: The Magic Bird

    Taviani Bros: Under the Sign of Scorpio


    Anderson: If

    Lester: Petulia

    Reed: Oliver

    Richardson:Charge of the Light Brigade (Swinging Sixties)

    Donner: Here We go Round the Mulberry Bush

    1969

    Bresson: Une Femme douce

    Costa-Gravas: 'Z'


    Gance (-1971): Bonaparte et la Revolution

    Melville: L'armee des hombres

    Fassbinder: Love is Colder Than Death

    Herzog: Even Dwarfs Start Small (69-70)

    Kluge: The Big Mess (69-70)

    Sanders-Brahm: Angelika Urban, Verkauferin, verlobt (Doc)

    Wenders (69-70): Summer in the City

    Fellini: Fellini Satyricon

    Pasolini: Pigsty

    Pontecorvo: Qiemada

    Rossellini: Acts of the Apostles

    Visconti: The Damned



    Hamilton : Battle of Britain

    Attenborough: Oh what a Lovely War

    Loach: Kes


    The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

    1970

    Carne: La Force et la droit


    Melville: Le Circle Rouge

    Rohmer: Le Genou de Claire

    Fassbinder: The American Soldier

    Bertolucci: The Conformist

    Bertolucci: The Spider’s Strategem

    Fellini: I Clowns

    Pasolini: Medea

    Pasolini: The Decameron

    Rosi:Uomini contro

    Rossellini: Socrate

    Motyl: White Sun oft he Desert (Red Western)


    Roeg: Performance

    1971

    Bresson: Quatre nuits d’un reveur




    Losey: The Go-Between

    1972



    Fassbinder: The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

    Herzog: Aguirre: Wrath of God

    Sander: Does the Pill Liberate Women? (Doc).

    Syberberg: Ludwig: Requiem for a Virgin King

    Wenders: The Goalkeeper’s Fear of the Penalty

    Wenders: The Scarlet Letter

    Antonioni: China

    Fellini: Roma

    Rosi: Il caso MatteiThe Mattei Affair) (


    Visconti: Ludwig

    Tarkovsky: Solaris

    Kubrick: A Clockwork Orange

    1973



    Fassbinder: Fear Eats the Soul

    Sander: Male Bonding

    Wenders: Alice in the Cities

    Bertolucci: Last Tango in Paris

    Fellini: Amacord

    Moretti: La sconfitta

    Rosi: Lucky Luciano



    Roeg: Don’t Look Now

    Anderson: O Lucky Man

    1974

    Bresson: Lancelot du lac

    Renais: Stavisky

    Rivette: Celine and Julie Go Boating

    Fassbinder: Fox and His Friends

    Herzog: The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser

    Syberberg: Karl May


    Moretti: come parle,frate?

    Pasolini: Arabian Nights

    Taviani Bros: Alonsanfan

    Visconti: Conversation Piece

    Mikhalkov: At Home Among Strangers, A Stranger at Home



    1975



    Schlondorff & von Trotta: The Lost Honour of Katerina Blum

    Wenders: False Movement

    Wenders: Kings of hte Road

    Antonioni: The Passenger

    Pasolini: Salo

    Rossellini: The Messiah

    Mikhalkov: A Slave of Love

    Tarkovsky: Mirror

    Monty Python and the Holy Grail

    1976

    Carne: La Bible

    Renais: Providence

    Fassbinder: Chinese Roulette

    Fassbinder: Satan’s Brew

    Herzog: Heart of Glass

    Herzog: Stroszek ((76-77)

    Reitz: Stunde Null (Zero Hour)

    Sanders-Brahm: Shirin’s Wedding

    Syberberg: Our Hitler (76-77)

    Bertolucci: 1900

    Fellini: Il Casanova di Frederico Fellini


    Moretti: Io sono un autarchico

    Rosi: Cadaveri eccellentiIllustrious Corpses) (

    Visconti: L'Innocente (The Intruder)





    1977

    Bresson: Le Diable probablement

    Kluge: The Patriot (77-79)

    Schlondorff / Fassbinder / Kluge/ Reitz et al : Germany in Autumn

    Schlondorff: The Tin Drum. (1997098)

    Von Trotta: The Second Awakening of Christa Klages

    Wenders: The American Friend

    Taviani Bros: Padre, Padrone

    Mikhalkov: Unfinished Piece for a Mechanical Piano

    Jarman: Jubilee

    Winstanley

    1978



    Fassbinder: The Marriage of Maria Braun

    Herzog: Nosferatu

    Fellini: Prova d’orchestra

    Moretti: Ecce Bombo

    Olmi : Tree of Wooden Clogs

    Mikhakov: Five Evenings

    Harvey: Eagle’s Wing

    Parker: Midnight Express

    1979



    Schlondorff: The Tin Drum

    Schlondorff / Kluge / Aust von Eschwege : The Candidate. (79-80)

    Von Trotta: Sisters or the Balance of Happiness

    Bertolucci: La luna

    Fellini. Prova d'orchestra

    Rosi: Cristo si è fermato a EboliChrist Stopped at Eboli) (

    Taviani Bros: The Meadow

    Konchalovsky: Sibiriade

    Menshov: Moscow Does not Believe in Tears

    Mikhalkov: Several Days in the Life of I.I. Oblamov

    Tarkovsky: Stalker

    Monty Python’s Life of Brian

    1980

    Renais: Mon oncle d’Amerique

    Fassbinder: Lilli Marleen

    Herzog: Woyzeck

    Reitz: Heimat (80-84)

    Sander: The subjective Factor (80-81)

    Sanders-Brahm: Germany Pale Mother

    Antonioni: Il mistero di oberwald

    Fellini: City of Women



    Roeg: Bad Timing

    1981



    Fassbinder: Lola

    Fassbinder: Veronika Voss

    Syberberg: Parsifal (81-82)

    Von Trotta: The German Sisters

    Bertolucci: Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man

    Moretti: Sogni d'oro


    Rosi: Tre fratelliThree Brothers) (


    Taviani Bros: Night of the Shooting Stars

    Mikhalkov: Kinsfolk

    Reisz: The French Lieutenant’s Woman

    Hudson: Chariots of Fire

    (Start of Heritage Cinema?

    Gregory’s Girl

    1982



    Fassbinder: Querelle

    Schlondorff / Kluge / Engstfeld: War and Peace (82-83)

    Von Trotta: Friends and Husbands

    Wenders: The State of Things

    Antonioni: Identificazione di una donna



    Anderson (Lindsay): Britannia Hospital 


    Greenaway: The Draughtsman’s Contract

    1983

    Bresson: L’Argent

    Renais: La Vie est un roman

    Herzog: Fitzcarraldo

    Reitz & Kluge: Biermann -Film (short).

    Schlondorff: Swann in Love

    Von Trotta: Rosa Luxemburg


    Moretti: Bianca

    Mikhalkov: A Private Conversation

    Tarkovsky: Nostalgia

    Gilbert: Educating Rita

    Leigh: Meantime

    MacKenzie: The Honorary Consul

    Local Hero

    Potter: The Goldiggers

    Eyre: The Ploughman’s Lunch

    1984

    Renais: L’amour a mort

    Reitz: Heimat Part 1

    Syberberg: die Nacht (84-85)

    Rosi: Carmen


    Taviani Bros: Chaos



    Joffe: The Killing Fields

    1985

    Varda: Sans toi ni loi

    Lanzmann: Shoah

    Kluge: The Blind Director

    Sanders-Brahm: Old Love (Doc)

    Schlondorff: Death of a Salesman


    Moretti:La messa e finita



    Bernard: Letter to Brehznev

    Frears: My Beautiful Laundrette

    Lean: A Passage to India

    1986

    Barri: Jean de Florette

    Berri: Manon des sources

    Resnais: Melo

    Sanders-Brahm: Laputa





    Cox: Sid and Nancy


    Douglas:Comrades

    Ivory: Room With a View

    Jordan: Mona Lisa

    1987



    Herzog: Cobra Verde

    Kluge: Odds and Ends

    Wenders: Wings of Desire

    Olmi: Long Life to the Lady!

    Rosi: Cronaca di una morte annumciata (Chronicle of a Death Foretold)


    Taviani Bros: Good Morning Babilonia

    Mikhalkov: Dark Eyes

    Little Dorrit

    Ivory: Maurice

    Frears: Prick up Your Ears

    Wish You Were Here

    Robinson:Withnail & I

    1988



    Von Trotta: Three Sisters





    Greenaway: Drowning by Numbers

    Leigh: High Hopes

    Sammy and Rosie Get Laid

    1989



    Wenders: Notebook on Clothes and Cities

    Fellini: Intervista

    Moretti: Palombello rossa



    Greenaway: The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and Her Lover

    Julien: Looking for Langston

    1990



    Von Trotta: Return

    Fellini: La voce della luna

    Moretti: La cosa

    Rosi: Dimenticare Palermo (To Forget Palermo)

    Taviani Bros: The Sun also Shines at Night

    Mikhalkov: Autostop

    Leigh: Life is Sweet

    Minghella: Truly, Madly, Deeply

    1991

    Carax: Les amants du Pont-Neuf

    Jeunet & Caro: Delicatessen

    Pialat: Van Gogh

    Wenders: Until the End of the World



    Mikhalkov: Urga: Territory of Love

    Loach: Riff Raff

    1992




    Reitz: Heimat Part 2


    Rosi: Diario napoletano (Neapolitan Diary)



    Ivory:Room With a View

    Ivory: Howard’s End

    Neil Jordan : The Crying Game

    1993

    Kassovitz: Cafe au Lait / Blended


    Kieslowski:Three Colours: Blue

    Kieslowski: Three Colours White (Co-pro)


    Muller: The Wonderful Horrible life of Leni Riefenstahl


    Von Trotta: Il Lungo Silenzio

    Wenders: Far Away so Close


    Taviani Bros: Fiorile

    Mikhalkov: Anna 6-18

    Leigh: Naked

    Loach: Raining Stones

    Potter: Orlando

    1994

    Chereau, La Reine Margot


    Kieslowski: Three Colours Red (Co-pro)

    Von Trotta:die Frauen in der Rosenstrasse

    Von Trotta: The Promise

    Wenders: Arisha, the Bear and the Stone Ring


    Moretti: Caro diario

    Moretti: L'unico paese al mondo

    Mikhalkov: Burnt By the Sun

    Chada: Bhaji on the Beach

    Newall: Four Weddings and a Funeral

    1995

    Kassovitz: La Haine

    Mimouni: L’Appartement

    Wenders: Lisbon Story

    Antonioni ( +Wenders) : Beyond the Clouds



    Boyle: Shallow Grave

    Winterbottom: Butterfly Kiss

    1996


    Wenders: Lumiere de Berlin

    Moretti: Opening day of 'Close-Up'

    Rosi: La tregua (The Truce)

    Taviani Bros: Chosen Affinities


    Boyle: Trainspotting

    Herman:Brassed Off

    Lee: Sense and Sensibility

    Leigh: Secrets and Lies

    Minghella: The English Patient

    1997

    Kassovitz: Assassin (s)

    Wenders:Alfama

    Wenders: The End of Violence





    For contextual links and more films see: British Cinema and Society: Chronology 1997–2010




    Boyle: A Life Less Ordinary

    Madden:Mrs. Brown

    Potter: The Tango Lesson

    Prasad: My Son The Fanatic

    Ramsey: Kill the Day

    Winterbottom: Welcome to Sarajevo

    1998


    Von Trotta: Mit 50 Kussen Manner Anders

    Moretti: Aprile

    Taviani Bros: You Laugh

    Mikhalkov: The Barber of Siberia

    Kapur: Elizabeth

    Leigh: Career Girls

    Ritchie: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

    Sofley: Wings of a Dove

    1999



    Twyker: Run Lola Run

    Benigni : Life is Beautiful



    Jordan: The End of the Affair

    Leigh: Topsy Turvey  

    Michell: Notting Hill


    O'Donnell: East is East

    Ramsey:Ratcatcher

    Rozema: Mansfield Park

    2000

    Chabrol:Merci pour le Chocolat.

    Chereau: Intimacy

    Godard: Histoire (s) du cinema

    Haneke: Code Unknown(French co-pro) 


    Ozon: Water Drops on Burning Rocks




    Frazzi & Frazzi:The Sky is Falling




    Contemporary
    British Directors Hub Page


    Pawlikowski: The Last Resort

    2001

    Denis: Trouble Every Day

    Godard: Eloge de l’amour

    Haneke: The Piano Teacher

    Jeunet: Amelie

    Ozon: 8 Women

    Tavernier: Laissez-Passer

    Hirschbiegel: Das Experiment


    Moretti: The Son’s Room



    McGuire: Bridget Jone’s Diary


    Winterbottom: 24 Hour Party People

    Loach: The Navigators

    2002

    Breillat: Sex Is Comedy

    Philibert: Etre et avoir

    Dilthey: Das Verlangen (The Longing)




    Sokhurov: Russian Ark

    Chadha: Bend it Like Beckham

    Greengrass:Bloody Sunday



    Hüseyin: Anita and Me

    Mackenzie: Young Adam

    Leigh: All or Nothing

    Loach: Sweet Sixteen

    Ramsey: Morven Callar

    2003


    Rohmer: Triple Agent

    Becker: Goodbye Lenin!

    Reitz: Heimat Part 3


    Bellocchio: Good Morning Night



    Frears : Dirty Pretty Things

    Hodges: I'll Sleep When I'm Dead 

    2004
    Hirschbiegel:Downfall


    Leigh: Vera Drake

    Loach: Ae fond Kiss

    Gleenan: Yasmin

    Pawlikowski: My Summer of Love

    Potter: Yes

    2005

    Haneke: Caché


    Rothemund:Sophie Scholl

    Weingartner:The Edukators




    Dibb: Bullet Boy

    Frears: The Queen

    Mireilles: The      Constant Gardner

    Winterbottom: A Cock and Bull Story

    Wright (J): Pride and Prejudice

    2006
    von Donnersmarck:The Lives of Others


    Arnold: Red Road

    Loach: Wind That Shakes the Barley

    Meadows: This is  England

    Williams: London to Brighton

    Winterbottom: The Road to Guantanamo

    2007



    Broomfield: Ghosts

    Corbijn: Control

    Gavron: Brick Lane

    Kapur: Elizabeth the Golden Age  

    Loach: It's a Free World

    Winterbottom: A Mighty Heart

    Winterbottom: Genova

    Wright: Atonement


    2008 Assayas: Summer Hours




    Davies: Of Time and The City

    Herman: The Boy in Striped Pajamas

    Leigh: Happy-Go-Lucky

    Maybury: The Edge of Love

    Meadows: Somers Town






    October 07, 2007

    Claude Lanzman’s Shoah: Key Essays. A Review

    Libeskind The Jewish Museum Berlin

    Daniel Libeskind on his Berlin Jewish Museum project representing absence:

    The third aspect of this project was my interest in the names of those persons who were deported from Berlin during the fatal years of the Holocaust. I asked for and received from Bonn two very large volumes called the 'Gedenkbuch'. They are incredibly impressive because all they contain are names, just lists and lists of names, dates of birth, dates of deportation and presumed places where these people were murdered. I looked for the names of the Berliners and where they had died - in Riga, in the Lodz ghetto, in the concentration camps.



    Claude Lanzman’s Shoah: Key Essays.  Edited by Stuart Liebman, Oxford University Press: 2007

    liebmans_book_on_shoah.gif


    Shoah is available from Masters of Cinema @ Eureka Video



    Introduction


    The publication of this book this year is a timely one coming not long after the Eureka release of Shoah on DVD. There is increasing interest at an academic level in representations of the Holocaust (Shoah) / and the Nazi Concentration Camp & Death Camp systems as a whole. The latter is well represented by another book of essays edited by van der Knaap “Uncovering the Holocaust: The International Reception of Night and Fog" published by Wallflower Press in 2006 which will be reviewed in due course. Originally I was going to review them together but on reading them both I decided both deserve their own space particularly in the light of the argument of Shoah and the discourses surrounding it which make the case for highlighting the attempted eradication of European Jewry as an act which isn’t as yet taken fully into account by the majority of European countries. The argument of Shoah is that it is a crime which is on a scale which outweighs the other horrors committed by the Nazi precisely because of its specificity and the corresponding doubt which it which it created in relation to the future and nature of humanity itself. Lanzmann himself describes it as : ”Their extermination is a crime of a different nature, of a different quality; it is a nameless crime, which the Nazi assassins themselves dared not name, as if by doing so they would have made it impossible to enact. It was literally an unnameable crime.” (Lanzmann in Liebman, 2007p 28).

    This book of essays covers an interesting range of ideas, perspectives and reactions. These range from articles like Gertrude Koch’s which are highly academic to the experience of how the distribution of Shoah was arranged in the United States to ensure the widest possible audience in a country where Hollywood output and the corresponding cine-machine rules out the exhibition of 9 ½ hour films. Given the range of different discourses which have emerged directly from the film it is difficult to give a clear overview of the disparate ideas which cohere in the field of Shoah. The fact that they do so bears witness to the power and integrity of Shoah itself. Even defining exactly what the film is difficult because its approach certainly redefines the idea of what a documentary is, indeed it is sen by Lanzmann as a performance.

    I will therefore comment upon several of the essays which hopefully will attract the reader interest this book deserves and by inference encourage people to view the film itself for otherwise much of what is written remains largely meaningless. I have covered many of the points made by Stuart Leibman in his introduction in the first part of the expanded review of Shoah elsewhere on this blog. It is a powerful piece and is available in an abbreviated version with the Eureka DVD of Shoah. This book is thus an extension of the film and is the next place the viewer should go to deepen the viewing experience further.

    The book is split into three parts. The first deals with its inception through production and distribution. The second section is comprised of appreciations, close readings and celebrations. The final section is called ‘Controversies and Critiques’. I have chosen two essays out section 1 and one out od the other two sections. All are useful essays and also accessible to the lay reader in ways which more specific essays such as Gertrude Koch’s about aesthetics are not. I have decide to deal with the essay Closely Watched Trains by Marcel Ophuls who made the powerful documentary about The Sorrow and The Pity which was very controversial because it attacked the mythology which surrounded the Gaullist construction of resistance and in part dealt with the role of the Vichy in collaborating with Nazism in the Holocaust. An interview with Lanzmann himself by Chevrie and Le Roux working for Cahiers de Cinema comes next. Daniel Talbot’s article about the distribution of Shoah shows the importance of the power of distribution in the chain of cinema itself as well as providing a moving account of committed engagement to ensure that it was seen, against the odds. Finally I have chosen a very interesting essay on gender issues and Shoah written by Hirsch and Spitzer both professors at Columbia University.


    Closely Watched Trains: Marcel Ophuls


    shoah_3.jpg



    I simply had to read this essay early on partially because of the obvious link between Shoah and Different Trains by Steve Reich. Somehow it is the trains which come to symbolise the depth of organisation and also the depth of collusion in with the Holocaust. The eerie rhythm of the trains running on a parallel but unseen and unacknowledged timetable of eradication, an industrialised death machine feeding the Moloch which is presaged in Lang’s Metropolis is a sort of haunting embedded into the film. Here it is worth focusing on Lanzmann’s basic premise which he seeks to expose through his film.

    Whilst Siegfried Kracauer can be accused of being teleological in his analysis of German cinema representing the almost inevitable path of Germany’s fall into Nazism there are strong anti-Semitic strands which can be discerned within Weimar cinema itself such as Nosferatu. Certainly there was a powerful structure of anti-Semitic feeling in Germany itself. This upholds Lanzmann’s idea that the Holocaust was not an aberration. It relied on: firstly “the basic consensus of the German nation” (remember the massive resistance against forced of disabled euthanasia was partially successful); secondly, it “relied on the existence of an aggressively anti Semitic world: Poland, Hungary, Romania, the USSR not to mention others.” (Lanzmann p 31) [self-explanatory and historically accurate]; thirdly, it was also made possible because “nations washed their hands of the Jewish persecution”. Countries such as Britain neither stood up firmly enough for the Jews of Germany nor did they rush to the rescue Lanzmann cites Lord Moyne High Commissioner in Egypt referring to the possibility to take in 1 million Hungarian Jews “what am I to do with 1 million Jews” (p32).

    Ophuls puts his finger on the pulse of Lanzmann’s film instantaneously:

    How can the unspeakable horror, the memories of total evil and complete degradation that the survivors themselves feel cannot be communicated, be forced back into the collective awareness, into the conscience of mankind.” (Ophuls in Liebman p 77).

    Ophuls is very honest about his immediate reactions to being asked to watch Shoah. He states that he generally dislikes documentaries for reasons ranging from the hi-jacking of a popular art form ‘the movies’ into the service of a cause to the fact that he doesn’t trust the makers of these who often defend the form under the aura of a bourgeois respectability. However having experienced it he openly states that he considers “Shoah to be the greatest documentary about contemporary history ever made, bar none, and by far the greatest film I’ve ever seen about the Holocaust”.

    Ophuls focuses on the issue of whether the film can be deemed to be ‘anti-Polish’ a reaction from the Polish authorities at the time the film came out. As Ophuls points out Lanzmann expected to find non participating witnesses to the arrival of the trains, to the herding of Jews into gas chambers:

    That some of the farmers profess compassion while obviously contemplating every detail of the proceedings with barely concealed relish is not the director’s invention. “ (p 81)

    Ophuls also points out the toughness of Lanzmann’s exposure of the true underlying process. In response to the comments of a reviewer called Murat who at times thought Lanzmann a ‘benevolent torturer’ who he wanted to ‘reach out and slap’, Ophuls is scathing:

    If being a gentleman is a documentary filmmaker’s top priority he’d better get into some other line of work.” Lanzmann he notes attempts no charm or ingratiation of the audience. However as Ophuls points out correctly there is no ‘intimidated awe’ which is an approach with which people usually approach the Holocaust and is an approach which Lanzmann is entirely counterpoised to.

    Ophuls praise the subterfuge which Lanzmann at times resorts to when interviewing some executioners. Criminals are ‘outed’ why should one be critical of this? He asks rhetorically. A more effective justice system would have / should have dealt these people a far harsher hand.

    Ophuls tries to attenuate Lanzmann’s critique of the TV series ‘The Holocaust’ which was broadcast in the states. For Lanzmann it was rather pusillanimous to say the least. Effectively He ended up being on the same side as nationalistic Germans who were doing their best to stop it being broadcast in Germany at the time. Ophuls makes an interesting and important point when he comments the Edgar Reitz’s Heimat coming in at around 16 hours ‘was a deliberate effort to defend the memories of his childhood against the foreign invasion of Holocaust’. Then Ophuls has a swipe at several directors not renowned for their right-wing ideals. Fassbinder’s Lilli Marlene he describes as ‘neo-fascist indulgence’ and Pontecorvo’s (maker of the Battle of Algiers) Kapo he describes as ‘crass voyeurism’. I’ll bear those comments in mind when I get to see the latter. The former I can barely remember but it didn’t strike me as neo-fascist at the time.

    Finally Ophuls identifies with Lanzmann’s filming experience the moral catastrophe he has found in his filming in places like Latin America which is “murderous indifference”. With Lanzmann says Ophuls

    Beyond the urge to persuade, and even the need to testify, I suspect that a new state of mind has come to guide and sustain this magnificent achievement: not resignation but defiance! (p 87).



    Site & Speech: an interview with Claude Lanzmann by Cahiers du Cinema

    This interview opens with a prelude where Lanzmann declares that he wishes to talk about the film as a film. In the interview which takes place in 1984 he talks about a book which he will bring out on Shoah commenting that:

    Certain people…… are so overwhelmed by the horror that they develop a kind of sacred and religious attitude towards it and do not see the film itself. One has to understand why and how this horror is transmitted. (Liebman p 37)

    The interview proper starts with a straightforward question about how the project began in the first place. Lanzmann started out by reading a lot about the Holocaust as well as going through photo archives. He faced a fundamental problem when he needed to ask for money to make the film. The problem is the Catch 22 of making cinema and being reliant upon commercial production practices. Unsurprisingly he was always asked “what is your conception of the film”. Lanzmann comments that this was: … the most absurd question: I did not have any conception. Initially Lanzmann comments that he proceeded to collect theoretical knowledge he then started to find witnesses specifically “those who had been in the charnel houses of the extermination” (ibid p 38). It was when interviewing these witnesses that Lanzmann discovered:

    …an absolute gap between the bookish knowledge I had acquired and what these people told me. I understood nothing. (ibid p 38)

    This is already an effective underpinning of qualitative research methods and begins to highlight his unusual methods. At times they come close to a psychoanalytic method. Lanzmann discovered that a core problem for his film making was that the experiences the survivors had undergone were so extreme that they couldn’t communicate anything. Lanzmann discovered that a sense of place, a sort of geography of extermination, was required to start to make sense of the whole un-representable process. By visiting core sites of the extermination he discovered a sort of dialectic of cognition: one needed to know to see, and to see to know:

    If you go to Auschwitz without knowing anything about Auschwitz and the history of the camp, you will see nothing. In the same way, if you know without having been there, you will also not understand anything. (ibid p38).

    shoah_2.jpg



    Lanzmann clearly states that the film is about site, about topography and about geography. Because there was a process of effacement of sites like Treblinka the places were becoming sites of non-memory. Accordingly Lanzmann had models made of the gas chamber at Treblinka moving from the landscape to this model when he was shooting in order to imbue the film with a sense of power created through the act of connectivity.

    At this point in the interview Lanzmann is very scathing about the American TV series produced in the early 1980s called Holocaust which he accuses of being idealist. Here one is reminded of the concern voiced by Ophuls as discussed above.

    There are many ways to communicate and many different levels of communication. Like Ophuls I would argue that productions like Holocaust have their place especially in education because they can allow some critical space to open up for new audiences.

    Another comment made by the Cahiers interviewers was that the film was made “in the face of its own impossibility”. For Lanzmann the film was especially problematic to make because of the disappearance of the traces of the extermination and also because of the sheer impossibility of getting survivors to speak about it because of the un-nameability of the whole process of extermination.

    The Lack of Archival Images

    Contrary to some opinions the programme for the extermination of the Jews was not visually archived meticulously by the Nazis as Lanzmann points out the situation was quite the opposite. There is almost nothing:

    About the extermination strictly speaking there is nothing. For very simple reasons it was categorically forbidden… the problem of getting rid of the traces was therefore crucial in every respect. (p 40).

    At this point Lanzmann goes into some important aspects of film and documentary film making for even if there had been archival materials available he would not have used them:

    I don’t like the voiceover commenting on the images or photographs as if it were the voice of institutional knowledge that does not surge directly from what one sees; and one does not have the right to explain to the spectator what he must understand… That is why I decided from very early on that there would be no archival documents in the film” (My emphasis p 40).

    Here there is an important argument made for Lanzmann’s artistic method for instead of being set in the present the film “forces the imagination to work”. Lanzmann’s method became more akin to a sort of psychoanalytic method of reliving the traumatic experience so the one could speak it, where “speak” can sometimes mean body actions and non-verbal communications. For example, relating his experience with the barber when he placed the barber in a real barber’s shop with a real customer.

    And from this moment on, truth became incarnate, and as he relived the scene, his knowledge became carnal. It is a film about the incarnation of truth.” (p. 40).

    Framing and Mise en Scene

    shoah_6.jpg


    At this point the Cahiers interviewers discuss the issue of mise en scene and its inter-relationship with the methods so that form and method can be seen as entirely intertwined. The interviewers suggest that truth doesn’t emerge from archival images rather it emerges from a restaging of events and practices. Lanzmann explains how he rented the trains which became so symbolically powerful within the film. The boxcars at Treblinka station were actually the same ones that were used at the time. Here the underlying philosophy driving his method clearly emerges. By getting into the boxcars and filming:

    The distance between past and present was abolished, and everything became real for me. The real is opaque; it is the true configuration of the impossible.” (p. 42).

    It was only during the making of the film that Lanzmann became fully aware of the importance of site. When he initially visited Poland Lanzmann didn’t know what he wanted from the visit. He had arrived with the notion that Poland was a, “non-site of memory”, and that this history had been diasporized”. (p43)

    It was when Lanzmann was in Poland that he noticed that the Polish people who had been witnesses to much of the extermination began to speak of their experiences: I perceived that it was very alive in their conscious’s, that scars had not yet formed”. As a result Lanzmann set about filming these witnesses without telling them what he was going to be filming in advance. When he filmed one of the train conductors who had helped to transport the Jews Lanzmann put him into the cab of the railway engine he had rented and told him they were going to film the arrival at Treblinka. It was on arrival at Treblinka that:

    …he made this unbelievable gesture at his throat while looking at the imaginary boxcars (behind the locomotive of course there were no boxcars). Compared to this image archived photographs became unbearable. This image has become what is true. Subsequently when I filmed the peasants, they all made this gesture, which they said was a warning, but it was really a sadistic gesture.” (p 43)

    For Lanzmann this became a cinematic method which meant that Shoah became a film that was fictional but deeply “rooted in reality”. In this way it crosses the boundary between fact and fiction just as it crosses the temporal boundary between past and present. It was a method in which they had to act out “they had to give themselves over to it “. (p. 44). It was through this method that speech communications thus came to carry an extra charge going beyond the talking heads approach of more conventional documentary making. The film thus becomes a “reliving of history in the present”(p. 45)

    Some Polish Witnesses

    Some Polish witnesses. 




    The Distribution of Shoah in the USA

    I found the chapter on distribution and exhibition of Shoah in the independent sector particularly interesting. Even though films by their nature are slightly less ‘prisoners of measured time’ than TV, there are clearly defined norms beyond which distributors and exhibitors will not go. Both arms of the industry are concerned with reducing risk as much as possible. In this type of climate being an art form comes a poor second. Great films of the past have suffered at the hands of industry manipulation such as Lang’s Metropolis and Visconti’s The Leopard. What would happen then to a nine & a half film made with no stars and by a little known director? Shoah can hardly be said to be a genre which has mass audience appeal either. Daniel Talbot’s methods were inventive and original and had everything with the film being so successful in the USA.

    Daniel Talbot became responsible for distributing Shoah in the USA nevertheless he made a success of the task and became so convinced by the film that about six months after opening Shoah he thought about abandoning film distribution altogether : …for everything after this film would be anti-climactic, trivial, depressingly boring. (p 53).

    Talbot and his wife went to Paris to view the film with a proven record of successful distribution of European ‘Art House’ movies in the USA. They immediately signed a deal and ordered one 35mm subtitled print. These prints were of course very expensive at around $15,000 each a lot back in the early 1980s. Talbot needed to connect intimately with his target audience which was the American Jewish population. Initially he screened the film for Lucjan Dobroszycki an important New York archivist who had published a book on the Lodz Ghetto 1941-1944 the previous year. Having made an impact this started a word of mouth chain and several screenings were held at the Gulf + Western facilities for important members of New York’s Jewish community.

    Talbot had taken over a small cinema in 1976 splitting into 300 seat and 185 seat theatres which had built up a regular clientele of more arts oriented New Yorkers. Talbot opened the film and Lanzmann came over to speak. It had enormous critical success with the exception of Pauline Kael. The film ran for six months playing to an older audience than usual. As a result of this initial success Talbot generated a lot of interest and started to publicise it more widely and launch specific marketing initiatives. He invested in another 6 prints reinvesting the proceeds of the six month run.

    Of course he still needed to develop a different distribution strategy which didn’t follow the normal pattern of NY followed by LA and then other large regional cities. With only six prints available Talbot chose to target the cities with large Jewish populations. He was also faced with the problem of not being able to afford long runs because of the wear and tear on the print and the enormous expense of replacing them. Talbot thus pursed a strategy of offsetting risk onto the exhibitor. Exhibitors were carefully chosen on the strength of them being able to attract a strong Jewish audience. The exhibitors also only had two weeks in which to make a profit and the film was sold to them at a high $20,000 flat rate. In return Talbot allowed them to raise money from the films for local Jewish charities. Lanzmann again came over to speak about the film visiting many American cities. Overall the film played in over 100 cities.

    This huge success for a film which seemed unmarketable led to a campaign to get the film onto the PBS TV Network This required them to raise $1.5 million. Fortunately they were supported by many very wealthy backers which allowed them to meet the target. As a result over 10 million saw the film on TV. Hitler’s attempts to erase the Jewish people from history were thus entirely defeated.

    Gendered Translations


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    Hirsch and Spitzer make a very useful critical contribution to the discourses surrounding the film and by doing so very firmly put issues of gender very firmly on the map of the Holocaust. They start from a position which notes how myriad reports of the Holocaust have managed to de-gendered the history. The dehumanising language of the perpetrators usually talks not of bodies but of “figures and junk”. Descriptions of the transportation of Jews across Europe resorts to clichés about being packed like Sardines, after being murdered they are laid out in mass graves ‘like herrings’. Jews become a ‘load’ in the train wagons. Whilst this use of language is dehumanising it also strips out all reference to difference. Hirsch and Spitzer thus comment:

    “Ironically Lanzmann’s film itself also eradicates gender differences among the victims of the “Final Solution”’. (P 176).

    In the film the experience of the Jewish women is represented by others and women survivors only appear fleetingly. Perhaps surprisingly there are a number of witnesses amongst the Polish and Germans interviewed who are women:

    But among the Jewish survivors who speak and give their account in the film, the erasure of difference and particularly, the almost complete absence of women are striking”. (P 177).

    They comment that for Lanzmann that gender is irrelevant to the death machine which is designed specifically to de-gender, declass and dehumanise and then destroy the traces.

    Lanzmann therefore backgrounds the subjective experience of the victims. Yet they note that in other accounts of the Holocaust significant gender differences do emerge where:

    … women speak of the effects of ceasing to menstruate and the fear that their fertility would never return, they speak of rape, sexual humiliation, sexual exchange, abuse, enforced abortions and the necessity of killing their own and other women’s babies.(P 177).

    For Hirsch and Spitzer it is clear that the extermination selection process meant that maternity was a greater liability than paternity so they argue that the focus and method used by Lanzmann does enact an erasure of women ‘however’, they comment, “…traces of gender difference are nonetheless re-inscribed in his film.” They took as their task in this article to job differences making the gendered translation described by the title of the article.

    Most of the women such as Paula Biren disappear after a brief interview unlike the male survivors. Only one women ain the film goes through Lanzmann’s methods of “reliving” of “experiencing in the present”. This was Inge Deutschkron who returns to Berlin. “Women are thus relegated to the background in roles of “hiding, passivity, lament, invisibility” (p 180).

    At this stage Hirsch and Spitzer point out that Shoah’s equalisation of difference “extends to the realm of morality as well.” Here we are dealing with what Primo Levi described as a ‘moral grey zone’. This can be applied to those Jews who survived because they became Kapos and participated in work details. Lanzmann avoids dealing with the implications of this participation. Although differences in testimony appear, differences in experiences are downplayed.

    The highly gendered approach which has been identified in Lanzmann’s work perhaps reflects the gendered nature of Judaism itself. Hirsch and Spitzer comment on the reports in the film about Jewish leaders during the Holocaust Freddy Hirsch and Czerniziow who by committing suicide:

    “…act out the masculine response to the realisation that there is no future left.”

    This is a privileging of a male perspective within the film. By comparison Shoah only deals very briefly with the suicide of female suicide, yet the women’s suicides seem less self-centred than the men’s:

    “For these women death is an act of final resistance: escape for themselves and their offspring from prolonged suffering at the hands of their oppressors.” (P 184).

    Hirsch & Spitzer then proceed to argue that in Shoah the double position which women have in societies observed in a cross-cultural way - citing the anthropologist Maurice Bloch- has been reduced. This double position is one of representing both death and generativity:

    “The feminine connection to generativity, is eradicated, which seems to make the first connection to destruction doubly terrifying. Within the context of the film women come to represent death without regeneration.” (p 184).

    This insight leads them to re-examine events in terms of the Greek myth of Orpheus. On this reading Shoah is composed of a ‘bearing witness’ from inside hell or Hades in a way which is redolent of Orpheus. In the myth he has a hauntingly beautiful voice and he also leaves a woman behind. To develop this insight they turn to the work of Klaus Theweleit which examines Orphic creation as a form of false creativity. Thus the creativity of the Jewish survivors creating a range of institutions is an artificial ‘birth’. In the Orpheus myth women play the role of ‘media’ the intermediaries acting as voices and translators not as primary creators or witnesses. They argue that in Shoah it is Lanzmann and his male participants who give birth to a story which never should have been heard:

    In a modern manifestation of Orphic creation, together with these “Orphic” male survivors of the journey to Hell, Lanzmann circumvents women and mothers and initiates and new form of transmission for modern Jewish history”. (p 186).





    A Mediating Daughter


    The daughter of a survivor mediated so that her father would speak the unspeakable.






    By relying on the women in Shoah who can virtually not be seen the process of inquiry – the methods – become a gendered translation – of events. Women in Shoah remain, “ … shadowy intermediary voices between language and silence, between what is articulated and what must remain unspeakable.” (p 186).

    Hirsch and Spitzer also make another link to mythic structure of Shoah in relation to Medusa who:

    “calls into question the very act of looking: to look is to be possessed, to lose oneself, to find oneself pulled into the absolute alterity of death. In that sense Medusa is the figure most endangering for cinema, especially for the cinematic evocation and representation of death.” (p 187)

    They note that Lanzmann insists that his film is a performance not a documentary but “women are left out of these remarkable performances.” They conclude correctly that Lanzmann’s film has succeeded in bearing witness to the – event –without – witness, but that it erases the difference between past and present and that it has the mythic and artistic force of Orphic creation whilst revealing the politics of this mythology ‘by replicating the sacrifice of Eurydice and the slaying of Medusa”.

    Conclusion


    It has been the intention of this review to tackle a few of the contributions in depth rather than skim briefly over many. Those who are interested will I’m sure be prepared to persevere with the other essays for the book as a whole is full of fascinating and frequently poignant comments. The introductory essay by Liebman is very good and raises many interesting questions about the role of memory within history itself, a question which is outside of the scope of the review. For those interested in the cinema of the Holocaust and also those interested in documentary film making methods this book is a must.



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