Flesh and Blood: Sex and Violence in Recent French Cinema<sup>1</sup>

James Quandt

in The New Extremism in Cinema

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780748641604
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651221 | DOI:
Flesh and Blood: Sex and Violence in Recent French Cinema1

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The convulsive violence of Bruno Dumont's film Twentynine Palms (2003) has dismayed many, particularly those who greeted his first two features, Life of Jesus (1997) and L'Humanité (1999), as the work of a true heir to Robert Bresson. Twentynine Palms elicits an unintentional anxiety: that Dumont, once imperiously impervious to fashion, has succumbed to the growing vogue for shock tactics in French cinema over the past decade. The critic truffle-snuffing for trends might call it the New French Extremity, this recent tendency to the willfully transgressive by directors like François Ozon, Gaspar Noé, Catherine Breillat, Philippe Grandrieux — and now, Dumont. Images and subjects once the provenance of splatter films, exploitation flicks, and porn — gang rapes, bashings and slashings and blindings, hard-ons and vulvas, cannibalism, sadomasochism and incest, fucking and fisting, sluices of cum and gore — proliferate in the high-art environs of a national cinema whose provocations have historically been formal, political, or philosophical or, at their most immoderate, at least assimilable as emanations of an artistic movement (mostly Surrealism).

Keywords: Bruno Dumont; Twentynine Palms; violence; New French Extremity; François Ozon; Gaspar Noé; Catherine Breillat; Philippe Grandrieux; cannibalism; porn

Chapter.  3611 words. 

Subjects: Film

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