A Word from the Editor
In this issue, Sandrine Sanos tackles one of this season’s biopics, Violette, which follows the career of Violette Leduc from the Occupation to 1964 when she nearly won the Prix Goncourt. Martin Provost, the film’s director, constructed his narrative around the “making of a writer,” through Leduc’s encounters with Maurice Sachs, Simone de Beauvoir, and Jean Genet. Somewhat mystified by what she views as a reductive interpretation of Leduc, Sandrine Sanos provides us with a broader context within which to appreciate this path-breaking novelist.
In his review of Olivier Assayas’s Après mai, renamed Something in the Air for English-speaking audiences, Daniel Gordon explains the legacy of May 68 to teenagers in 1971 as they develop their own form of militancy. Gordon sorts out for us the groupuscules to which they adhered, and the cultural changes that a mere three years had brought. Assayas’s autobiographical film, he argues, provides more insights into radical youthful engagement than recent films on May 68 that have privileged sexual liberation.
In our Classics in the Classroom section, Alex Fairfax-Cholmeley takes a look at the 1989 film and mini-series La Révolution française, now available on YouTube in a subtitled version. This makes the sprawling saga available for potential use in the classroom. Rather than fastening on the series’ weaknesses, Fairfax-Cholmeley explains what segments might offer interesting discussions, especially alongside other sources. These are not necessarily revolutionary incidents in-and-of themselves but include the film’s meticulous recreation of iconic revolutionary images or the depiction of printers’ workshops. I would go farther than our reviewer in suggesting that however clumsy (or inaccurate) by moments, almost any of the vignettes can serve that purpose. The question remains, as Fairfax-Cholmeley points out, whether such visual reconstitutions offer sufficient fodder for thought.
University at Buffalo, SUNY