Once Upon a Film

What is French cinema? The spring romances of Rohmer? The revolutions of Godard? Beur cinema from […] Read more

What is French cinema? The spring romances of Rohmer? The revolutions of Godard? Beur cinema from the suburbs? Working class life with Jean Gabin? Or the lyricism of Renoir or Bresson? From this vast garden of delights, Cine Fan explores yet another magical tradition of cinema – the fairy tale brought to life. Not with the sugar of Disney but with the irony and invention that makes older themes new, fresh, and attractive to masters of French cinema. Where elements of magic and duplicity, imagination and morality, poetry and romance commingle in unforgettable visions of life and love.

And why not? In the 17th century Charles Perrault’s Tales of Mother Goose transformed French folk tales into some of the most beloved and widely-shared stories of world literature – Cinderella , Little Red Riding Hood , Sleeping Beauty , Bluebeard , Puss in Boots ; Beauty and the Beast followed in 1740 from the pen Gabrielle- Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. Such stories, once told around hearths and at bedsides, inspired later novels, art, ballets, operas feeries and films, just as soon as Georges Melies changed the world with his cinematic magic. Yet, as always, these narratives came with French twists and reflection as well as cinematic flights of fancy. But these are not stories for children…

In this series, the filmic poetry of surrealist master Jean Cocteau shows how the magic of film could meet the magic of the imagination in a tale told through images as much as words. Rene Clair weaves dreams of love into a ballet of sleep, history and reality while more sardonic questions of fables and outcomes are embodied in Luis Bunuel’s wry vision of the bourgeois universe. Directors project fantasy worlds into space – Laloux – or reduce fables to their metaphoric bones, as did master Louis Malle. And even take romance back into Druidic history, as Eric Rohmer did in his rarely-seen final film. Come along as we join in their magical mystery tours.

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