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Decentring France

Multilingualism and power in contemporary French cinema

By Gemma King

Decentring France

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Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1357-3
  • Pages: 232
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: August 2017
  • BIC Category: The arts / Film theory & criticism, Film Studies, Cultural studies, Films, cinema, Film history, theory & criticism, PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / General, PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / History & Criticism, Language / Bilingualism & multilingualism, The arts / Films, cinema, Society & social sciences / Cultural studies

Description

In a world defined by the flow of people, goods and cultures, many contemporary French films explore the multicultural nature of today's France through language. From rival lingua francas such as English to socio-politically marginalised languages such as Arabic or Kurdish, multilingual characters in these films exploit their knowledge of multiple languages, and offer counter-perspectives to dominant ideologies of the role of linguistic diversity in society. Decentring France is the first substantial study of multilingual film in France. Unpacking the power dynamics at play in the dialogue of eight emblematic films, this book argues that many contemporary French films take a new approach to language and power, showing how even the most historically-maligned languages can empower their speakers. This book offers a unique insight to academics and students alike, into the place of language and power in French cinema today.

Reviews

'Fifty years ago, the French cinema was both provincial and artificially nationalistic. Despite the New Wave's efforts to explore the more plastic qualities of the medium, French cinema remained tied to one form of identity, as the last remnants of its colonial past finally fell away. Today, the French cinema is much more multicultural, and indeed multiculturalism-and the profusion of languages that come with other cultures-has become one of the central themes of recent French films. Starting off with a brief overview of French cinema from the silent period to the present, King (Australian National Univ.,) then focuses on eight films that are both multicultural and multilingual, and examines how the use of Kurdish, Tamil, Arabic, and other languages within these films empowers the cultures they represent as well as the languages themselves. King argues that by refusing to "center" the French language in contemporary French cinema, these films-among them Jacques Audiard's Dheepan (2015) and Un prophète (2009), Laurent Cantet's Entre les murs (2008), Philippe Lioret's Welcome (2009)-force cinemagoers into a deeper engagement with issues of class, race, nationality, and cultural privilege.'
G. A. Foster, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, CHOICE, October 2018, Vol. 56, No. 2

Author

Gemma King is Lecturer in French Studies at the Australian National University

Contents

List of figures
1 Introduction
2 A brief history of multilingualism in French cinema
3 Decentred perspectives: case studies
4 Capital centres: Polisse and Entre les murs
5 Urban margins: Un prophète and Dheepan
6 Coastal borders: Welcome and La Graine et le mulet
7 International spaces: London River and Des hommes et des dieux
8 Conclusion
Appendices
Filmography
Index