Le film musical francais (Habilitationsprojekt)

Genre, amour et théâtralité

Allgemeine Angaben

Freitag, 01. März 2013
Montag, 29. Februar 2016
Institut für Romanistik, Universität Wien
Thematik nach Sprachen

Aktiv beteiligte Person(en)

(z.B. Kooperation, Mitarbeiter, Fellows)

Renaud Lagabrielle


My research project, which will represent the first existing monograph on this subject, intends to examine French musical films – i.e. films in which the spoken word and the sung word alternate without the latter interrupting the narrative, sometimes accompanied by choreographies – as a genre in its own right within the French cinematic production.

Based on a corpus of sixteen films, the first of which was released in 1967 and the other fifteen between 1986 and 2011, I will first analyze why French musical films are little thought of, in the two senses of the expression: little known, and receiving little recognition, especially by academic and cinematic criticism. My hypothesis is that not only is the genre of the musical film regarded as a popular genre closely linked to Hollywood, but also that comedy and song, which are central in musical films, do not enjoy the cultural legitimacy to make them study objects deserving of serious attention. I also want to demonstrate that the dichotomy between popular cinema and auteur cinema is only rarely applicable for French musical films, as the majority of the latter are works by filmmakers also considered as auteurs; I will show that, far from representing isolated works in the whole of one or another director’s work, these directors’ musical films are in line with the continuity of their cinematic œuvres, whether it is with regard to their work with music or the themes addressed in the films.
A discourse analysis of the films’ paratexts will raise awareness of the discourses at work in the conception of French musical films, a discourse emanating from the directors themselves as well as from the audience and critics. The economic as well as social, cultural, and communicational functions of the films will have to be taken into account, so as to contextualize their production and their reception.
I will then examine the intercultural and intertextual networks within which the films are set, and highlight the interplay of influences, of resonance and dissonance, which exists between the analyzed films and those with which they maintain obvious relations of intramediality. I will emphasize that the North American films may be important models for the French works, but that the latter are strongly influenced by other cinematic cultures as well, above all the Nouvelle Vague, on a semantic as well as on a syntactic level.
These semantic and syntactic features will then be subjected to analysis, and I will propose a systematization and a typology for them. At the heart of this typology is the analysis of those phenomena of intermediality which characterize musical films, whose fundamentally hybrid nature I want to demonstrate. I will stress the multiplicity of relations of intermediality which film, theater, music, song, and dance entertain, and I will point out the different effects produced by these relations – effects that are also produced by the genre and the history of the songs that are used. I want to show that the tension between the natural, realism, the artificial and the fantastic – a tension produced by the entanglement of film, song, and dance – characterizes the French musical film on different levels. The stories which are told in the films are, in fact, stories that are most often set in difficult diegetic contexts, sad or even tragic, but which the filmmakers decide to approach with imagination, joy, lyricism, and lightness. I want to show that the way in which these tensions are staged and narrated represents the films’ dramaturgic and aesthetic richness. The songs, which will also be subjected to a narratological and cantological analysis, are closely linked with the discourses and the representations of love, the latter being a semantic feature which all the examined films have in common. The analysis of these discourses and representations will show that the romantic model of the heterosexual couple, as it has been established in and by the American musicals, is, more or less strongly, reappraised in French musical films which, moreover, do not necessarily offer happy endings and do not consider themselves as simple entertainment.
The analyzed films are furthermore marked by theatricality, which will be examined in a scenographical, dramaturgical, as well as in an anthropological sense. I will focus on camp aesthetics, which characterize the majority of the films, and show how they contribute to discourses critical of the dominant social order depicted in these films.
To conclude, these analyses and reflections will lead me back to the musical film as a specific genre of French cinema. I will show, among other things, that the analyzed films can be linked, in particular owing to their recourse to the song, to the notion of memory and heritage, a notion that is central to the conception of a genre.
The methodological and theoretical “tool kit” I will use for my work is interdisciplinary. I will draw on methods, approaches, and theories from literary criticism – notably narratology and theories on paratext and transtextuality –, film studies, sociology, musicology, dance studies, as well as gender and queer studies.


APART-Stipendium der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften

Ersteller des Eintrags
Renaud Lagabrielle
Donnerstag, 07. März 2013, 11:01 Uhr
Letzte Änderung
Donnerstag, 07. März 2013, 11:01 Uhr