Transitioning Out of the Great War through Cinema

Self-Reflection and Distancing in L'Atlantide (1921) by Jacques Feyder

in French Politics, Culture & Society
Author:
Leïla EnnaïliCentral Michigan University, USA ennai1l@cmich.edu

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Abstract

This article contributes to the discussions about the ways in which societies phase out (or not) of long periods of war by focusing on Jacques Feyder's film L'Atlantide (Queen of Atlantis) (1921) through the perspective of the challenges France faced after World War I. I argue that carefully crafted entertainment products such as L'Atlantide contributed to a slow “demobilization” of the mind in France. A distancing/reflecting mechanism at the heart of the film is twofold: it tackles fundamental changes brought about by the war, such as the degree of violence that permeated society, while providing the escapism of a colonial backdrop. This analysis proposes to read L'Atlantide as a text symptomatic of a time when World War I was in everyone's mind and when it had yet to be “digested.”

Contributor Notes

Leïla Ennaïli is Professor of French Studies at Central Michigan University. She specializes in literary and cinematic representations of France, immigration narratives, border studies, and contemporary French literature. Email: ennai1l@cmich.edu | https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8957-6027

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