Republic of Images

Republic of Images : A History of French Filmmaking

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Chronicling one of the greatest and most popular national cinemas, Republic of Images traces the evolution of French filmmaking from 1895-the year of the debut of the Cinematographe in Paris-to the present day. Alan Williams offers a unique synthesis of history, biography, aesthetics and film theory. He brings to life all of the major directors, setting before us the cultures from which they emerged, and sheds new light on the landmark films they created. He distills what is historically and artistically unique in each of their careers and reveals what each artist has in common with the forebears and heirs of the craft.

Within the larger story of French cinema, Williams examines the treasury of personal expression, social commentary, and aesthetic exploration that France has produced so consistently and exported so well. It is the tale of an industry rife with crises, and Williams offers a superb narrative of the economic, political, and social forces that have shaped its century-long history. He provides biographical sketches of filmmakers from the early pioneers of the silent era such as Louis Lumiere and Alice Guy to modern directors such as Louis Malle, Claude Chabrol, and Francois Truffaut. Some of their careers, he shows, exemplify the significant contributions individuals made to the development of French fllmmaking; others yield illuminating evidence of the problems and opportunities of a whole generation of filmmakers. Throughout, he presents critical analyses of significant films, from The Assassination of the Duc de Guise (1908) to works by the post-nouvelle vague directors.

Williams captures the formal and stylistic developments of film in France over nearly one hundred years. Free of cant and jargon, Republic of Images is the best general account available of the rich interplay of film, filmmaker, and society. It will delight both general reader and student, as well as the viewer en route to the video store.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 472 pages
  • 156 x 235 x 30.99mm | 717g
  • Cambridge, Mass, United States
  • English
  • 0674762681
  • 9780674762688
  • 641,374

Back cover copy

To tell the story of this small but highly visible and influential sector of French cinema requires also to tell the larger story of the industry which allowed-in fact, encouraged- its creation. And so this book includes a great deal of information on French film production in general, particularly at the moments of economic and moral crisis which seem to scan its history, like a strange rhyme scheme, every decade or decade and a half.
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Table of contents

A Note on Film Titles and Dates Introduction Part I: French Cinema Dominates the World Market 1. The Cinema Before Cinema 2. An Industry Begins 3. Growth and Diversification Part II: The Golden Age of the Silent Film 4. Decline and Mutation 5. The Mental and the Physical 6. The Commercial and the Esoteric Part III: The Golden Age of the Sound Cinema 7. An Unexpected Upheaval 8. Art and Entertainment in the Sound Film 9. Politics, Poetics, and the Cinema Part IV: A New Kind of Cinema 10. War and Occupation 11. Liberation-Change and Continuity 12. An Alternative Film Culture Part V: The Nouvelle Vague and After 13. Fourth Wave 14. Filmmaking at the Margins 15. Winds of Change Notes Bibliography Index
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Review quote

The history of French cinema is the history of cinema.--Nestor Almendros
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Rating details

43 ratings
3.79 out of 5 stars
5 23% (10)
4 40% (17)
3 33% (14)
2 2% (1)
1 2% (1)
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