courses > 2009 spring

Elective Courses

CINE 386 - Paris in Film

FREN 386
401 | TR 3-4:30pm

Latter-day examples like Christophe Honoré’s Dans Paris or the international omnibus Paris, je t’aime (with each director paying homage to a distinctive “arrondissement,” or district, of the capital), both released in 2006, or even more recently Cédric Klapisch’s Paris (2008), are there to remind us that there is something special – indeed, a special kind of magic – about Paris in and on film. Despite the extreme polarization between Paris and provincial France in both cultural and socio-economic terms, cultural historians have argued that Paris is a symbol of France (as a centralized nation), more than Rome is of Italy and much more than Madrid is of Spain or Berlin of Germany, for example. The prevalence of the City of Lights on our screens, Gallic and otherwise, should therefore come as no surprise, be it as a mere backdrop or as a character in its own right. But how exactly are the French capital and its variegated people captured on celluloid? Can we find significant differences between French and non-French approaches, or between films shot on location that have the ring of “authenticity” and studio-bound productions using reconstructed sets? Do these representations vary through time and perhaps reflectspecific historical periods or zeitgeists? Do they conform to genre-based formulas and perpetuate age-old stereotypes, or do they provide new, original insights while revisiting cinematic conventions? Do some (sub)urban areas and/or segments of the Parisia population (in terms of gender, race or class, for example) receive special attention or treatment? These are some of the many questions that we will seek to address… with a view to offering the next best thing to catching the next non-stop flight to Paris! Films by such directors as Renoir, Minelli, Truffaut, Godard, Malle, Bertolucci, Losey, Rohmer, Tavernier, Carax, Kassovitz, Jeunet, Haneke. This classwill be conducted in English. Students writing their assignments in French will receive credit for the French major.