Faber & Faber, Paperback, 9780571211739, 464pp.
Publication Date: June 7, 2011
The Hollywood model of cinema as mass-market spectacle—as entertainment rather than an art—is more dominant than ever, its box-office power amounting to an effective monopoly. France has been one of the most active countries to challenge this hegemony. A key motivation has been its sense of a distinct film tradition that has always provided the most sustained alternative model to Hollywood.The respected film critic Charles Drazin has written what will become the definitive history of French cinema. Drazin examines France’s role as the inventor of cinema and its pivotal influence over the language of cinema across the past century. Along the way, he highlights the influence of Hollywood directors such as Hitchcock, Ford, and Hawks on Truffaut’s generation, as well as the impact of British directors such as Ken Loach and Mike Leigh on current filmmakers. French Cinema seeks to capture some essence of French cinema through the key personalities and episodes in its history, but it is also the story of a conflict between two traditions that continues to this day.
“Arguing that tensions over art for unprofitable art’s sake vs. commercial success have been part of France’s film industry since the beginning, Drazin provides a convincing overview of a cultural force that briefly dominated the world’s theaters, then ceded the commercial sphere to America, which repeatedly co-opted and homogenized French film’s cultural and technical innovations . . . Concise, meaty profiles of pioneers . . . A thorough interview of French cinema’s art, business, and uneasy relationship with Hollywood, as authoritative as it is affectionate.” --Vadim Rizov, The Onion A.V. Club