The digitised spectacles conjured by a word like 'blockbuster' may create a certain cognitive dissonance with received ideas about French cinema - long celebrated as a model for philosophical, economic and aesthetic resistance to globalised popular culture. While the Gallic 'cultural exception' remains a forceful current to this day, this book shows how the onslaught of Hollywood mega-franchises and new media platforms since the 1980s has also provoked an overtly commercialised response from French producers eager to redefine the stakes and scope of their own traditions.
Cutting a swath through recent French-produced cinema, French Blockbusters offers the first book-length consideration of the theoretical implications, historical impact and cultural consequences of recent popular films that are rapidly changing what it means to make - or to see - a 'French' film today. From English-language action vehicles like Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Besson, 2017) to revisionist historical films like Of Gods and Men (Beauvois, 2011) and crowd-pleasing comedies like Intouchables (Toledano & Nakache, 2011), the variously filiated 'local blockbusters' from contemporary France brim with the seeds of cultural contradiction, but also with the energy of a counter-history.
About the Author
Charlie Michael earned his PhD in Film Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and currently teaches cinema and media studies courses at Emory University in Atlanta. He co-edited the Directory of World Cinema: France (Intellect, 2013) and his work has also appeared in SubStance, The Velvet Light Trap, Quebec Studies, French Politics, Culture & Society, and A Companion to Contemporary French Cinema.
Table of Contents
Foreward by Frédéric Gimello-Mesplomb
Introduction: French Blockbusters?
1. The Lang Plan and its Aftermath
2. Popular French Cinema and 'Cultural Diversity'
3. The Debatable Destiny of Amélie Poulain
4. Valerian and the Planet of a Thousand Critics
5. Countercurrents in French Action Cinema
6. Serial (Bad?) French Comedies
Conclusion: A Disputed Heritage