From the very first films by the Lumière brothers, French cinema has been perceived as tending towards the real; but there’s an alternative tradition that also stretches back to the dawn of cinema – that of the fantastique. It incorporates elements of fantasy, horror and science fiction into bizarre, atmospheric tales in which the unexplained and the supernatural intrude into reality. From the magical illusions of Georges Méliès, the fantastique flourished again during the German occupation, reached poetic heights in the films of Jean Cocteau and Georges Franju, found parallel expressions in Belgium, and was revitalised in the post-New Wave 1970s and beyond.
Taking in fairy tales, horror and science fiction, the marvellous and the strange, the dreamlike and the uncanny, Le Cinéma fantastique is a French filmic tradition ripe for rediscovery. In this talk, I trace its development from Georges Méliès to Lucile Hadžihalilović, looking at the influence of Surrealism, the wartime golden age and the experiments of the 1970s, up to the present day.
Le fantastique: A Curious Tour of the French Weird
Speaker: Virginie Sélavy
Dates: 25 October 2018
Venue: BFI Southbank, London
Tickets go on on sale at 11.30am on 25 September 2018
Photo credit: Et mourir de plaisir (Blood and Roses, 1960)