The French reception of British cinema
French writings on British cinema have tended, and continue, to be dominated by one single figure. Director Francois Truffaut's famous dismissal of British cinema has become a standard reference. The systematic repetition of his critique has worked to produce an official story that has become emblematic of the French perspective on British cinema. Yet to date the subject has received little scholarly attention beyond Truffaut. This study documents in depth the French reception of British cinema in the post-war period and relies extensively on the use of archives and research into primary sources including unpublished historical documents and the use of oral sources. These are supplemented by secondary materials such as survey histories of cinema, national film histories, anthologies of film criticism and biographies of film critics and film journals. The thesis is divided into four chapters that relate to four distinct historical periods from the immediate post-war years up to the late 1990s. In each of the chapters I relocate critical texts and ideas within the historical conjuncture from which they have emerged. In the process, the thesis uncovers positive readings of British cinema and thus redresses the historiography that has characterised the representation of the French perspective as uniformly negative. The central argument of this thesis centres on an examination of critical writings as inverted discourses on French cinema. Considering contemporary reviews as a prism through which the identity of French cinema may be articulated or refracted, I show that the discourses of auteurism and realism have played a key role in the debates around cinema and thus in the critical construction of British cinema. I conclude that the French reception of British cinema must be understood as an articulation of anxieties, concerns and struggles around the identity of French cinema itself.