French and Italian | Contemporary France: Film & Culture
F311 | 13227 | Bryson, Devin


Topic: Bodies in Film.  In the darkness of the movie theater, cinema
conjures up a fantastical illusion that envelops its audience. Yet,
as we lose ourselves in cinema’s reveries, we often forget the
physicality of the medium. What would narrative cinema be if not for
the actors who embody the stories on screen, the technical artists
who wrangle with the equipment, and the viewers who sensually
experience those visual stories? Perhaps due to the hidden
physicality of cinema, many films consider various bodies, their
social construction, and their erotic, violent, or quotidian
encounters with other bodies.

Contemporary French cinema has shown a particular fascination with
the body. In this course we will form a portrait of contemporary
France and its cinematic history, movements, practices, and theory
by examining representations of the body in French films since 1950.
We will consider social issues in which corporeality plays a crucial
role – such as immigration, gender relations, sexual identity,
colonialism, war, and social protest. We will also look at critical
concerns in cinematic analysis that focus on the body – such as the
gendered viewer and object, systems of visual pleasure, and minority
cinema. Along with viewing the films, we will also read key
theoretical texts in order to become familiar with the rich history
of French film criticism, as well as documents that provide us with
the historical and cultural contexts in France in which the films
are created. Class discussion will be in English, the films will be
shown with English subtitles, and students may write their papers in
either English or French.

Films

Robert Bresson – Un condamné à mort s’est échappé (1956)
Alain Resnais – Hiroshima mon amour (1959)
François Truffaut – Jules et Jim (1962)
Jean-Luc Godard – Pierrot le fou (1965)
Jacques Tati – Playtime (1967)
Luis Buñuel – Cet objet obscur du désir (1977)
Agnès Varda – Sans toit ni loi (1985)
Claire Denis – Beau travail (1999)
Marina de Van – Dans ma peau (2002)
Bernardo Bertolucci – The Dreamers/Les Innocents (2003)
Catherine Breillat – Anatomie de l’enfer (2004)
Jean-Pierre Jeunet – Un long dimanche de fiançailles (2004)
Ousmane Sembène – Moolaadé (2004)
Michael Haneke – Caché (2005)