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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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Towers of evil: Jean-Claude Brisseau

Towers of evil: Jean-Claude Brisseau

(p.190) 14 Towers of evil: Jean-Claude Brisseau
Screening the Paris suburbs

David Vasse

Manchester University Press

Jean-Claude Brisseau’s early forays into filmmaking were inseparable from the social milieu he knew best, the blighted world of the social housing projects surrounding Paris and the particular institutions, formal or informal, that shape the prospects of French youth in particular. In the space of a decade, from the late 1970s to the year of the release of De Bruit et de fureur, Brisseau crafted a metaphysical approach to suburban existence that bears witness to the delinquency, disquiet and dereliction that parch the imaginary. Beneath the despoiled surface of ordinary things, the director consistently unveils a maleficent, almost supernatural essence that compounds the suffering of the human animal. Youth who routinely strive for transcendence, or simply for the right to receive an education, are brought to the brink of crisis. Focusing on violent death in La Vie comme ça (1978), on the instrumentalisation of relationships in L’Échangeur (1981) and on the Shakespearean vision informing De Bruit et de fureur (1988), the author paints a portrait of a humanity torn between elevation and despoilment, between nothingness and the light.

Keywords:   violence, metaphysics, housing projects, transcendence, crime

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