Paperback / softback
June 4, 2024
9780253069597
English
258
87 color illus., 50 b&w illus.
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
$38.00 USD, £30.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference
Hardback
June 4, 2024
9780253069580
English
258
87 color illus., 50 b&w illus.
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
$80.00 USD, £62.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

The Ethnographic Optic

Jean Rouch, Chris Marker, Alain Resnais, and the Turn Inward in 1960s French Cinema

The Ethnographic Optic traces the surprising role of ethnography in French cinema in the 1960s and examines its place in several New Wave fictions and cinéma vérité documentaries during the final years of the French colonial empire.

Focusing on prominent French filmmakers Jean Rouch, Chris Marker, and Alain Resnais, author Laure Astourian elucidates their striking pivot from centering their work on distant lands to scrutinizing their own French urban culture. As awareness of the ramifications of the shrinking empire grew within metropolitan France, these filmmakers turned inward what their similarly white, urban, bourgeois predecessors had long turned outward toward the colonies: the ethnographic gaze.

Featuring some of the most canonical and best-loved films of the French tradition, such as Breathless and La Jetée, this is an essential book for readers interested in national identity and cinema.

About the Author

Laure Astourian is Associate Professor of French at Bentley University.

Reviews

"The Ethnographic Optic provides ways of seeing and thinking about a moment of French cinema we might otherwise mistake as settled. Sharpening focus on the inward turn of the ethnographic gaze in nonfiction and narrative cinema, Astourian meticulously examines the contradictions and turbulent energies of historical traumas, colonialist legacies, existential crises, and political possibilities at play in the work of Jean Rouch, Chris Marker, Alain Resnais, and their broader media ecologies. This is not just a significant contribution to cinema studies, but a brilliant work of cultural and intellectual history."—James Leo Cahill, author of Zoological Surrealism: The Nonhuman Cinema of Jean Painlevé

"This book, in the company of Rouch, Marker, and Resnais, makes us rediscover an incredibly daring moment in cinema. Laure Astourian captures all the spicy, subtle flavor of this encounter between ethnography and politics, between a cinema made by a few and a Parisian public opinion that was passionate about concepts like cinéma vérité and direct cinema. Fascinating and invigorating."—Antoine de Baecque, author of Camera Historica: The Century in Cinema

"The Ethnographic Optic is a significant text. Astourian's scholarship builds upon solid historical and critical sources and then applies a productive ethnographic perspective to reinvigorate the study of these important directors and their cultural contexts. Her approach connects larger issues of colonialism and the dissolution of the empire with shifts within documentary and fiction filmmaking alike during this era. The book also confronts issues of trauma, torture, and consumerism within a cluster of films that have never been examined together, much less from this perspective... This should be a very useful and even intriguing book."—Richard Neupert, author of French Film History, 1895-1946

"While early cinematic ethnographers travelled to distant colonies or to the French rural hinterlands, film-makers like Rouch, Resnais, Marker, and, to a lesser extent, Varda, turned their lenses inward and made of the urban French themselves for the first time a properly ethnographic subject. Impeccably researched, The Ethnographic Optic captures and boldly reconfigures this moment in mid-century French film-making, offering striking insights into the profound effects on both cultural production and national identity of the end of empire."—Kristin Ross, author of The Politics and Poetics of Everyday Life

 

9780253069597 : the-ethnographic-optic-astourian
Paperback / softback
June 4, 2024
$38.00 USD
9780253069580 : the-ethnographic-optic-astourian
Hardback
June 4, 2024
$80.00 USD

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