The Genre, Myth and Convention in the Classic French Cinema, 1929-1939
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The Genre, Myth and Convention in the Classic French Cinema, 1929-1939

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In Genre, Myth, and Convention in the French Cinema, 1929-1939, Colin Crisp identifies recurrent patterns in the fields of character, narrative, and setting in the French cinema of the early sound period, delineating the myths that these patterns embodied. His analysis of similar patterns in film magazines of the day and of the degree of popularity enjoyed by the stars of the day and of the individual films aims to identify those mythic patterns which best answered the needs of the various audiences of the day. This book is in two parts - the first deals with the 1300 films produced by the French cinema in the 1930s, while the second deals with secondary publications of the period that comment on those films. The first part treats the 1300 films as a single global textual system, which returns obsessively to certain types of story, certain types of character and certain types of setting. These repetitions within the system are regarded as markers of the mythic significance of the material which recurs. In order to isolate them from this vast number of films, many of which no longer exist, all available films were viewed and descriptions or summaries of the others were analysed. The recurrent elements have been divided into a number of recognised categories-nation, class, gender, education, the media and the law-but framed by two crucial sections-the initial chapter on identity (since myths are crucial to the self-understanding of the individuals and societies for whom - they function), and art (since this allows a reflexive consideration of the self-understanding of the cultural community which constructed and circulated the myths). The second part deals in turn with the extent to which secondary material of the day recognised and discussed film genres, the extent to which film magazines consecrated actors as stars, and the images which they associated with those stars, and finally the extent to which each of the 1300 films was successful with the public of the day. These three chapters support and reinforce many of the hypotheses proposed in the first part of the book, and extend their significance to include the mythic self-understanding of the audiences who received them. Genre, Myth, and Convention in the French Cinema, 1929-1939 is a further stage in Crisp's attempt to explore and analyse, using the particular instance of classic French film, the cinema as an institution and the textual system to which it gave rise, and the light which these can shed on the process of production and reception of specific films. The analysis has been restricted exclusively to films and associated material produced during the decade of the 1930s, and does not attempt to take into account commentary or analysis by later critics. It is accompanied by a catalogue of all films produced during the decade, a bibliography of books on film produced during that decade, and a brief guide to each of the 200 or more films viewed while writing it.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 440 pages
  • 154.9 x 233.7 x 24.9mm | 684.94g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 25 b&w photographs
  • 0253215161
  • 9780253215161
  • 1,652,015

Review quote

""Crisp's wide-ranging exploration of the first decade of sound cinema in France build significantly on his pivotal industrial study, The Classic French Cinema 1930-1960... this is one of the most stimulating works on French film written over the last decade. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students, researchers, and faculty."" --S./P>--S. Liebman, CUNY Graduate Center""Choice"" (01/01/2003)show more

About Colin Crisp

Before his recent retirement, Colin Crisp was Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies at Griffith University in Brisbane, which he joined when it first opened in 1975, and where he served as Chairman and Dean of Humanities, and later as Acting Provost and Director of the Queensland College of Art. He has published a number of books on the French cinema, and notably The Classic French Cinema 1930-1960, which the present work supplements by its consideration of genre and myth in the first decade of the French sound cinema.show more

Table of contents

ContentsAcknowledgementsIntroductionPart One: Thirteen Hundred Films1. Identity2. Nation and Race3. Class 4. Gender and the Family5. Education, the Media and the Law 6. Art and TranscendencePart Two: Genre, Star, Box Office7. Cinematic Genres in France: "a grotesque mask," or "the genius of the system?"8. The Stars in their (dis)courses: "anemic dreams and poetry for pallid people?"9. Box Office Success in the Thirties: "films debased by popular taste?"ConclusionAppendix A. A Viewer's Guide; Appendix B. Filmography 1929-1939; Notes; Bibliography; Indexshow more

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