French Cinema: A Very Short Introduction opens up French cinema by focusing on some of its most notable works, using the lens of the New Wave decade (1958–1968) that changed cinema worldwide. Exploring the entire French cinematic repertoire, Koerner Fellow Dudley Andrew teases out distinguishing themes, tendencies, and lineages, to bring what is most crucial about French cinema into focus. He discusses how style has shaped the look of female stars and film form alike, analyzing the “made-up” aesthetic of many films, and the paradoxical penchant for French cinema to cruelly unmask surface beauty in quests for authenticity. Discussing how French cinema as a whole pits strong-willed characters against auteurs with high-minded ideas of film art, fueled by French cinema’s close rapport with literature, painting, and music, Professor Andrew considers how the New Wave emerged from these struggles, becoming an emblem of ambition for cinema that persists today. He goes on to show how the values promulgated by the New Wave directors brought the three decades that preceded it into focus, and explores the deep resonance of those values today, fifty years later.
Dudley Andrew, the R. Selden Rose Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature and professor emeritus of film studies, studied English and philosophy, then learned filmmaking before getting in on the ground floor just as film studies was taking off in the U.S. His dissertation on film theorist André Bazin has funded several of his books and has spurred his several visits to France, where he wrote two extensive histories of 1930s culture during the Popular Front era. Professor Andrew taught comparative literature and cinema studies at Iowa for years, directing the dissertations of many of today’s leaders in film. Coming to Yale in 2000, he chaired Comp Lit from 2009 to 2013. He has worked with graduate students primarily on the French literary and philosophical milieu, or on issues that cross between cinema and literature (aesthetics, translation, hermeneutics, critical theory, world literature/cinema). He has taught undergraduate courses in world cinema and in adaptation, as well as seminars related to the work of Bazin, whose writings he continues to edit in English translation. Professor Andrew provides a link to French film history from personal encounters with Truffaut, Renoir, Resnais, Rohmer, and other key figures. He is a “commandeur de l’ordre des arts et des lettres,” a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.
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