This article builds on recent scholarship on the European road movie, focusing on Francophone Belgian road films that engage with issues of citizenship and personal, national, and transnational identities. The relationship of these films to the process of identity reformulation within new European parameters is examined, using four films from the past decade as case studies: Eldorado (Bouli Lanners, 2008), L'iceberg (Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy, 2005), Quand la mer monte/When the Sea Rises (Jeanne Moreau and Gilles Porte, 2004), and Les folles aventures de Simon Konianski/Simon Konianski (Micha Wald, 2008). Despite the limited scale of its territory, this article contends that Belgium's complex make-up and status as a post-colonial “melting pot“ provides the ideal laboratory for cinematic identity quests. While anchored in a distinctively Belgian context, these films demonstrate that national boundaries are no longer an adequate container for identities in contemporary Europe. Particular focus is paid to the ways by which each film employs and distorts the traditional road movie template to stage voyages into citizenship.
The Paradoxes and Possibilities of the Francophone Belgian Road Movie
Drive as an Ambivalent Urban Road Movie
Drive (U.S.A., 2011, FilmDistrict, Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Screenplay, Hossein Amini, based on the book by James Sallis. With Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks).
Tracking Automotive Speed, Economic Acceleration, and the Roots of European Road Movies in Il sorpasso
Il sorpasso, Italy, 1962; Mario Cecchi Gori (producer); Dino Risi (director), Dino Risi, Ettore Scola, and Ruggero Maccari (screenplay); starring Vittorio Gassman and Jean-Louis Trintignant. 2014 DVD release by the Criterion Collection includes new English subtitle translation, interviews, essays, excerpts of a documentary, and an introduction by filmmaker Alexander Payne.