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Julien Duvivier$
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Ben McCann

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780719091148

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719091148.001.0001

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The ‘impure’ auteur

The ‘impure’ auteur

(p.8) 1 The ‘impure’ auteur
Julien Duvivier

Ben McCann

Manchester University Press

This opening chapter will contextualise the ‘Duvivier style’. It will look at his chief formative influence, André Antoine, whose influential theories on cinematic naturalism, location shooting, and performance authenticity was cultivated and developed by Duvivier throughout his career. The chapter will examine what makes a Duvivier film. Historians often make reference to Duvivier’s love of ‘work well done’ as his signature legacy and enduring film-making ethos. The chapter will introduce the key recognisable Duvivier traits: an expressive mise en scène, fluid camera movement and a complex negotiation of décor, strong central performances by stars and new actors, pessimistic narratives, incorporation of melodramatic elements (music, production design), and a film-by-film reliability. This analysis of Duvivier, beyond its historical range, also proposes to engage with key debates in film studies: notably auteurism, stardom and audience reception. The chapter will also look at how Duvivier fits into a history of both French national cinema and international film production. Duvivier’s genre eclecticism and lack of a coherent corpus should not be seen as a negative; instead, it is necessary to read Duvivier’s wide-ranging approach to genre and subject matter as a response to and engagement with important development in French and international film praxis.

Keywords:   André Antoine, Auteur, Mise en scène, French national cinema, Stardom

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