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Motion Pictures

Travel Ideals in Film


Edited By Gemma Blackwood and Andrew McGregor

This volume examines representations and explorations of travel ideals in contemporary international cinema. It assembles work from a diverse range of academic fields including anthropology, sociology, ethnography, cinema, culture, tourism, communication and language studies, with contributions from international experts such as Mary Louise Pratt of New York University, whose work on ‘contact zones’ continues to provide the framework for scholarship on travel writing around the world. The volume explores the link between filmed spaces and real locations, with one of the fundamental dynamics being the investigation of filmmaking itself, and in particular the notion that cultural authenticity may be sought and found by filming ‘on location’. Also examined are the notions of fantasy and exoticism that arise through an idealisation of the locations themselves and their transformational impact on the protagonists who travel there. Such is the impact of motion pictures on contemporary culture that these travel ideals in film will inevitably influence our understanding of cities, regions, nations and cultures; indeed, the world around us and our role in it.
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Chapter Four: Road Movie in Reverse or Perpetual Exile? The Mirage of the ‘Return’ in Tony Gatlif’s Exils (2004)




Road Movie in Reverse or Perpetual Exile? The Mirage of the ‘Return’ in Tony Gatlif’s Exils (2004)

This chapter will explore the cultural resonance in France of Tony Gatlif’s Exils (2004). It will argue that while the film represents, on the one hand, a conventional return to cultural origins for the film’s protagonists and also for Gatlif – who returned to his native Algeria for the first time in forty-three years – it may also be read as a representation of a permanent or perpetual exile for the protagonists and for many of those engaged in the migrant journey. It will be argued that the title of the film, while nominally foregrounding the notion of exile, still remains ambiguous in the context of the narrative and its political themes. Despite the return-to-origins and the presence of many identifiable conventions of the road movie genre, the constant movement that occurs in the film through travel, music and dance seems only to reinforce the permanent dislocation of the protagonists, and I argue that there is no clear sense of arrival, or even of departure, evident in the film.

On the one hand, Exils may be read as a road movie in reverse. It could be considered a deliberate shift by the director, and by the film’s protagonists, away from the traditional ‘centre’ of French consciousness – Paris – to the periphery of French national historical consciousness – Algeria. In so doing, Gatlif suggests that in...

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