Explore the best French protest films

It is a wonderful irony that one of the most patriotic things you can do as a French person is to protest against France. Some would argue that revolution is built into the cultural DNA of a nation, and that attacking the government and the idea of ​​French is a rite of passage.

I tend to agree. France, and especially Paris, has a long history of protest. The Revolution of 1789, which began with the storming of the Bastille and ended with the formation of the French Consulate, saw workers riot over taxes, economic inequality, and a general feeling that the aristocracy was completely out of touch with the reality of the working poor. I think it is fair to say that things did not go as planned.

After World War II, the French people were once again swept up in a wave of revolutionary sentiment. With Algeria’s independence battle shamefully illuminating France and the disintegration of the Fourth Republic, the rapidly growing number of French students began to believe that they were living under a false authoritarian regime. Protest (often violent) seemed a necessity.

For the young and educated middle class, cinema, art, and philosophy were not merely reflections of the conversations going on in society; that they they were conversations. Determined not to isolate art from life, directors like Godard have established themselves as major players in the protests. In doing so, they promoted French cinema as an instrument of societal transformation. To celebrate the legacy of the May ’68 protests in Paris and the history of the French protest in general, we’ve bought you some of the best films that capture the nation’s revolutionary spirit.

Best French protest films:

Battle of Algeria (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966)

What a strange twist of fate that the most influential political film in the history of French cinema is made by an Italian. Classic Gillo Pontecorvo 1966 Battle of Algeria A systematic one-year re-presentation of Algiers’ battle for independence from France in the 1950s.

This anti-authoritarian show vividly depicts the revolution as a family business, with armed children taking soldiers at close range and mothers planting bombs in cafes. Often seen as an experiment in the style of realistic cinema, Battle of Algeria Sets the camera amid the turmoil, he offers a democratic vision of the revolution and an insight into the brutal nature of modern warfare. Today, Pontecorvo’s masterpiece is as relevant as ever.

No Chinoise (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967)

It is impossible to talk about protest in French cinema without mentioning Jean-Luc Godard. From May 1968 to the 1970s, the director was involved in a period of radical political activism, during which time he became a figurehead of the protests. With François Truffaut, Godard led protests against the 1968 Cannes Film Festival, arguing that there was not a single film chosen by the team that reflected their cause, not even his. As he admitted at the time, “We’re way behind the times.”

But looking back No ChinoiseGodard, it seems, was aware of the frustration simmering under the surface before it boiled. The 1967 film depicts the inner workings of a small group of middle-class students who, disillusioned with their parents’ suburban lifestyle, decide to form a Maoist congregation. Together, they put together a plan to change the world using Mao Little Red Book as their Rosetta Stone and use terrorist principles to ignite a revolution.

no haine (Matthew Kasowitz, 1995)

Few films have had the influence of Matthew Kasowitz no haine did when it was released in 1995. With the same volatile aggressiveness that serves as the thematic focus of the film, the show is an unforgiving and sometimes humorous insight into the lives of three friends living in the notoriously violent suburbs of Paris.

This jungle of concrete towers and armed police is far from the cozy student monasteries of Godard’s No Chinoise. Navigating this bleak landscape are three friends: Vinz, Hubert and Said, each representing a different section of France’s immigrant population. After learning that one of their friends had been arrested and beaten by the police, they took to the streets, trying to come to terms with the incident as riots began to appear throughout the neighborhood. But when someone finds a neglected handgun of a police officer, things take a darker turn.

dreamers (Bernardo Bertolucci, 2003)

Bernardo Bertolucci’s Love Letter to Cinema: 2003 dreamers Fabulous as it is nostalgic. Set amid the ’68 protests in Paris, the film follows an American exchange student studying at a Parisian university. His love of cinema made him meet his brother and sister Theo (Louis Garrel) and Isabel (Eva Green), who invite him to their parents’ Bohemian home for dinner.

After learning that the siblings were born conjoined, innocent Matthew (Michael Pitt) becomes fascinated by their incestuous relationship. As they spend the next three weeks drinking, smoking, arguing and fucking, the real revolution is taking shape outside their window. in her heart, dreamers It is a celebration of youth culture, and a sad evocation of the time when cinema, art, and music had the power to motivate a generation.

something in the air (Olivier Assayas, 2012)

The May 68 protests are often portrayed as moments of existence. For this reason, the spring uprisings are a good backdrop for narratives about coming of age. Director Olivier Assayas does just that in his 2012 semi-autobiographical film something in the air.

This deceptive drama immediately follows an aspiring painter and director named Giles, who travels from the suburbs of Paris to Italy and back again during the summer of 1971 in search of romance, revolution, and creative achievement. As he finds these, he also discovers a taste for chaos.

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