Pays des brumes

The Persistence of Poetic Realism in French Cinema of the Occupation

in Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques
Author: Barry Nevin1
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Abstract

Whereas the aesthetics and politics of poetic realism in French prewar cinema have been analyzed in depth, the extent to which poetic realism persisted in French cinema of the Occupation and the textual space that it created for spectators within this cultural context remain comparatively neglected. Responding to this critical oversight, this article analyzes Christian-Jaque's Voyage sans espoir (1943) and Jean Grémillon's Lumière d'été from three perspectives: first, it evinces iconography in each that was central to the 1930s poetic realist films directed by figures such as Marcel Carné, Jean Renoir, and Jacques Feyder; second, it illustrates how poetic realism's characteristic focus on gender was reconfigured during the Occupation; third, it determines how these aesthetic and social aspects spoke to French society under occupation. This article ultimately argues that poetic realist praxis persisted during the war years and constituted a major vector of resistance against German rule and the Vichy government.

Contributor Notes

Barry Nevin is Lecturer in French at Technological University Dublin. His research centers on French cinema of the 1930s, primarily the films of Jean Renoir, Marcel Carné, and Jacques Feyder. He is the author of Cracking Gilles Deleuze's Crystal: Narrative Space-time in the Films of Jean Renoir (Edinburgh University Press, 2018) and his research has previously appeared in a range of journals including French Studies, Film History, Studies in French Cinema, and French Cultural Studies. He is currently writing a book-length analysis of Feyder's films. Email: barbarianjay@gmail.com