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Screening the Paris suburbsFrom the silent era to the 1990s$
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Derek Schilling and Philippe Met

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526106858

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526106858.001.0001

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Margins and thresholds of French cinema: Ménilmontant, Le Sang des bêtes, Colloque de chiens

Margins and thresholds of French cinema: Ménilmontant, Le Sang des bêtes, Colloque de chiens

(p.77) 6 Margins and thresholds of French cinema: Ménilmontant, Le Sang des bêtes, Colloque de chiens
Screening the Paris suburbs

Erik Bullot

Manchester University Press

The author addresses singularity, figural expression and transgression in three experimental shorts that picture the margins of Paris the better to interrogate the limits of cinematic language itself. To what extent might filmmakers who refuse the codes of an audience-ready cinema of the juste milieu stake a claim to an art of the periphery? Linking the working-class neighbourhood of its title to crime, Dimitri Kirsanoff’s silent Ménilmontant (1926) gestures towards melodrama even as it proposes an introduction to avant-garde film poetics. Georges Franju’s Le Sang des bêtes (1949), on Paris’s slaughterhouses, strikes a formal balance between poetic décor on the one hand and, on the other, the drama of livestock being steamed, stunned and decapitated. Deep generic instability and distanced humour characterise Raúl Ruiz’s off-kilter parody of surrealism Colloque de chiens (1977). Throughout these works, the internal and external borders of Paris work as zones of latent or overt violence to dissolve genre; scenes of fragmentation and dismemberment upend any pretention to a balanced and harmonious cinema of the juste milieu. The suburb becomes an ideal projective screen.

Keywords:   genre, authorship, transgression, slaughterhouses, surrealism

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