From Prophecy to Pastiche - (Mis)representing May 1968 on Screen: Postmodern Perspectives from Godard to Bertolucci and Hazanavicius

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

Abstract

This paper seeks to engage with depictions in European cinema (including one debatable prediction) of the Paris events of May 1968, offering a comment on their stylistic variety as well as their ostensibly disparate themes before attempting to offer a sketch of their ideological proximity as ‘postmodern’ artefacts. Jean-Luc Godard’s La Chinoise (1967) will, firstly, help to set the context and will be examined for its colourful ‘pop-art’ perspective on the dormant revolutionary fervour in the late1960s milieu of Nanterre University, displaying both its early ‘postmodern’ style and its unlikely prophecy of the events to come. Whilst the more-recent films to be analysed – The Dreamers (Bernardo Bertolucci, 2003) and Le Redoutable (Michel Hazanavicius, 2017) - will also be considered in relation to postmodernist theory but, in particular, to the complimentary notions of ‘nostalgia film’ and ‘historical amnesia’ (Jameson, 1991; 1998) in order to diagnose their ideological function of reducing the May ’68 events in the 21st Century to the harmless, playful and passive images of a seemingly-now-distant past. Bertolucci’s The Dreamers renders the May events as ‘nostalgic’ backdrop to the sexually experimental adventures of a student ménage-à-trois while in Hazanavicius’s Le Redoutable the world-historical upheaval provides the comical context in which the spectacles of a fictive Jean-Luc Godard are continually and repeatedly broken. This paper will argue that it is such a representation – the rendering of the cataclysmic events into purely nostalgic or even comic imagery - which serves to eviscerate the genuinely revolutionary potential of May ’68 and to, instead, repackage it as a merely passive, superficial and, at best, jovial backdrop to fictional narrative. In addition, the events of May ’68 as a specific focus for the historical context of a postmodern cinema proves to be particularly curious as much postmodernist theory has taken as its starting-point the perceived failure of the May ’68 moment. Such a discussion seeks to contribute to, and further enhance, the debate on the complex (or even paradoxical) relationship between postmodernism and
History.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusSubmitted - 2018
Event6th International Conference on History and Cinema: Images of the Revolutions of 1968 - Universitat de Barcelona , Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 18 Jun 201820 Jun 2018
https://europeanmemories.net/events/6th-international-conference-history-cinema-images-revolutions-1968/

Conference

Conference6th International Conference on History and Cinema: Images of the Revolutions of 1968
Country/TerritorySpain
CityBarcelona
Period18/06/1820/06/18
Internet address

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'From Prophecy to Pastiche - (Mis)representing May 1968 on Screen: Postmodern Perspectives from Godard to Bertolucci and Hazanavicius'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this