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Appears in Collections:Literature and Languages Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Of Cones and Pyramids: Deleuzian Film Theory and Historical Memory
Author(s): Marshall, Bill
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Issue Date: Nov-2010
Date Deposited: 10-Dec-2012
Citation: Marshall B (2010) Of Cones and Pyramids: Deleuzian Film Theory and Historical Memory. In: Rothberg M, Sanyal D & Silverman M (eds.) Noeuds de mémoire: Multidirectional Memory in Postwar French and Francophone Culture. Yale French Studies, 118/119. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, pp. 191-208.
Series/Report no.: Yale French Studies, 118/119
Abstract: First paragraph: Three instances (two cinematic and one that I shall call proto-cinematic) illustrate both the stakes at play in, and the different forms taken by, relations of memory in postwar France. Near the beginning of Passage du milieu/Middle Passage, a drama documentary made in 2001 by the Martinican filmmaker Guy Deslauriers and co-scripted by Patrick Chamoiseau, the omniscient narrator, both individualized victim of the Atlantic slave trade and embodiment of all slaves and their descendants, invokes in now familiar language the analogy between that trade and Nazi genocide. Notwithstanding the rich and complex potentiality located in the juxtaposed and mutually informing discussion of anti-Semitism and colonial racism that is explored by commentators such as Paul Gilroy and Michael Rothberg, such a reference here may be characterized as an ideological claim made within some national or transnational public sphere via competing ethno-social memories. In the 2005 French action film Banlieue 13, directed by Pierre Morel with a script by Luc Besson and Bibi Naceri, two young French heroes, a policeman and a "marginal," confront both criminal elements and a corrupt, futuristic French state that is plotting the physical elimination of the inhabitants of the eponymous urban district, which has been surrounded by a wall for years, its two million inhabitants left to rot. The historical memory that is invoked, by the police captain in one of the film's not-infrequent "political" discussions between the two men, is that of the Holocaust ("six million have already been killed on the grounds they weren't blond with blue eyes"). The opposition between republicanism and fascism constitutes a safe and tidy reference: this is the Warsaw ghetto (created by the Other) rather than the much more ambivalent memories of the colonial city or even apartheid (Fanon: "The town belonging to the colonized people, or at least the native town . . . is a place of ill fame, peopled bymen of evil repute. They are born there, it matters little where or how; they die there, itmatters not where, not how.") This is a classic ideological operation in the Althusserian sense, as the contemporary French republican edifice is naturalized by an imaginary relation to the real, helped along by a dose of what Roland Barthes refers to as inoculation.
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