La transparence de nos eaux claires (FICTION) (French Edition)

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This place is inaugurated on February 20th in the heart of the Institut Curie day hospital in Paris. Le Salaire de la peur sustains for more than two and a half hours the suspense of its tale of European expatriates driving lorryloads of nitroglycerine over treacherous Central American roads to quench an oil-rig fire. Yves Montand, first drawn to public attention in Carne's Les Portes de la nuit 1 , gives one of the defining performances of his career here. Most frightening of all his works perhaps is Les Diaboliques , with Simone Signoret in one of her best-known roles.

The 18 History film's sadistic martyrisation of the character played by Vera Clouzot the director's wife becomes even more chilling when we know that she suffered in real life from a weak heart that was not long afterwards to kill her. The film's ending clearly inspired that, more than 30 years later, of Adrian Lyne's Fatal Attraction, but in its manipulation of actors and audience alike is surely closer to Hitchcock - a major influence on the New Wave, present here too in what it would be quite unjust to dismiss as cinema de papa.

Rene Clement is the other directorial name most often associated with the cinema of this period. Jeux interdits tells of the impact of the war on two young children who create an animals' cemetery before being roughly separated from each other. The film's view of childhood, while less barbed than that of Vigo, is nevertheless a determinedly unidealised one, a very long way from the Hollywood of the time.

Clement's other major work of the period took the form of literary adaptations, from Zola Gervaise of or Marguerite Duras Barrage contre le pacifique of Carne proved unable to sustain his pre-war popularity after the Liberation. Les Pontes de la nuit was severely criticised as dejd vu, the doom-laden Prevert script and heavy fatalism with which it is imbued not suiting the more upbeat expectations of the post-Liberation era.

Thenceforth his career tailed off sadly, the Zola adaptation Therese Raquin being his most successful later film, thanks largely to Simone Signoret's vampish performance in the title role. Becker produced at once his most lyrical and his most doom-laden film with Casque d'or, a reconstruction of the nine- teenth-century Parisian underworld, as well as such realistically observed dramas as Rue de VEstrapade , a forerunner of the New Wave.

Signoret gives what is probably the performance of her life, and Serge Reggiani as her doomed young lover exudes tragic intensity. Becker went on to give Jean Gabin one of his great post-war roles as the portly gangster yearning for retirement in the serie noire Touchez pas au grisbi This director's reputation is less by some way than it deserves to be, for he died prematurely in , just before the release of the prison escape drama Le Trou, which remains among the finest French films of its period.

Industrially and aesthetically alike, the 'Fourth Republic years' were, it is now beginning to be recognised, richer and more complex than might at first appear. Yet - with the handful of exceptions already mentioned - it lacked the innovative verve of earlier and later periods. It was a time of reconstruction and consolidation for the industry, which for most of the period succeeded in attracting more specta- tors to French than to American films.

The seeds of innovation were being sown elsewhere, in the pages of the new cinematic journals that appeared during and after the war. L'Ecran francais began clandestinely in and lasted ten years, 19 French Cinema: A Student's Guide during which it brought to the fore notions of the cinema as a vehicle for ideologi- cal engagement and as a language in its own right. Alexandre Astruc's 'Naissance d'une nouvelle avant-garde' 'Birth of a new avant-garde' inaugurated a mode of writing on the cinema which the journals Positif and Cahiers du cinema were to continue into the s.

It is in a sense provocative to bracket those names together for, in their earlier days at least, the two journals cordially detested each other. Positif was sympathetic to Surrealism and to the French Communist Party, while among the major influences on Cahiers was the existentialist Catholicism of Andre Bazin. Haifa century on, both journals still exist and thrive, albeit with much ideological passion spent. If Cahiers remains to non-French audiences at least much the better known, this is because so many of those who wrote for it went on to direct films in their own right.

Chabrol, Godard, Rivette, Rohmer, Truffaut - the patron saints of the New Wave - all began as Cahiers critics in what remains the most striking mass migration from writing- about to writing-in film history has to offer. Their interest in low-budget American cinema led them to pursue with zeal the politique des auteurs - a pantheonisation of figures such as Howard Hawks and Samuel Fuller, whose individuality in making 'their' films in the teeth of studio-imposed constraints was lauded in a sometimes extravagant manner. Positif 's favourite sons, such as Otto Preminger and Raoul Walsh, have lasted somewhat less well by comparison.

It exemplifies a tendency in French cultural life - illustrated at very much the same time by the work of such 'new novelists' as Alain Robbe-Grillet and Nathalie Sarraute - for critical and theoretical reflection to stimulate and feed through into artistic pro- duction. It illustrates the importance of political loyalties, or their absence, already marked in the cinema of the Popular Front era, in informing aesthetic and cultural debate. For reasons we shall now explore, was the year in which all these trends converged to inaugurate what was rapidly recognised as a new era for the French cinema.

The major intellectual and personal influence on them was the critic Andre Bazin, a passionate advocate of 'realism, mise-en-scene, and deep focus which he saw in opposition to montage ' Monaco, 6 , and of the politique des auteurs. European art-house directors, such as Renoir or Rossellini, had traditionally been treated as the 'authors' of their films, in much the same way as Balzac or Baudelaire were of the literary texts they signed. The American low-budget cinema, on the other hand, tended to be thought of as a commercial and studio-based product, to which Godard pays homage in his dedication of A bout de souffle to Monogram Pictures.

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Cahiers' innovation was to treat film-makers such as Hawks or Fuller as the authors of their films in much the same way as their more 'respectable' European counterparts. The New Wave directors, like their Hollywood predecessors, worked individually and creatively within often severe budgetary constraints and the conventions of studio genre. Their films were frequendy self-referential Godard making a brief Hitchcock-like appearance in his own A bout de souffle, Truffaut's Les Coups containing an obvious visual quotation from Vigo's Zero de conduite , as though to assert the value of film as a form of artistic expression on a par with the novel or the theatre.

Allusions to art cinema and Hollywood action film sat side by side in a manner that, nowadays, with the erosion of the barrier between 'high' and 'popular' culture, seems unremarkable, but was extremely innovative at the time. The literary adaptation and the costly studio set-up were anathema to these film- makers, whose use of hand-held cameras and location filming gave their work a constant charge of the unexpected. They were also greatly helped by the introduc- tion, in , of the avance sur recettes, a system of government loans, granted on the basis of a working script, to enable films to be produced.

One in five French films benefits from this funding, though only one in ten of these has been sufficiently successful at the box office to pay off the loan in full Hayward, The system thus effectively works as a source of subsidy, another reason for the often- remarked thriving independent and experimental sector known as art et essai of the French industry. The influence of Hitchcock is marked in the exchange of roles between the central characters in both films played by Gerard Blain and Jean-Claude Brialy , the latter of whom represents Parisian would-be sophistication against the provincial benightedness of the other.

Chabrol has had a wildly uneven career, often filming neither wisely nor too well, but at his best he is the master denouncer of the hypocrisy and pretentions of the bour- geoisie. Misanthropy and misogyny are other components of his work and both are 21 French Cinema: A Student's Guide plain in Les Bonnes Femmes , about the varying fortunes and ambitions of four young women who work in an electrical shop, an emblem of the modernisation of French society. Les Biches features a bisexual love triangle in Saint-Tropez, probably the first major French film to deal overtly with lesbianism, albeit in a manner that changes in sexual politics have caused to appear dubious.

The year - annus mirabilis of post-war cinema - also saw the feature debuts of Truffaut and Godard. The former's Les Coups remains among the cinema's most touching evocations of a less-then-happy childhood, modelled in many ways on Truffaut's own. This earned an unprecedented standing innovation at the Cannes festival, from which Truffaut had a few years before been banned, and the all-but-envious homage of Renoir. The homoerotic intensity of the relationship between Jules and Jim, mediated it would be possible to argue through their shared passion for Catherine, now gives the film a strikingly modern feel.

The theme of tragic or impossible love, and its close linkage with death, recurs in more conventional format with La Peau douce , generally regarded as Truffaut's most Chabrolesque work. Le Mepris gives Brigitte Bardot her major serious dramatic role, and stages an eloquent enactment of the contradictory pressures on the film-maker to make money and produce significant art. Much of Godard's work during this decade displays an unnerving prescience.

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Bande apart alludes to the genoci- dal conflict in Rwanda 30 years before it came to widespread attention. Masculin feminin pre-echoes the debates about gender and sex roles that were to achieve such importance in succeeding decades. Pierrot lefou suggests much of what was to follow in Godard's subsequent work, with its strikingly poetic use of colour, its use of mockingly didactic, quasi-Brechtian tableaux and its references to the Vietnam War. Rohmer's work remains, certainly in French and probably in world cinema, unique in that he has never lost money on a film in a year career.

His low-budget approach, reliance on highly crafted dialogue and fondness for ironic philosophis- ing make a 'Rohmer film' instantly recognisable, and in these respects he can, even by those not uniformly enthusiastic about his work, be seen as the supreme auteur. Le Signe du lion is his most savage work, about an over-trusting bohemian's destitute summer in Paris. His work for the remainder of this period took the form of short films, often made for television, a further illustration of the economic awareness that informs his work.

Rivette's love for lengthy, intricate narratives was apparent from his first feature, Paris nous appartient 1 , and has caused him to have a rather chequered career. La Religieuse , his only other feature of the period, was briefly banned by the censor for its supposedly scandalous evocation of convent life, and authorised to be exported only under the distancing title of Suzanne Simonin, la religieuse de Diderot, much as Godard's La Femme mariee had to be retitled Unefemme mariee before it got past the censor.

Resnais, the great cineast of memory, remains unique in his exclusive use of pre-written scripts, the basis for the most extensive formal experimentation with montage among contem- porary film-makers. Novelists Marguerite Duras and Alain Robbe-Grillet, both themselves to go on to direct films, scripted respectively Hiroshima mon amour and L'Annee derniere a Marienbad Hiroshima intertwines the horrors of the nuclear bomb and its central female character's love affairs with a German during 23 French Cinema: A Student's Guide the war and a Japanese afterwards, broaching at once political and ethnic taboos.

Nowadays, with a more widespread awareness that 'the personal is political', its 'dime-store novel' plot as the central character, played by Emmanuelle Riva, her- self describes it appears less audacious than it did at the time, when its sympathetic evocation of a love affair with the enemy was moving into largely uncharted terri- tory. The film, as important a first feature as A bout de souffle, makes vivid, often startling use of subjective visual flashbacks, cutting back and forth between the Hiroshima of 1 and the French provincial town of Nevers under the Occupation.

L'Annee derniere a Marienbad see Figure 1. It is impossible to tell whether its love story, with Delphine Seyrig as the object of two men's desire, is past, present, future, fantasy, or all or none of these. In this respect the film is analogous to the experiments of the 'new novelists' - including Robbe-Grillet - with subjective, fragmented or even contradictory narration. A strikingly, even flamboyantly, modern work, it is also an evocation of and homage to the golden age of black and white film-making; there is scarcely another film it would be so difficult to imagine in colour.

Muriel , also starring Delphine Seyrig, ran into censorship difficulties because of its refer- ences to torture in the Algerian war, much as Godard's Le Petit Soldat had done three years earlier. Censorship of film was rife in the Gaullist era - the downside perhaps of the state's interest in the medium. Officially instituted for the first time during the Occupation, it continued in force thereafter, to such an extent that during the eight years of the Algerian War 'not a single film on the Algerian question was granted a visa' Hayward, Not until Giscard d'Estaing became president in did it all but disappear.

The succes de scandale enjoyed by Louis Malle's second feature, Les Amants , is there to remind us that sexual censorship was scarcely less to be reckoned with though less specific to France in this period than its political counterpart.

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Les Amants stars Jeanne Moreau as a bored bourgeois trophy wife who leaves her family and lover behind after a night of love with a young student she met on the road. The aforementioned succes de scandale pertained to the film's inevitably discreet depiction - or evocation - of cunnilingus, but more profoundly shocking than this might be the wife's seeming abandonment of not only her husband, but her young daughter.

Malle's role as starmaker was reinforced by Vie privee of , with its barely disguised references to the real life of its star, Brigitte Bardot. Varda is beyond doubt French cinema's leading woman director. The number of films directed by women in France has increased exponentially over the past decade in particular, but until the post-war period a woman director was a rarity, 24 Image Not Available Figure 1.

Cleo de 5 a 7 tells in real time the story of a singer who suspects she may have cancer. Hope and encourage- ment are given to her by a young conscript soldier she meets in the Pare Montsouris while waiting for the result of hospital tests - a scene given particular poignancy by the fact that he is at the end of a period of leave from Algeria.

The counterposing of a life under threat from within and one under threat from without figures the interplay of the personal and the political we have already seen at work in Hiroshima mon amour, as well as suggesting how film-makers found ways of incorporating references to the Algerian War into their work without falling foul of the censor. Varda's other work in this period was in the short or documentary format, apart from the ironic love triangle Le Bonkeur of Demy Varda's husband made two major films during this period, Lola and Les Parapluies de Cherbourg Set in western French seaports Nantes and Cherbourg respectively , they refer, in a perhaps deceptively lighthearted way, to the twofold processes of modernisation and decolonisation under way in the France of the time see Ross, , for a masterly analysis of these.

Lola's eponymous heroine, played by Anouk Aimee, oscillates between a French and an American lover before her first love returns driving a vast American car to reclaim her at the end. Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, for all the frothiness of its entirely sung dialogue to music by Michel Legrand , actually offers a serious treatment of the effects of modernisation along with those of the Algerian War. Catherine Deneuve, in her first major role, becomes pregnant by the man she loves the night before he leaves for Algeria; on his return he finds her married off to a wealthy local jeweller, in part because her mother does not believe that a garage mechanic would be an acceptable match for her.

The irony of this, in the increasingly motorised French society of the time, becomes manifest in the film's final sequence, where we see Michel as the proud owner of a large and gleaming garage. Bresson, Tati and Melville, all of whom had come to the fore in the war years, pro- duced arguably their finest work during this period.

Bresson's Pickpocket and Au hasard Balthazar refine his elliptical precision still further; editing here becomes a spiritual quest. Pickpocket's anguished Dostoevskyan hero is never 'analysed' a term anathema to Bresson in any detail. His compulsive thieving is observed in tight phenomenological detail, and only in the film's final sequence, where in prison he is visited by Jeanne for whom he realises the depth of his love, does it dawn on him and the audience that it has represented his way to redemp- tion.

Au hasard Balthazar realises the tour de force of making the tribulations of a 26 HISTORY donkey its central 'character' into a spiritual odyssey - Bresson's rejection of the very idea of the actor carried to its furthest extent - while also offering a surpris- ingly barbed view of modernised France through the presence of the villainous blouson noir Gerard. Tati's only feature of the period, Playtime , is a prodi- giously choreographed near-silent comedy, which lost a vast amount of money and all but ended his career.

Nowadays, it appears not only as his finest work, extraor- dinarily intricate in its complexity of visual organisation, but also as a striking prefiguration of the postmodern era in which everywhere looks like everywhere else. The film follows a group of tourists as they journey round a concrete and glass Paris whose iconic landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower, are visible only in travel agency posters.

Melville's masterpiece Le Samourdi carries his stylisation of the gangster movie to iconographic lengths, in a pared-down narrative with minimal dialogue sustained largely by the androgynous performance, by turns violent and vulnerable, of Alain Delon. By the end of our period the New Wave as any kind of unified movement or entity had ceased to exist some would situate its demise as early as The film-makers associated with it were pursuing widely divergent paths - from the increasingly politicised experimentation of Godard to the more commercial work of Truffaut or Chabrol - all with significant success.

Part at least of the reason for this had to do with the actors and actresses their work brought to the fore. Jeanne Moreau has tended to evoke a more sophisticated, upmarket sex appeal, exempli- fied not only by her roles in Les Amants and Jules et Jim but also by her periodic forays into independent and avant-garde cinema, such as Peter Brook's Duras adaptation Moderate cantabile The key icons of masculinity during this period were Delon and Belmondo.

The former's 'demonic presence beneath the disguise of an angel' Passek, was not to be deployed by a New Wave film-maker until and Godard's Nouvelle vague, but his work for Melville, Rene Clement Plein soleil, and the Italian directors Visconti and Antonioni made him an international art-house superstar. Belmondo's craggy vulnerability made him the ideal interpreter for the two key Godard roles already referred to.

He was to oscillate throughout his career between overtly commercial roles in which his credibility was vastly enhanced by the fact that he insisted on doing all his own stunts and appearances for 27 French Cinema: A Student's Guide 'respectable' directors including - as well as Godard - Chabrol, Resnais and Truffaut. In , French cinema, like the society in which it was rooted and which it repre- sented, appeared to be quietly prosperous and securely grounded.

Yet a crisis that occurred in February of that year suggested that this impression might not alto- gether conform to reality. The Paris Cinematheque, co-founded in by Georges Franju and Henri Langlois, had during the 30 or more years of its existence become one of the world's leading film archives, where as we have seen the New Wave directors and many others received much of their cinematic education.

Langlois's energy and commitment were immensely important in its success, despite his often anarchic curatorial methods. It was these latter that led, in February , to his dismissal by the Culture Minister, Andre Malraux, in an attempt at increasing already pronounced governmental control over the world of culture, which sparked off a massive wave of protest. The Cinematheque was effec- tively closed down by demonstrations until Langlois's reinstatement at the end of April. The 'Langlois affair' now appears as an obvious precursor of the 'events' that were to shake France to the core the following month - events that, as we shall see, were to have a major cultural and political impact in which the cinema would have its part to play.

The Langlois affair, as we have seen, was a pre- figuration of this, and the 'Estates-General of the Cinema', set up during the events by the film technicians' union, discussed various possibilities for the restructuring of the cinema industry in the revolutionary perspective dominant at the time. For all this involvement, however, May 's effect on film-making was in the end slight. More significant for the industry, though not necessarily for film as an art form, was Giscard's abolition of censorship, spearheaded by his Culture Minister, Michel Guy.

This led to a burgeoning of pornographic films, which were more heav- ily taxed than other films and thus cross-subsidised the 'legitimate' industry. They to some extent helped to stem a decline in cinema attendance which nevertheless, as everywhere else, proved to be inexorable, owing above all to the pervasiveness of television. Even so, the French industry was to prove, as it has done ever since, the envy of many others in its ability, thanks to state intervention, to keep 28 HISTORY its head above water, instanced during this period by the continuing success of the major directors from earlier years and the coming to the fore of new film-makers.

The major impact of May on film-making practice is undoubtedly to be found in the work of Godard.

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We have seen that La Chinoise and Weekend, made the year before the events, were a striking prefiguration of them. Godard also worked for television, unsurprisingly encountering problems with its state-dominated apparatus, before returning to his country of citizenship, Switzerland, in the late s. Sauve qui peut la vie was his most 'main- stream' film for some considerable time, situating its political involvement at the level of interpersonal and particularly gender relations rather than of the class struggle.

In its diversity of institutional contexts, its engagement with video and television, its passage through a vehemently committed Marxism to a more diffuse and labile view of what constituted the political, Godard's work of this period serves as a remarkable crystallisation of the wider cultural and ideological evolution of the France of these years. That evolution, we shall see, was to culminate in the election of a Socialist president - Francois Mitterrand - in and the dwindling of May's revolutionary optimism into diverse movements for other forms, notably ethnic- and gender-based, of social change.

He won an Oscar for La Nuit americaine , a comedy about the making of a film, and enjoyed his major commercial success with the Occupation-set theatre drama, Le Dernier Metro 1 , giving starring roles to Catherine Deneuve and the mountainously extravagant Gerard Depardieu.

Yet the exploration - ambiguously complicit or critical - of 'Donjuanism' and gender relations in L'Homme qui aimait lesfemmes , and the death-haunted central character of La Chambre verte , played by Truffaut himself, in different ways give the lie to this view. La Chambre verte appears particu- larly poignant in the light of Truffaut' s tragically early death from a brain tumour in Chabrol went at the provincial bourgeoisie with a will in Le Boucher and Les Noces rouges , among more ephemeral ventures.

Le Boucher shows the influ- ence of Hitchcock in its metaphysical echoes, notably the possible transference of guilt for the village butcher's murders on to the school teacher Helene played by Chabrol's then wife Stephane Audran , who has rejected, or at least refused to con- front her love for, him. The previous year's Que la bete meure! Rivette enjoyed the biggest success of his career with the screwball-influenced Celine et Julie vont en bateau , while making almost certainly the longest French feature film ever, Out One of the same year, which ran for 12 hours and 40 minutes and was understandably only ever screened once in the full-length version.

Rohmer's Ma nuit chez Maud , one of his 'Six Moral Tales' series, is probably his defining work, in its use of intellectualised irony here rooted in a reading of the seventeenth-century philosopher Pascal and investment in talk as alternative rather than preliminary to sex. Le Genou de Claire and L' Amour I'apres-midi , part of the same series, likewise deal with temptations to infidelity or sexual transgression that are resolved through language rather than action.

At a time when Lacanian psychoanalysis, with its stress on the inextricable interplay of lan- guage and desire, was carrying all before it in French intellectual life, it is perhaps not fanciful to suggest that Rohmer's films, for all their evocation of the early Enlightenment world of Marivaux's comedies, were more in tune with their own period than might at first appear. Resnais enjoyed less success in this period than previously, though Mon oncle d'Amerique is a masterly mise-en-scene of the technocratic modernisation of France in the s.

The social transformations of the Giscard years, fuelled by growing Americanisation and issuing in measures ranging from the abolition of censorship to the legalisation of abortion, have tended to be somewhat overshadowed by the earlier hegemony of Gaullism and the largely unrealised hopes invested in the Socialist victory of Yet they were considerable, and Resnais's chronicle of the changing and intertwined fortunes of his three main characters traces them in fascinating detail. In Lancelot du lac , he constructs a bleak and pitiless Middle Ages from which any sense of faith or purpose has been evacuated, and the same is true for his evocation of suicidal contemporary youth in Le Diable, probablement The redemptive possibilities of Journal d'un cure de campagne or Pickpocket seem definitively banished from an increasingly pessimistic body of work.

All in all, then, the New Wave's reputation for innovation did not long survive its first half-dozen or so years. Its swansong - by one not even considered a New Wave director - has to be Jean Eustache's La Maman et la putain , three and a half hours of sexual and philosophical agonising, which take apart the aesthetic, emo- tional and political hopes of the generation see Figure 1. The film stars Jean-Pierre Leaud in probably his greatest role, as a posturing pseudo? The disillusionment that followed the extravagant hopes aroused by the events of May is matched and paralleled by the film's drawing out of New Wave stylistic trademarks - black and white location filming, dialogues that sound improvised though they were not , the use of iconic actors - to something like a point of no return.

The 'New Wave generation' had been reared on first the myth of, then in the reaction against, Gaullism - a cycle that only really came to an end in with the death of de Gaulle's dauphin and successor, Georges Pompidou. That also enabled the calling into question of the myth of omnipresent and heroic resistance to the Occupation on which Gaullism had been founded. Marcel Ophiils's docu- mentary Le Chagrin et la pitie suggested the first stirrings of this. Commissioned by the state broadcasting system the ORTF , it was not shown on television for more than a decade, its revelations of the extent of collaboration in Clermont-Ferrand, which could have been virtually any other French city, proving far too uncomfortable.

The can of worms opened by the film was still alive and writhing in the s, as illustrated by the revelations about President Mitterrand's collaborationist past and the imprisonment of former Giscard minis- ter Maurice Papon for his part in the deportation of Paris Jews. Where the documentary film had led the way, the feature was soon to follow. Louis Malle's Lacombe Lucien gave the first moderately sympathetic portrayal of a collaborator, in the person of its central character who joins the Milice only when 31 Image Not Available History rejected by the Resistance and helps to save the life of the Jewish girl with whom he falls in love see Figure 1.

The debate aroused by these and other films of the time centred less on their artistic qualities than on the legitimacy of calling the myth of the Resistance - hence, for many, the hard-won social and institutional stability of post-war France - into question. This was at the same time a debate around two divergent views of history - one the classic 'classroom' kind grounded in great names and dates, the other more popular, anecdotal and concerned with the study of attitudes and phenomena rather than landmark events.

The second view, pro- moted first by the journal Annates in the post-war period, then by the immensely influential philosopher and historian of ideas Michel Foucault, became extremely influential in the aftermath of , with its stress on the need to give excluded or marginalised voices a hearing. Rene Clement's Paris brule-t-il? Cinema was to have a greater impact on French society and in the wider sense politics through its role in these debates than through the politically fuelled formal innovations advocated by Cahiers du cinema in the s.

In part because of 's limited direct influence on film-making practice, but more significantly in response to the challenge of television and the increasing multinationalisation of the industry, the film-makers who began to build careers for themselves in the s tended towards more conservative models and techniques than their predecessors.

Bertrand Tavernier's low-key social realism, as in the Lyon-set L'Horloger de Saint-Paul and Une semaine de vacances , is a good example of the resurgence of a kind of film-making the New Wave had fondly imagined dead and buried. That Tavernier's major scriptwriter is Jean Aurenche - he of the Aurenche and Bost reviled by Truffaut and others as epitomising the cinema depapa - shows how tenacious such cinema was to prove, reaching its finan- cial if not always artistic apotheosis in the 'heritage movies' of the s and s.

Maurice Pialat began to make his reputation with the terse realism of early works such as L'Enfance nue and La Gueule ouverte , which established him as a venomously anarchistic dissector of the nuclear family and its discontents. Pialat's reputation as all but impossible to work with has never ceased to dog his relation- ships with producers and actors alike, at the same time as whetting audiences' appetites to see films whose on- and off-screen tensions are reputedly almost indis- tinguishable.

Depardieu had become known a few years earlier for his work with Bertrand Blier. Blier's mixture of misogyny and carnivalesque parody was to make him, along with Tavernier and Pialat, the key director to emerge in the s. In this he was greatly helped by the team of actors who worked with him, many of them coming from the world of cafe-theatre. Les Valseuses is a road movie, but breaks with one key convention of that genre in that its central characters played by Depardieu and Patrick Dewaere are in no sense concerned with self-discovery through travel.

Sort order. Shelves: graphic-novel , , library , political-thrillers. The setting of the plot is Berlin on the eve of the fall of the Berlin Wall as some last minute espionage is taking place. The dark, gritty, and not quite so glamorous side of espionage glamorous, in my mind, being like James Bond is featured here.

Usually I enjoy those stories at least somewhat, but I was not super excited about how this one turned out. First of all, I did not find the art appealing at all. In fact, it was even a little bit distracting in its impressionistic blandness. With graphic novels, the story needs to carry the art, the art carry the story, or both be equally awesome. In this case, since the art was blah, I looked to the story - and was met with more blah.

The most interesting part of the story is the fact that it is taking place as the Berlin Wall falls. Other than that, I kept waiting for the story to get really interesting and intriguing. Instead, people just kept driving around, meeting in dark locations, and shooting at each other without a really cohesive, high stakes plot.

At one point, and I am paraphrasing here, one of the characters asks why they are even bothering to do anything they are doing. So, I cannot say I recommend this one. If you just like to check out random graphic novels, keep moving - nothing to see here! Note: I had been excited to see this movie, now not so much.

View all 17 comments. The longest vodka ad in history. View all 36 comments. You really need to check out the trailer. It's delicious! And now, back to the comic November Communism is collapsing, and soon the Berlin Wall will come down with it. Two weeks ago, an undercover MI6 officer was killed in Berlin. He was carrying information from a source in the East -- a list th 2. He was carrying information from a source in the East -- a list that allegedly contains the name of every espionage agent working in Berlin, on all sides. No list was found on his body.

Now Lorraine Broughton, an experienced spy with no pre-existing ties to Berlin, has been sent into this powderkeg of social unrest, counter-espionage, defections gone bad and secret assassinations to bring back the list and save the lives of the British agents whose identities reside on it. I really liked the story and the way things turned out in the end, but the art style was not my cup of tea.

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At all! I'm unsure whether to recommend this one or not. I'll definitely go see the movie and I'm not sorry to have read it. So, I guess it's entirely up to you. View all 4 comments. Apr 19, Sr3yas rated it liked it Shelves: comics-undated , movie-tv-adaptations , comics. Lady John Wick lured me into reading this. The only problem is Our Lorraine is more like a smart brunette.

A bold lady in the cold city of ancient male spies. The cold city is Berlin and the year Lady John Wick lured me into reading this.

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The cold city is Berlin and the year is To be exact, the date is 28 October a dozen days before the fall of infamous Berlin wall. The city is in turmoil and the place is dangerous, but Lorraine has a mission to complete. Actually, it is too damn similar to Usual suspects. From the interrogative style story telling to the "twist" ending that hide spoiler ] painfully lacks originality diminishes the effect of the story.

Plus the art isn't winning any points here. It's a good espionage thriller. But it had potential to be better. The story contradicts its own rules and if you'll think hard enough, you'll find so many issues that question the plot. As I am scared that our new atomic blonde might beat me up if I write something too harsh, I am gonna leave the matter here. Just Look at her go! View all 5 comments. A solid Cold War espionage tale set in Berlin when the wall was falling. This is the book Atomic blonde is based on and our main character is neither atomic nor blonde.

Obviously they are punching the story up because there's more action in the trailer than there is in this entire book. I found the art quite sparse and hard to "read" at times. I definitely wasn't a fan of it. Britain's number 2 agent in Berlin has been murdered and MI6 sends Lorraine in to find a list that was on his person befor A solid Cold War espionage tale set in Berlin when the wall was falling. Britain's number 2 agent in Berlin has been murdered and MI6 sends Lorraine in to find a list that was on his person before the KGB can find it.

She then uncovers a much different plot going on before we get the big twist at the end. Received an advance copy from Oni and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. View 2 comments. Dec 19, Scott S. A pistol-packing, shades toting, fishnet-wearing Ms. Theron is even pictured on the cover. Ditto the new, alluring title.

Don't we all just love 'bait and switch'? Well I don't. Protagonist Lorraine Broughton - who is illustrated more so in a manner that suggests actresses Faye Dunaway or Meryl Streep when they portrayed demure characters - is a veteran espionage officer from MI-6 assigned to an investigation in Berlin. The setting is original, as it's just scant weeks before the Wall fell in autumn of '89 and the Cold War was still 'hot. The ending won't be a surprise to those fairly well-read, though.

Oct 25, Beattie rated it it was ok Shelves: film-only , betrayal , published , berlin , adventure , cold-war , gorefest , period-piece , spies , too-sexy-for-maiden-aunts. Description: November Now Lorraine Broughton, an experienced spy with no pre-existing tie Description: November Film title: Atomic Blonde The full soundtrack is to die for - and many do die in this story View all 3 comments. Nov 14, Rebecca McNutt rated it liked it Shelves: spy , fiction , comics-graphic-novels , cold-war , thriller. I've yet to see the film Atomic Blonde.

I keep spending my theater cash, of which I don't have much of, on books. Either way, I really enjoyed The Coldest City , and I liked the Soviet era setting, but it was just your average run-of-the-mill graphic novel, not particularly memorable or special. Beautiful artwork, though. I'd definitely look for more work by the illustrator again. View 1 comment. Jun 16, Christine rated it it was amazing Shelves: mystery-spies , netgalley-and-arcs , comic-books. There is an idea that spy stories are male stories.

Even excellent ones like Wish Me Luck have a good, strong dosing of romance. The women in such spy movie tend to be helpless, evil until they met the good guy and then they either repent or get dumb, or to be in charge like M in James Bond. There are exceptions, Wish Me Luck had tough women in it, but overall you have to wonder how th There is an idea that spy stories are male stories. There are exceptions, Wish Me Luck had tough women in it, but overall you have to wonder how the woman got into the spy business to begin with if she was going to break so quickly.

This is why it is nice to read this graphic novel. This is very much like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, but with more twists, excellent well done twists. But if you are looking for a cerebral story set in the waning days of the Cold War, this is fits the prescription. The central character is Lorraine, a woman sent to Berlin to discover what has happened to a missing list. You know those list that if it gets into the wrong hands, everyone dies.

The great thing is that it works well in this graphic novel because Johnston brings freshness to it. Even in graphic novel format, the characters are well shaded and far from flat. Lorraine is an interesting, a tough as nails woman she is not a girl , very much like the spies that tend to show up in the British drama. Supporting characters are also very believable. This is a nicely done and thrilling mystery in terms of plot.



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