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Studies in French Cinema





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If the French-Algerian War remained for decades a 'war without a name', as Bertrand Tavernier and Patrick Rotman suggested in their so-titled 1992 documentary, for many years it was also considered to be a war without a cinema, both in France and in Algeria. Benjamin Stora, a historian who has written extensively on the development of French memory of the Algerian War, speaks of a 'black hole' in French cinema of this period, of the absence of films dealing with the war in a frank and direct manner, both during the war and subsequently. In his opinion, this absence was indicative of a 'large scale acquiescence of the Algerian war on the part of French consciousness, though perhaps on a very subconscious level.' and suggests that by refusing to speak out directly against the war in their films, French filmmakers tacitly supported it. An allegorical reading of Jacques Demy's Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (1963), challenges this viewpoint. In this article, I interpret Demy's film allegorically in order to illuminate its contribution to French cinema's understanding of both the war itself and of a nascent post-colonial France. I argue that Les Parapluies de Cherbourg represents a fundamental crisis in France's national identity of the 1960s, a vigorous interrogation of its place in history and geography posed by the political and economic transformation brought about by French decolonization.


French and Francophone Language and Literature | Other Film and Media Studies