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Film Criticism as Cultural Fantasy

The Perpetual French Discovery of Australian Cinema


Andrew McGregor

This book presents an unprecedented analysis of the dynamics of cultural representation and interpretation in film criticism. It examines how French critical reception of Australian cinema since the revival period of the 1970s has evolved as a narrative of perpetual discovery, and how a clear parallel can be drawn between French critics’ reading of Australian film and their interpretation of an exotic Australian national identity. In French critical writing on Australian cinema, Australian identity is frequently defined in terms of extremes of cultural specificity and cultural anonymity. On the one hand, French critics construct a Euro-centric orientalist fantasy of Australia as not only a European Antipodes, but the antithesis of Europe. At the same time, French critics have tended to subordinate Australian cultural identity within the framework of a resented Anglo-American filmic and cultural hegemony. The book further explores this marginalisation by examining the influence of the French auteur paradigm, particularly in reference to the work of Jane Campion, as well as by discussing the increasingly problematic notion of national identity, and indeed national cinemas, within the universal framework of international film culture.


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Table of Contents


Acknowledgements __________________________________ 9 1. Cultural Fantasy _________________________________ 11 The Perpetual French Discovery of an Ever-Emerging Cinema of the Antipodes 2. In the Beginning __________________________________ 25 The Australian Cinema Industry from the Cinématographe to the Revival 3. Points of View ___________________________________ 31 Film Criticism, Film Journals and Press Reviews in France 4. Before the Revival ________________________________ 37 The French Critical Reception of Australian Cinema Pre-1971 5. The New Frontier ________________________________ 41 The French Critical Reception of Australian Cinema 1971-1979 6. Forever Young ___________________________________ 83 The French Critical Reception of Australian Cinema 1980-1984 7. International Icons ________________________________ 157 The French Critical Reception of Australian Cinema 1985-1989 8. Kitsch Stylisation _________________________________ 215 The French Critical Reception of Australian Cinema 1990-1994 9. Perpetual Discovery ______________________________ 241 The French Critical Reception of Australian Cinema 1995-2001 Conclusions _________________________________________ 293 Bibliography ________________________________________ 305 Filmography and Index _______________________________ 313

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