Contemporary French Civilization

From Bardot to Binoche: the Pygmalion myth and artistic collaboration in French cinema

Contemporary French Civilization (2011), 36, (3), 201–218.

Abstract

This article focuses on three artistic collaborations to analyze the shifting meanings of the Pygmalion myth in French cinema throughout several decades: Roger Vadim and Brigitte Bardot, Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina, as well as, more recently, Leos Carax and Juliette Binoche. From Bardot to Binoche, the artistic dynamic of the Pygmalion myth changes considerably, progressively acknowledging the creative agency of actresses. While Bardot and Karina are portrayed as inspirational muses in the interaction with their film directors on and off screen, Binoche and Carax are established as more equal creative partners. Due to the more important and complex roles played by women in the French film industry from the 1970s to the 1990s, the artistic interaction between directors and actresses increasingly emphasizes the value of the actresses' contributions, providing examples of truly equal filmic partnerships. The transformations of the Pygmalion myth therefore open new paths for investigating cinematographic collaborations.

Cet article examine trois collaborations artistiques qui illustrent le mythe de Pygmalion dans le cinéma français et ses significations changeantes à travers plusieurs décennies: Roger Vadim et Brigitte Bardot, Jean-Luc Godard et Anna Karina, et, plus récemment, Leos Carax et Juliette Binoche. De Bardot à Binoche, la dynamique artistique du mythe de Pygmalion change considérablement, en reconnaissant progressivement le pouvoir créateur des actrices. Tandis que Bardot et Karina sont représentées en tant que muses inspiratrices de leurs réalisateurs dans des films et des discours médiatiques, Carax et Binoche participent en tant que partenaires au processus de création filmique. Suite aux rôles plus importants et complexes assignés aux femmes dans le cinéma français pendant les années 1970–1990, l'interaction artistique entre réalisateurs et actrices commence à mettre en valeur le travail artistique des actrices, en révélant d'authentiques collaborations filmiques. Par conséquent, ces transformations du mythe de Pygmalion ouvrent de nouvelles voies à l'analyse des collaborations cinématographiques.

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Redmond-Cooper, Ruth. "The Press and the Law of Privacy." The International and Comparative Law Quarterly. 34:4 (1985): 769–785. Print. Google Scholar

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Vadim, Roger. Bardot, Deneuve, Fonda. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986. Bardot, Deneuve, Fonda Google Scholar

Vadim, Roger. Memoirs of the Devil. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977. Memoirs of the Devil Google Scholar

Vassé, Claire. "Jeunes comédiens. Rêves de cinéma. Les jeunes acteurs français" Positif 435 May 1997: 8–11. Print. Google Scholar

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Bazgan, Nicoleta