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Picture of Jewish Identity in French Cinema (1950-2010)

Jewish Identity in French Cinema (1950-2010)

Author(s): Serge Bokobza
Subjects: Religion , French Studies

Book Description

This book examines the expression of a Jewish identity in French films and the characteristics used by filmmakers to portray this nebulous concept in movies produced after the Shoah and World War II. Throughout a sixty-year span, French directors struggled to define Jewish identity and a correlation with the larger question of French national identity. The study delves into the larger question of Jewish identity as characterised in works of cinematic fiction in accordance with the history of the Jews of France, using the centrality of the emancipation paradigm of 1791 and the theoretical frame provided by Jean-Paul Sartre’s Réflexions sur la question juive.

The book identifies and describes three categories of films produced between 1950 and 2010 that represent the manner in which directors portrayed an evolving Jewish identity and its relation to French society, rejecting the practice of labeling a film as “Jewish” because of the ethnicity of a director or writer. Based on extensive research including the review of over 200 full-length films, the book provides an overview of features addressing the concept of Jewish identity and includes a Descriptive Filmography of productions matching the author’s definition of a Jewish-identity film. From the template La Grande Illusion to contemporary releases, the book argues that French Jewish-identity films dwell in the sociological realm of Jewishness, as the epicenter of tension is rooted in identity rather than religion.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-8681-9
ISBN-10: 1-4438-8681-5
Date of Publication: 01/02/2016
Pages / Size: 220 / A5
Price: £47.99


Serge Bokobza is Professor of French and Cinema Studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Alabama, USA, where he teaches 19th and 20th-century French Civilization and World Films. His publications encompass a broad range of literary and cultural topics and include a book on Stendhal, Variations sur le titre “Le Rouge et le Noir”(Droz), and essays on the theory of titles, the law of gender equity, liberty versus equality, and novelist Paul Nizan. His contributions to film studies include articles on Jewish identity in French cinema and the films of Stanley Kubrick. He co-produced the award winning 58-minute documentary Léon Blum: for all Mankind, distributed by First Run Pictures, and wrote and narrated the short film Les Rois de l’eau. Dr Bokobza was awarded Les Palmes académiques by the French government and the Prix d’excellence by the AATF (Alabama). He chaired the UAB Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures from 2011 to 2014 and has served as President of the Alliance française of Birmingham since 1984.