Saturday, April 24, 2010

Claire Denis "Chocolat"

In reading Author/Auteur: Feminist Literary Theory And Feminist Film my understanding of auteur is a person who creates films based on how they view life. An auteur will create a film so that you can understand their beliefs whereas in the introduction of “introduction: making movie magic” it says that movies do not show real life, but “give the reimagined, reinvented version of the real”. An auteur will depict real life and real issues in their films, and one auteur I believe does that is a woman named Claire Denis.

When I was first researching for a female auteur I came across a few but found none in the United States. There maybe some here but I did not come across them, but I was pleased to come across Claire Denis. Denis is a French filmmaker who favors visual and sound elements rather than dialogue ( In her films she likes to focus on those who do not get to be in mainstream media such as immigrants and alienated individuals.

In her film Chocolat, Denis displays her interest in national identity and legacy in French colonialism ( In this film she shows intense feelings between characters through action and no words. For example between characters Portee and Aimee there is an unspoken desire to want to be with another person of a different class. There is a moment where Portee is taking a shower outside (because that is where the blacks showered), and Aimee and another character Frances passes by from taking a walk. Portee sees them and leans back and hits the wall with his elbow. This displays the frustration of the boundaries they face. Denis is obviously not afraid to show the boundaries of race and class. In this film all of the servants are black and it shows that everything they have is public space (even where they shower). The white people who own the house have private space such as a bedroom and bathroom. This alone makes her an auteur by displaying true boundaries between different races rather than to create a film with different races and pretend like the boundaries do not exist. Denis is able to show intimate moments like this, because her film takes place in a remote area so that she can focus on a handful of characters. Because it takes place in a remote area these characters are stuck in remote roles where a wife is a “wife” and a servant will always be black.

Denis is an amazing auteur because she is not afraid to display life as she sees it. She is not trying to give the audience what they want, but for them to look at things in a different perspective, and to give a second thought to circumstances we ignore in life.

Works Cited:

“The European Graduate School EGS.” The Official Website. Copyright 1997-2010

Neroni, Hilary

“Lost in the Fields of Interracial Desire.” New Perspectives on European film. Volume 3 Issue 7. 9June 2003.

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