identity Vs. Imagined Communities: The lure of the Unknown

This essay was part of a series I wrote which focused on cinematic depictions of a modern Europe struggling to deal with a new-found pan-Europeanism. In it, I wanted to explore Bendict Anderson’s theories on ‘Imagined Communities’ through the personal crises of identity experienced by two young Western European men as they interact with and incorporate non-traditional identities – as depicted in Gadjo Dilo and The Spanish Apartment. Interestingly, note that both Xavier and Stephane are played by the same French actor – Romain Duris – probably due to his awesome hair (see below).

Benedict Anderson has described national cultural identities as ‘imagined communities’. Explore the concepts of ‘place’ and ‘displacement’ in relation to an imaginary ‘home’. How does such displacement affect our understanding of national and European cultural identity?

Gadjo Dilo (Tony Gatlif, 1998) and The Spanish Apartment (Cédric Clapish, 2002) explore the effects and processes exerted on identity when it is ‘displaced’ from an imaginary ‘home’ to a new, unknown ‘place’. Through the experiences of both Xavier and Stephane, the films offer insight as to the personal, national and cultural actualities that exist on the outskirts of what Benedict Anderson calls ‘imagined communities’. A framework for the inspection of the themes present in Gadjo Dilo and The Spanish Apartment will be provided by first expanding on Anderson’s taxonomy of nations, allowing for a clearer classification of the notion of ‘imagined communities’. Next, cinema theory will be called upon to explore the idea of the other in the form of the abject, and how this relates to both films. In addition, the linguistic interplay present in both films will be explored to highlight how cultural identities are based upon language differences. Ultimately allowing for a investigation into the struggle for an individual, non-aligned identity by Western Europe’s young adults, as portrayed by Xavier and Stephane.
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Le Temps Vs. Les Douleurs

This essay was written as part of a French Cinema subject in early 2010. In it, I wanted to explore the changing depictions of war in French cinema as it came to terms with the terrible events that form part of the French post-colonial and war-time subconscious. Hiroshima Mon Amour deals with French post-WWII collaborationist guilt, while Indigènes focuses on the ongoing mistreatment of the colonial French armed forces that fought in WWII.

Les thèmes de la guerre et du conflit dans Hiroshima Mon Amour et Indigènes.

“Le temps guérit douleurs et querelles” – Pascal
Séparés par cinquante ans, Hiroshima mon amour d’Alain Resnais et Indigènes de Rachid Bouchareb nous semblent, au début, être tout à fait différents dans la façon dont ils traitent les thèmes de la guerre et du conflit. Par exemple, Hiroshima mon amour ne nous présente aucune image de bataille pendant le déroulement de son histoire. En revanche, Indigènes ne présente que des batailles.
Néanmoins, en cherchant un fil commun entre les deux films, il paraît qu’il y en a plusieurs. Focalisés sur les aspects humains d’une guerre, les deux films privilègient une interpellation des conséquences psychologiques causer par des moments traumatisants. Cette dissertation expliquera comment et pourquoi les deux réalisateurs ont choisi d’élargir certains éléments de leurs histoires, leurs personnages et leur cinématographie pour traiter des thèmes de la guerre et du conflit. Continue reading