The use of the spoken word in contemporary French minority cinema, with specific reference to banlieue and gay cinema (1990-2000).
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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This thesis seeks to analyse the ways in which the spoken word is used in two French minority cinemas – cinema de banlieue and gay cinema – between 1990 and 2000, in order to express an engagement with the complex, layered, and fractured identities of France’s citizens in the late twentieth century.
This analysis will be conducted through three prisms which correspond to the three central chapters of the thesis: ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. These three areas of analysis were chosen because the particular aspects of individual and collective identity with which they engage embody the three central challenges to contemporary republican values which have emerged in 1990s debates.
Each chapter will present a detailed examination of a series of onscreen verbal exchanges drawn from four key films, with supplementary reference to other works from the two genres studied here. These examinations will be placed against the socio-political backdrop of 1990s France in order to highlight their specific relevance to broader ongoing debates regarding the nature of French republicanism as critically interpreted.
The first chapter will focus on verbal exchanges through the prism of ethnicity, and specifically on conflictual verbal encounters, as illustrated, in particular, in Hexagone (Chibane, 1994), La Haine (Kassovitz, 1995), Raï (Gilou, 1995), and La Squale (Généstal, 2000). The second chapter will examine constructions of gendered identities in Gazon maudit (Balasko, 1995), Douce maudit (Balasko, 1995), Douce France (Chibane, 1995), Ma 6-T va crack-er (Richet, 1997), and Belle Maman (Aghion, 1999), concentrating on verbal exchanges around parent-child relationships. Analysis in the final central chapter will be conducted through the prism of sexuality, examining onscreen exchanges involving friends and lovers in Pédale douce (Aghion, 1996), Le Ciel, les oiseaux et.. ta mère! (Bensalah, 1999), Le Derrière (Lemercier, 1999), and Drôle de Félix (Ducastel and Martineau, 2000). These chapters will pave the way to an attempt to come to terms with the question: Does the use of the spoken word in gay and banlieue cinema merely reaffirm the identity of separate communities, or does it rather function as a site for construction and reconstruction?
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