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Patrice Leconte's Ridicule - Women in the political sphere: transforming memory into modernity?

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Does Ridicule (Leconte, 1996), which is set in 1783, exemplify French film-makers' ‘desire to transform memory into modernity’, as Daniel Toscan du Plantier contends? Taking into account eighteenth-century texts, as well as previous novels and films, this essay examines the interaction between history, memory, and modernity in Leconte's film, particularly when it comes to its depiction of female characters within a nature/science/progress/ vs. artificiality/intrigue/stagnation/decadence structure. In view of the sexual ‘parity’ advocated by contemporary French governments, this essay also addresses the common dichotomous pattern which depicts a woman who betrays her ‘nature’ out of political ambition as artificial and corrupted, her lucidity (a redeeming trait in a man) only condemning her further so she must be punished, while a woman who remains true to her apolitical ‘nature’ gets rewarded in the end.

Keywords: Choderlos de Laclos; On the Education of Women; Patrice Leconte; Ridicule

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/sfci.3.3.137/1

Affiliations: Middlebury College

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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  • Studies in French Cinema is the only journal published in English devoted exclusively to French cinema, providing scholars, teachers and students from around the world with a consistent quality of academic investigation across the full breadth of the subject. Contributors scrutinise the cultural context of various works and the diverse stylistic approaches that infuse the visual fabric of this genre.
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