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Title: Autopia : space, movement and identity in the French road film since 1968
Author: Archer, N.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis argues that, in the years since 1968, the road film has played a significant part in French cinematic culture. Against much criticism which has tended to view the road film merely as an imported American genre, I argue for its specificity and pertinence to this modern French context. Central to this reading is a conception of the road film as expressing what I describe as autopia. Acknowledging Foucault’s concept of the heterotopia, the autopia of the road film represents the perfected but unrealisable no-place of the utopia, and at the same time, the often dystopian movement of individual rebellion and social fragmentation. The thesis situates the road film as a particular tendency within French cinematic production; and in turn, one through which broader cultural and political concerns may be read. 1968, and more particularly its contested historical legacy, forms the core for this thesis. I argue that the autopia of the French road film is in part determined by the perceived utopian ‘failure’ of May ’68, yet a failure that we see constantly revived and re-explored in these films. My introduction locates the road film in its immediate pre- and post-’68 context, with a focus on new forms of cinematic space and identity. Chapters one and two address the place of the individual within the community, and the attendant, problematic questions of liberty and identification as filmic properties. Chapter three considers a body of road films relating to men and work, focusing on the condition of masculinity within modern capitalism; while chapter four, in response, considers the viability of a ‘feminine’ road film, looking at a new kind of road film pertinent to contemporary concerns. Chapter five takes up the concerns of chapter four to think about the role of the modern travel film, considering the situation of modern France within a transnational world.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available