The World of French Films

Ana Tunberg, SNHU Intern

 

Please be advised: 

The movies discussed in this article contain scenes of violence and mature content and are meant for mature audiences.

 

Movies at our fingertips

The film industry continues to rapidly expand and evolve.  With the rise of streaming services and technology such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu (just to name a few!) viewers all over the globe can access more international films than ever before. This ease of access has made international and foreign films more popular than ever, including French films!

The Francophone world is wide and varied.  Each of the 80+ French speaking countries has a unique culture and stories to share.  As such, it is impossible to encapsulate all French films in one category.  So, let’s take a peek behind the curtain, or in this case behind the screen, at three recent films to get a taste of the world of French cinema.  Perhaps you will discover a gem for your next movie night (or two… or three…)! 

Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu

The 2019 award-winning drama, Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire), is a historical romance set in Victorian France.  It tells the story of a love affair between two women- an aristocrat named Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) and a painter named Marianne (Noémie Merlant).

Héloïse, who does not want to marry, refuses to sit for her wedding portrait.  Her mother therefore commissions Marianne, who poses as a companion for Héloïse, to paint the wedding portrait in secret.  The film uses art as a love language between the two women and the painting carries a symbolic meaning of deep emotions and desires throughout the film.  It immerses the audience in the characters, their relationship, the setting, and everything in between.

The players

 

Adèle Haenel (Héloïse) is a talented and decorated actress who has garnered several nominations.  She has won two César Awards and a Lumières Award as well as accolades at several film festivals.

Noémie Merlant (Marianne) gives a breakout performance in this film for which she received a César Award nomination and won the Lumières Award for best Actress.

Céline Sciamma (writer & director), received several accolades with Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu. The film won the Queer Palm, which is an accomplishment in and of itself, making Sciamma the first woman in history to receive this award. Sciamma also received the Best Screenplay award at the Cannes Film Festival for this film.

Overall, this cathartic historical drama is well worth the watch!

Elle

Adapted from the Novel “Oh…” by Philippe Djian, Elle is a fast-paced film that goes beyond a story of revenge.  This 2016 award-winning thriller/drama is directed by Paul Verhoeven, has a strong female lead and a killer plot. It will definitely prick the minds of all its viewers.

The Plot

When a video game company CEO, Michèle Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert) is sexually assaulted by a stranger, she does not report it to the police and takes matters into her own hands. The hunt and the characters become more complex as the story moves along, and the psychological thriller aspect of the film comes into play as we follow Michèle on her chase towards avengement.

This film delivers several successful motifs, such as the strong, successful, and determined female character, and the mystery of seeking retribution through a wild chase that constantly flips the roles of predator and prey. Not only does the film present these motifs, but the film also goes even deeper with their meaning to this specific film that gives the audience a lot to think about.

The Star

Isabelle Huppert, considered one of the best actresses of this time, has earned several awards, including the César Award for Best Actress for her role in Elle.

Elle was nominated for many awards including several film festivals.  At the César Awards, Elle earned the prize for Best Film and the award for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes.

This film will not disappoint viewers in giving them quite a ride. 

Antigone

 Antigone is a 2019 French-Canadian film written and directed by Sophie Deraspe.  This gripping, refreshing, and award-winning drama adapts the old play of ancient Greece to the challenges of the modern world to create an artistic look at politics and immigration, and the strength of character and relationships behind these real-world issues.

Refugees from Kabylia called the Hipponomes, Antigone (Nahéma Ricci) and her family live in Québec.   Antigone is a straight A student who looks after her more troubled brother Polynice (Rawad El-Zein), who is at risk of being deported. 

 

A Greek Tragedy

Even those familiar with the source material will be surprised by this adaptation as viewers who have never even heard of the Ancient Greek drama. While the movie follows similar plot points and centers on the idea of a woman going against the rules for the greater good, the entire premise of the film changes to a more modern adaptation.  The story focuses on current issues regarding immigrant families and feminism, while also delving into the characters and family dynamics.  This creates an educational, empowering, and artistic film that reaches as many hearts as the original play did.

Accolades

Garnering several nominations, Antigone received the Canadian Screen Award for Best Motion Picture, and Deraspe received the Canadian Screen Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Nahéma Ricci is a young, talented actress whose star is on the rise.  She won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Actress.

Antigone is a unique and successful adaptation that will impact a variety of viewers. 

Movie Time!

Films are a great way to look into a culture and to educate yourself.  I therefore encourage you, dear reader, to indulge in the art of the screen while watching international films.   Take advantage to the access and availability of French films. Bring the world home with just one click.

 

The Styles of Post-Impressionist Art

Angelina Iosso,
SNHU Intern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post-Impressionist art started as a backlash to the unstructured paintings that were prevalent during the Impressionist period. Post-Impressionist art takes the vibrant colors and ideas that the art community was used to in the Impressionist movement and transformed them into a new style by focusing on the structure of the piece rather than the style. This isn’t to say that all pieces from the period were inherently realist. Different artists were still able to put their own personal touch on their artwork and created their own niche in the style, and even influenced other artists to follow their model. Nevertheless, all of the post-Impressionist paintings were alike because they had key artistic aesthetics that set them apart from other movements.  Each artist was able to explore their own styles through the movement because of the acceptance that was had for new forms of art during this period. Eventually, some of the different styles branched off into being key points of their own movements. Veering away from the Impressionist style and embracing the new in post-Impressionist helped the art world continue growing and ever evolving.

Paul Cézanne

Paul Cezanne was the father of the post-Impressionist movement. His paintings focus on vibrant structure. Breaking away from the wispy designs of the Impressionist style and embracing the new structure created a catalyst in the French art world and gave other artists the confidence to try new styles within their art as well. His work was also a beginning in stirring the style of Cubism and Fauvism. Cezanne stepped away from the norm of Impressionism and was able to explore darker tones in a still vibrant and structured way. One of his most famous painting locations was at Mont Sainte-Victoire, which sheltered Cezanne’s hometown. Undeniably a landscape painting, the shadows and shapes seen throughout the many different versions of Cezanne’s famous paintings show the stylistic choices that make each painting unique for the viewer.

 

Paintings by Cézanne

 

Paul Gaugin

Still Life with Three Puppies

Paul Gaugin was another important member of the Post Impressionist movement. Gaugin was also one of the first famous artists to travel far to capture the essence of his paintings.  He studied primitivism and wanted to capture that within his art. His paintings were influential to many members of the art community because of his vibrant use of color, flat planes, and distorted style. In his painting “Still Life with Three Puppies,” the distortion of his style is seen in the two dimensional cups and dogs drinking from the bowl. Even though Gaugin was untrained his unique style and subject matter created a lasting impact on the movement and the future of art history. His pieces had such a vibrant style and impact that they created a lot of stirring in the artistic community of Paris. Gaugin eventually permanently moved to Tahiti in the continuation of focusing on creating art in his unique style.

 

Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse had a similar distorted style but focused on abstract subjects. While Paul Gaugin was not fully accepted in the artistic community of Paris, Henri Matisse was. He is still a leading figure in modern art because of his fantastic use of color and personal style. His work also led the way into Fauvism and played a huge role in modern art. The piece below is called The Green Line. Matisse painted this portrait of his wife in an untraditional way by changing the shading away from the norm. He experimented in a lot of his work and was not scared to step out of the status quo in pursuit of his art. This is one of the key themes of post-Impressionist art.

Georges Seurat

Georges Seurat was another member of the Post Impressionism movement who had a revolutionary impact on art throughout history. Seurat used an intricate style of pointillism to create the structure in his pieces. Pointillism is a painting technique where tiny dots are used in specific patterns to form an image. George Seurat was one of the first people to capitalize on this technique and do it professionally. Here is an example close up of the composition of his painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.”  The dots throughout created a mystical but structured complete design.  Below is the full painting, created all just through a series of dotted patterns!

 

 

 

The Post Impressionist movement was a way for artists to expand their repertoire and embrace art in all of it’s unique forms. By embracing these new styles, the artists created their own niche in art history and for some even led to new movements of art with others embracing the new technique. Paul Cezanne stepped away from Impressionism and in doing so paved the way for others to be even more adventurous than him with their artistic expression. Paul Gaugin spent his life studying new cultures to create unique art. Henri Matisse spent his career finding and embracing his own style, which eventually led into the embrace of Fauvism by the next generation of artists. George Seurat even coined his own movement, Pointillism, and style by taking a risk and studying the intricacy to patterns and light in his paintings. The different styles of Post Impressionism show how important stepping out of a comfort zone is for an artist and for future artists to study.

Musée du Louvre

Chloe Rich,
SNHU Intern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Musée du Louvre is the world’s largest art museum and holds some of the most famous pieces of art. On August 10th, the Louvre Museum will celebrate its 228th year as a museum and on September 11th, Laurence des Cars will be the first woman director of the Louvre. Before opening as an art museum in 1793, the Louvre functioned as a royal palace for more than two centuries. In the year 1546, King Francis I demolished a 12th-century fortress on the land and began construction of a palace that became his residence. 

The Louvre Fortress in 12th Century, built by King Philippe Auguste via My Modern Met

 

King Francis I was a known art collector, causing the palace to double as a house for the King’s collected work, including works by Michaelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. King Francis built a small portion of the Louvre Palace, with construction and expansion continuing under King Henry II, Charles IX, Louis XIV, and almost every subsequent monarch after. With every new monarch came a larger collection of artwork, creating the collection we can see today at the museum. 

 

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci at the Louvre Museum via TakeWalks

So, what artwork makes up the Louvre? The museum houses over 380,000 objects and 35,000 pieces of work in eight departments. The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is the most famous art piece featured at the museum. It was acquired by King Francis I in 1518 and was moved to the Palace of Versailles in 1682 when King Louis XIV brought it there. It was not until after the French Revolution the Mona Lisa ended up at the Louvre for display.

 

 

Another famous painting featured at the Louvre is Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix. In his painting, Delacroix depicts Liberty waving the tricolor flag leading a group of men in the Revolution of France. Delacroix completed the painting in 1830, only a few months after the French Revolution concluded in July. The tricolor flag is the same flag held by militia as they stormed the Bastille and now represents the national flag of France. Delacroix has several other works of art featured at the Louvre.

 

Notable for his depiction of Napoleon’s Coronation, Jacques-Louis David is another must-see at the Paris museum. David is considered the first painter of the Emperor, and his painting Coronation of Napoleon features the event which took place in Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral in December of 1804. The painting was brought sometime in 1807 to the Louvre, known then as the Napoleon Museum, and can be found in the Denon wing today. These are a few of the thousands of pieces at the Louvre, so click here if you want to see all the collections at the Louvre. 

 

Not only does the Louvre contain beautiful works of art, but the grounds surrounding the former palace also contain beautiful statues and gardens. In the Louvre’s main courtyard, you can find the Louvre Pyramid, built in 1988. Three smaller ones surrounded the pyramid and had one inverted pyramid beneath it, which can be seen from inside the museum. Architect Ieoh Ming Pei was commissioned to modernize the Louvre in 1983 and built the courtyard pyramid to mimic the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Jardin des Tuileries in Paris France via ParisInfo

 

Beyond the pyramid, visitors at the Louvre can stroll through the Tuileries Garden between the Louvre courtyard, Place de la Concorde, and the Seine River. Le Jardin was constructed alongside a palace in 1564, ordered by Queen Catherin de Médicis. Nowadays, the garden includes walking paths around two ponds. Along the paths, you can find statues built by 20th-century sculptor Aristide Maillol, animal sculptures from August Cain, and contemporary exhibitions by more modern artists. Needless to say, any time spent at Le Musée du Louvre will be time filled with France’s beauty and rich history.

Brief History of Acadian Day & Celebration!

Angelina Iosso,
SNHU Intern

August 15th is National Acadian day!  A day when Acadians in both Canada and the US celebrate their heritage and culture! On National Acadian Day people celebrate with Tintamarre; a noisy and colorful event for all to celebrate! In the Canadian Maritime, a grand celebration is held where people parade through their communities with instruments to make noise and celebrate their heritage together.

Today, Acadians live primarily in the Canada’s Maritime provinces and Quebec as well as in the United States, mostly in Maine and Louisiana. This is in part due to colonial wars fought between France and England. After these wars, France ceded most of Acadian land to Great Britain. The Acadians refused to submit to the British Monarchy resulting in The Great Upheaval (1755-1764), where Acadians were deported or went into in hiding.

Why is Acadian Day celebrated August 15th?  When Acadians decided to have a special holiday they debated between Saint-Jean Baptiste Day (French Canadian’s national holiday) on June 24th and the day of Our Lady of Assumption, celebrated on August 15th.   While at the first National Acadian Convention in Memramcook, New Brunswick in 1881, our Lady of Assumption was chosen as the patron saint of Acadians.

Overall, Acadian Day celebrates the contribution of Acadians.  To the cultural fabric, their history and cultural specificity in all its joyous diversity.  With fairs, barbeques, festivals and other celebratory events like the Tintamarre, it’s a great day for everyone.

On August 15th, 2021, anyone in the Manchester Area is invited to join the Franco American Centre for our Acadian Family Day Celebration! The event, a picnic, is for Acadians and Acadians at heart to connect here in New Hampshire. Come down to Lafayette Park in Manchester, NH from 11 am to 2pm on August 15th! Bring your own lunch, blanket, and join us in celebrating Acadian Day!

 

Click here to let us know you’re coming!

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