Monday, November 8, 2010

French Entertainment, Celebrities & Reality TV

Kate Krantz, Alexandria Geisler & Kate Becker

God may have created Bardot, but has she finally fallen from grace?
The author traces the trajectory of Brigitte Bardot’s career, starting at her humble beginnings in Paris. Bardot was born to a middle-class family and was encouraged by her mother to embark on a ballet career at a young age, enrolling in the National Superior Conservatory of Paris for Music and Dance at only 13. Bardot began her modeling career soon after, landing the cover of Elle magazine in 1950. The cover caught the attention of filmmaker Roger Vadim, who helped shape her iconic image in the film And God Created Woman (1956). Bardot went on to have a slew of overly publicized love affairs with famous persons in the entertainment industry such as Serge Gainsbourg and Jimi Hendrix. After her first Vadim film, Bardot had secured her spot as the original French sex kitten, propelled further by her subsequent film choices featuring her in roles as the seductress. Even after her retirement from film in 1973, she continued to feed into her typecast, posing nude for Playboy at 39 years old.

Over the past ten years, Bardot’s fall from grace has been a result of her “alarming signs of racial intolerance.” Though Bardot has done positive things with her celebrity, including the creation of the Brigitte Bardot Foundation for the Welfare and Protection of Animals, she is more widely known for her expressing her racist views. Bardot has been convicted multiple times for inciting racial hatred, most prominently for her unsavory comments against Muslim immigrants in France. Bardot has shifted from the beloved iconic celebrity of her youth to a woman who symbolizes “race hatred and bigoted suspicion.”

Link: The Brigitte Bardot Foundation for the Welfare and Protection of Animals.

The hunt for Roman Polanski

In 1978, filmmaker Roman Polanski was charged with unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl and fled America to avoid his sentence. Currently, Polanski is being held in Zurich, waiting to hear if he will be extradited back to America to serve time for the crime that took place over three decades ago. The tumultuous life of Polanski and the circumstances following the crime have created highly polarized public opinions in regards to a pending punishment.
When Polanski was a child, he narrowly escaped the ghetto of Kraków, Poland while his parents were sent to concentration camps during World War II. Having lost his mother at the hands of the Auschwitz Nazi’s, Polanski grew up focusing his time on cinema at the end of the war, eventually entering film school. At only 29, he was an internationally renowned filmmaker for his film Knife in the Water (1962). Polanski lived briefly in Paris and London before settling down in Hollywood where he made his first American film, Rosemary’s Baby (1968). Also in 1968, Polanski married actress Sharon Tate, who soon after was pregnant with the couple’s first child. Devastatingly, Charles Manson’s clan murdered Tate, traumatizing Polanski to an incredible degree. To cope, Polanski buried himself in his work. Six years after the tragic death of his wife and child, Polanski released Chinatown (1974), the film noir cinematic masterpiece featuring Jack Nicholson. It was at the house of Nicholson that Polanski met 13-year-old Samantha Gailey, an aspiring actress and model. Both parties agreed that he gave the underage girl champagne and Quaalude before they had sex. Polanski was arrested and pleaded guilty. After spending over a month in jail for evaluation purposes, Polanski fled to France after being informed he would likely be incarcerated at his next court date.
In the documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, Gailey says that she has forgiven Polanski and hopes that his attempts to have the charges dismissed are successful. The film also includes interviews with Polanski’s DA and the assistant DA prosecuting him who concur that “justice had been undermined by the presiding judge.” The judge, Laurence Rittenband (who passed away in 1994), was said to want only want his moment in the spotlight, craving the notoriety as the man who imprisoned Polanski.
Now the question is raised; Why has LA County DA Steve Cooley advocated so vehemently for Polanski’s detainment in Zurich over three decades later?

Trailer for Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired :

French 'Reality Television': More than a Matter of Taste?

Hugh Dauncey takes a historical approach in his analysis of French reality television, known as télé réalité in his article, “French Reality Television”. Dauncey examines the development of reality programming during the 1980’s and 1990’s, creating with it a French broadcasting system characterized by increasing variety, competition, and sensitivity to commercial material in order to attract viewers. Téléréalité began with three basic formats: the téléfilm, the information-débat, and the variétés. The first category encompasses television shows where actors are used to recreate true stories on television, the second describes the presentation of a conflict and its resolution, and the last involves audience participation in a rendition of their problems, followed by a discussion of their experiences. Programming has since moved on from these basic forms, as subject content has expanded and given way to sensationalism. The article addresses the criticisms and justifications of reality television series, confronting the issue of whether télé réalité hinders the traditional legal system through encouraging voyeurism and exhibitionism in viewers, or promotes a democratic ideal for the betterment of citizens. Finally, the author explores the tensions between increasing commercialization demands on content and maintaining France’s image of a country of culture. Does the increase in LCD (lowest common denominator) content hinder traditional sophistication of French culture or does the hyperreality of modern programming give people the independence and freedom they deserve? Dauncey leaves off on the inconclusive conclusion that we must look to the future for an answer.

Radical Chic

The Cannes Film Festival celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2007 and in creating its renowned reputation for some of the best upcoming talent and films, the festival has also become infamously associated with political controversies. Francois Truffaut, Guy Debord, and Jean-Luc Godard were closely associated with some of its main political upheavals. The Cannes Festival has a history of being affiliated with events in France, and one of its most famous instances was the response to the strike of May 1968 in France. Because of the numerous students and workers’ strikes, Truffaut, Godard, and Louis Malle shut down the festival that year to support the civilians’ cause, and filmmakers agreed not submit their work that year. This was said to forever change the Cannes’ Film Festival, rendering it a “liberal” and “global” reputation, free of elitism. After 1968 the festival began nominating titles rather than competitor countries, because a new importance had grown for human rights and cultural acceptance.

Cannes: Cannes' Early Days & the Day They Killed the Fest

Cannes Film Festival has always been known for its sceny and trendy crowd with beautiful celebrities and beaches. It has also been a place for new talents to be discovered and find contacts. Many of today’s famous filmmakers got their start by “talking film” amongst each other at the festival. The festival exposed the best filmmakers and film producing countries. Among others, Mexico, Greece, India, Japan, and Sweden were discovered for producing quality films. The festival also fostered France’s New Wave era, when acclaimed French directors such as Truffaut, Godard, and Chabrol were discovered. Iconic stars such as Bridget Bardot, Grace Kelley, and Rita Hayworth also garnered much of their publicity from the event. With the increasing glitz and size of the festival, however, some say the festival lost its initial intellectual atmosphere.

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