Sep 28, 09
Read in December, 2005
I used this wonderful anthology and history of French cinema in an honors seminar on French film back in 2006, so it is already a little bit dated in terms of more recent films. I hope Lanzoni will eventually publish an updated version because since 2004 there have appeared so many wonderful French films such as La Vie en Rose, Persepolis, Les Poupées Russes, and Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis, and I would love to hear this author's comments on those works as well. Nonetheless, this book cannot be beat for its historical approach from the very beginnings of film in 1895 developed from the French Lumière brothers, Louis and Auguste--(How could these two not be filmmakers? They have that great name!)--through the silent era of film, the golden age of the 1930s, the classics of the 1940s, up through the New Wave of the late 1950s and early 1960s that featured bold innovative new films by directors Francois Truffaut (Jules et Jim, Tirez sur le Pianiste), Jean-Luc Goddard (Au Bout du Souffle [Breathless:]), Une Femme est une Femme), Jacques Demi (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg), Alain Resnais (Hiroshima, Mon Amour) and others. The book also follows chronologically the film careers of many great French actors such as Simone Signoret, Jean Gabin, and Gerard Depardieu. Also featured are wonderful literary films including Jean de Florette and Germinal, gritty period pieces such as Ridicule, goofball comedies like Rabbi Jacob and La Cage aux Folles, and contemporary films about social problems in France such as La Haine. This study also looks at how Hollywood filmmakers were inspired to make American remakes of French classics such as Trois Hommes et un Couffin which became Three Men and a Baby and Les Compères, which later had a bumbling Robin Williams (in Father's Day) taking over the role first played by the bumbling Pierre Richard. All in all, this is a great comprehensive look at French cinema, and even though it stops at 2004, for every significant French film made up until then, this study is invaluable.