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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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Roads, rivers, canals: spaces of freedom from Epstein to Vigo

Roads, rivers, canals: spaces of freedom from Epstein to Vigo

(p.37) 3 Roads, rivers, canals: spaces of freedom from Epstein to Vigo
Screening the Paris suburbs

Jean-Louis Pautrot

Manchester University Press

Visual tropes of movement and passage in French films of the 1920s and 1930s qualify the suburb as a locus of temporary release from the constraints of authority, industrialization and modernity as well as from an unmoving rural past. Suburban roadways and waterways allow world-weary individuals momentarily to reinvent themselves. Commenting on films by Jean Renoir (La Fille de l’eau, 1924; La Nuit du carrefour, 1932), Jean Epstein (La Glace à trois faces, 1927) and Marcel Carné (Nogent, el Dorado du dimanche, 1929), the author highlights moments of phenomenological discovery and psychological negotiation. Where the canals showcased in Jean Vigo’s poetic realist L’Atalante, classified in its time as a river barge film, allow for progressive self-discovery, motorways and the attendant car culture of the interwar period reflect in other titles an ‘accelerating transformation of the world’. Tropes of euphoric mobility and freedom would lose their force by the close of the 1930s, when the mood sours and the suburb turns dark.

Keywords:   leisure, montage, movement, transportation, freedom

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