The Social Architecture of French Cinema


Margaret C. Flinn

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ISBN: 9781781380338

Publication: July 22, 2014

Series: Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures 34

In the USA? Buy the Hardback US edition
From the fleetingly captured street scenes of the city symphony, to the meticulously reconstructed studio city of musical comedies; from the propagandistic Popular Front documentaries about construction workers, to poetic realism’s bittersweet portraits of populist neighborhoods: Social Architecture explores the construction, representation and experience of spaces and places in documentary and realist films of the French 1930s. In this book, Margaret C. Flinn tracks the relation between the emergent techniques of French sound cinema and its thematic, social and political preoccupations through analysis of discourse in contemporary press, theoretical texts and through readings of films themselves. New light is shed on works of canonical directors such as Renoir, Clair, Vigo and Duvivier by their consideration in relationship to little known documentary films of the era. Flinn argues that film has a readable architecture—a configuration of narrative and representations that informs, explains, and creates social identities, while reflecting upon the position of individuals within their societies.

Margaret C. Flinn is Assistant Professor of French at Ohio State University.

List of Illustrations Acknowledgements Introduction: An Architecture of Social Being 1. The Spatial Constitution of 1930s Documentary 3. René Clair’s City Views: Realism and Studio Paris 3. Intertext and Political Margins in Jean Renoir’s Boudu sauvé des eaux 4. Traversing Built History in Architectural Documentaries 5. Flâneuses and the Unmaking of Place 6. The Crowd as New Monumentality during the Popular Front Epilogue: Poetic Realism as Spatial Fable Notes Bibliography Index

Flinn’s book is a valuable and original contribution to research on one of the most important periods of French film history.
Edward Ousselin   French Review

With a comprehensive bibliography, readable style, and pertinent screengrabs, this book opens up new pathways for understanding and appreciating the complex terrain of 1930s French cinema. 
  French Studies Vol. 69 No. 3

An intellectually ambitious project that brings together film history and architecture ... and a valuable contribution to scholarship on French cinema of the 1930s.
Ginette Vincendeau  
King’s College London

First-rate... Flinn adopts a well-argued and innovative interdisciplinary approach and selects an intriguing corpus of films - some, notably Boudu, well-known and widely accessible, others much harder to view, but well described and contextualized.
University of Glasgow

Format: Hardback

Size: 239 x 163 mm

254 Pages

ISBN: 9781781380338

Publication: July 22, 2014

Series: Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures 34

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