French Cinema's Reflection of History: From Joan of Arc to May 68

TLDR French cinema offers a unique and engaging way to learn about French history, with films like "Joan the Maid," "Ridicule," and "La Grande Illusion" providing different perspectives on historical events. From the Middle Ages to World War I and the occupation of France, these films explore themes of war, politics, and societal issues.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 French cinema is considered the home of cinema and films are a fun way to learn about French history, although the teaching of history is changing in France and sometimes younger generations learn about essential events through film or television rather than school.
06:54 The film "Joan the Maid" directed by Jacques Rivette is a two-part epic that follows the journey of Joan of Arc, with qualities of simplicity and austerity that evoke the Middle Ages on screen without a large budget.
12:35 The film "Joan of Arc" by Bruno Dumont is a strange and musical adaptation of her childhood, with a low budget and villainous portrayal of the English, while "La Reine Margaux" is a revolutionary take on the historical movie genre, with layers of 19th-century ideas and a depiction of Marguerite de Valois as a provocative and violent figure.
18:33 "Ridicule" is a historical comedy of manners and drama set at court in Versailles, focusing on a young nobleman who must compete in witty banter to catch the king's eye and secure funding for his project, and it shatters expectations of a historical drama by being impolite and incredibly sophisticated.
24:49 The film "Napoleon" by Abel Gance is a silent film that was intended to be a six-part epic biopic about Napoleon's life, but due to budget constraints, only a fragment was made, and it features a triptych format that was groundbreaking at the time.
30:42 "Les Enfants du Paradis" is a film made during the German occupation of France, set in 1830s Paris and centered around the world of the theatre, with a melancholic tone reflecting the difficult circumstances of the time.
37:12 "Jacques Hughes" is a French film adaptation of a novel by Robert Harris about the Dreyfus affair, focusing on the story of Georges Picard, an officer who discovers the truth about Alfred Dreyfus.
43:51 "La Grande Illusion" is a 1937 film by Renoir that reflects his own experience as a pilot in World War I.
49:50 "La Grande Illusion" is a humanist anti-war film about French prisoners who escape from German prisons during World War I, highlighting the friendship that develops among them and the class and racial differences they overcome.
55:48 "Le Corbeau" is a film set in a small town during the occupation of France, where people receive poison pen letters that reveal their secrets, serving as a metaphor for the culture of informing and collaboration during that time.
01:01:50 The film "La Grande Vadrouille" is a war film set during the occupation of France, but it focuses more on comedy and stereotypes rather than the actual threat of war or death.
01:07:49 "Les Chinois" is a serious film by Jean-Luc Godard that serves as a premonition of the events of May 68 and explores the behavior of French students forming a Maoist commune in a bourgeois apartment in Paris during the 1960s.
01:13:55 Jean-Luc Godard's film "Les Chinois" is a reactionary adaptation of "The Possessed" that Margaret Thatcher praised as a warning against socialism, showcasing Godard's political ambiguity and irony.
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