The multi talented Marcelline Block, Editor of Intellect's World Film Locations: Paris guest blogs for Eternity of Dream
Paris in Genres Guest Post: Diva (1981)

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"Jean-Jacques Beineix’s oeuvre includes several of the major works of the 1980s French cinema movement dubbed the “Cinéma du Look”: defined by Ginette Vincendeau as “youth-oriented films with high production values…The ‘look’ of the cinéma du look refers to the films’ high investment in non-naturalistic, self-conscious aesthetics, notably intense colours and lighting effects” (Vincendeau 1996, 50). Appearing before his monumental 37°2 le matin/Betty Blue (1986), Beineix’s 1981 Diva (adapted from Daniel Odier’s novel) inaugurated him as an auteur of complex, lengthy narratives with striking visuals that form his trademark aesthetic and mise-en-scène. Central to Beineix’s films is the intersection of romantic relationships—happy or not—and creative endeavor, such as that of the aspiring author Zorg (Jean-Hughes Anglade) and his ultimately tragic love for Betty (Beatrice Dalle) in Betty Blue or Jules’ (Frédéric Andrei) obsessive passion for an American opera icon, Cynthia Hawkins (played by real life opera singer Wilhelmina Wiggins Fernandez), the titular “Diva” of Beineix’s first feature film, which won the César for Best Debut. In Diva, Hawkins’ refusal to record her singing—the cornerstone of her philosophy as an artist—propels the narrative’s unfolding. Likening bootleg recordings of her performances as a violation of her artistic integrity, she describes the concert as a privileged moment between artist and public, declaring that “music, it comes and goes; don’t try to keep it,” thus somewhat evoking Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility” (1935)."

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