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Studying French Cinema$
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Sarah Perks, Isabelle Vanderschelden, and Andy Willis

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781906733162

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906733162.001.0001

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The Renewal of French Historical Drama and Heritage Film

The Renewal of French Historical Drama and Heritage Film

(p.197) Chapter Nine: The Renewal of French Historical Drama and Heritage Film
Studying French Cinema

Isabelle Vanderschelden

Liverpool University Press

This chapter explores the renewal of French historical drama and heritage film. French cinema has always sought inspiration in historical events to form the basis of powerful narratives. In the 1980s, a range of films explored and renewed the approach to this cinematic genre by developing a trend of spectacular mainstream heritage films, known in France as 'les films du patrimoine'. Towards the mid-1990s, these lavish costume dramas became less popular in France, and some commercial flops made producers more wary of investing large sums in them. In the new millennium, however, the heritage drama seems to have been revamped to produce a series of innovative films that combine compelling elements of national identity and transnational features often borrowed from New Hollywood. These films are often described as popular in the sense of being 'seen by a large number of people', and 'reaching a broad public'. Le Pacte des loups/Brotherhood of the Wolf (Christophe Gans, 2001) illustrates the emergence of this trend perfectly, by combining popular cultural myths with the high production values of recent European superproductions in a competitive global market.

Keywords:   French historical drama, French heritage film, French cinema, costume dramas, heritage drama, New Hollywood, popular films, Brotherhood of the Wolf, Christophe Gans

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