This examination of France's national cinema takes its primary artefact, the feature film and discusses both popular cinema and the `avant garde' cinema that contests it.Susan Hayward argues that writing on French national cinema has tended to focus on either `great' film-makers or on specific movements, addressing moments of exception rather than the global picture. Her work offers a thorough and much-needed historical textualisation of those moments and relocates them them in their wider political and cultural context. Beginning with an `ecohistory' of the French film industry, she then traces the various movements in French cinema and the directors associated with them, including the avant-garde, Poetic-Realist, New Wave and today's postmodern cinema. Her analysis includes, amongst other considerations, the social and political concerns these cinemas reflect.

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