Michael Leonard

Surrealist Motifs and the Narrative Turn in Philippe Garrel's Post-underground Cinema

Year: 2014

Keywords: , ,


Queens University Belfast
(at time of presentation)

Personal profile:

Michael Leonard completed his PhD in Film and Visual Studies at Queen’s University Belfast in 2013, which focused on the work of the French film-maker Philippe Garrel. He is currently working as a lecteur at the Université Paris-Sorbonne in France. Michael is particularly interested in theorising the relationship between cinema and politics, and other current research areas of interest include the cinema and cultural politics of Guy Debord and the Situationists.



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Philippe Garrel is one of the most significant directors among a heterogeneous group of film-makers that emerged in France in the mid 1960s, designated with the term ‘post-Nouvelle Vague’ by Gilles Deleuze. In his early years Garrel was associated with political dissidence, bound to the formal experimentation of his cinema, and he was strongly influenced by the events of May ’68. However, following a decade of underground experimentation in the 1970s, he turned towards what he himself has termed a narrative period, marked by a less austere style and codes more familiar with mainstream cinema. This paper will consider the significance of the shift that took place in Garrel’s cinema in the 1980s. In particular, it will ask whether the change signifies a conservative development, or if aspects of Garrel’s post-underground work point to a continued engagement. Central to this question will be a consideration of the relationship between his later cinema and Surrealism.