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Open Access From Spectacle to Affect: Contextualizing Transgression in French Cinema at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century

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French cinema at the dawn of the twenty-first century will perhaps most be remembered for a vast number of productions that pushed the boundaries of cultural taste. This article first contextualizes the concept of transgression as it applies to a number of French films which have been analysed in terms of extreme filmmaking practices. Despite the different representations of taboo or transgressive themes and cinematic forms, this grouping of films insists on transforming the spectacle of cinema to one that is entrenched within embodied spectatorship. What makes a number of these films particularly shocking, provoking or otherwise difficult to watch is the polarized display of seemingly incommensurate senses, that is, the ostensible incompatibility between the possibility of representation — that which can be shown, hence seen — and affect — that which must be experienced, or felt. Second, this article focuses on the example of Gaspar No√® and his 1998 film Seul contre tous and suggests that one of the mainstays of this 'new' extremity has recourse to an earlier generation of filmmakers for whom the concept of pure representation became the mechanism on which a number of avant-garde manifestos were based. This article thus places this cinema on a continuum of transgression to explore how it engages with and responds to key theoretical essays and manifestos from the early twentieth century.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 31, 2012

More about this publication?
  • The Irish Journal of French Studies is an annual international refereed journal published by the Association des Études Françaises et Francophones d'Irlande. Articles in English, French or Irish are welcomed on any aspect of research in the area of French and Francophone culture, society, literature and thought. Articles published within the last two years are available free online to members and may be purchased by non-members. All other articles are available on an open access basis.

    Please note that the Print ISSN listed for the journal on this website applies to volumes 1 to 10, and part of volume 16. All other volumes are published, in their entirety, on-line only.

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