Landscapes of Loss: The National Past in Postwar French Cinema

Princeton University Press
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In Landscapes of Loss, Naomi Greene makes new sense of the rich variety of postwar French films by exploring the obsession with the national past that has characterized French cinema since the late 1960s. Observing that the sense of grandeur and destiny that once shaped French identity has eroded under the weight of recent history, Greene examines the ways in which French cinema has represented traumatic and defining moments of the nation's past: the political battles of the 1930s, the Vichy era, decolonization, the collapse of ideologies. Drawing upon a broad spectrum of films and directors, she shows how postwar films have reflected contemporary concerns even as they have created images and myths that have helped determine the contours of French memory.

This study of the intricate links between French history, memory, and cinema begins by examining the long shadow cast by the Vichy past: the repressed memories and smothered unease that characterize the cinema of Alain Resnais are seen as a kind of prelude to a fierce battle for national memory that marked so-called rétro films of the 1970s and 1980s. The shifting political and historical perspectives toward the nation's more distant past, which also emerged in these years, are explored in the light of the films of one of France's leading directors, Bertrand Tavernier. Finally, the mood of nostalgia and melancholy that appears to haunt contemporary France is analyzed in the context of films about the nation's imperial past as well as those that hark back to a "golden age," a remembered paradis perdu, of French cinema itself.

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About the author

Naomi Greene is Professor Emeritus of French and Film Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of Pier Paolo Pasolini: Cinema as Heresy (Princeton) and Antonin Artaud: Poet without Words (Simon & Schuster) and is the translator of Marc Ferro's Cinema and History (Wayne State University Press).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Mar 29, 1999
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9781400823048
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Language
English
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Genres
Performing Arts / Film / History & Criticism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The major Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini was also a poet, novelist, essayist, and iconoclastic political commentator. Naomi Greene reveals to English-speaking readers the diverse talents that made him one of the most controversial European intellectuals of the postwar era, at the center of political and cultural debates still vital to our time. Greene presents Pasolini's films to the English-speaking world in full detail and in a rich critical context, using them to trace the evolution of his ideas and the details of his troubled personal life from 1950, when he settled in Rome, to 1975, the year of his brutal murder, apparently at the hands of a young male prostitute. "In her concise and sympathetic book, Greene intelligently explicates the political and social context within which Pasolini became both a leading figure and a significant heretic. He was an atheist who directed one of the few genuinely profound biblical films in the cinema, a communist who severely criticized many of the radical movements of modern Italy. Though he publicly acknowledged his homosexuality, he privately referred to it as his "sickness." As the book well documents, Pasolini was not a rebel but rather an authentic heretic who worked in contradiction to both his medium and milieu."--Choice

Originally published in 1990.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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