A Gender Perspective on Film Character and Stardom: Studying the Production of Film Representations in the Forties (Claude Autant-Lara Collection, Swiss Film Archive)
This project studies the mechanisms of the construction of gender representations in French cinematographic production of the 1940s. The aim is to establish links between the work of different contributors, the status of the stars involved, and the characters that they portray on screen. The gender study is rooted in examining various historical sources, particularly screenplays at various stages of writing. The production context of films such as Le Mariage de Chiffon (1942), Occupe-toi d’Amélie (1949) and Le Bon Dieu sans confession (1953) is reconstructed and examined based on documents from the Claude Autant-Lara archive of the Swiss Film Archives, and considered in the light of the tools forged by film narratology, gender studies, star studies and cultural history. The objective is to develop a “genetic” approach that enables the documentation of the stages of creation by placing them in their socio-historical context. The main periodization (1942–1949) corresponds to the first films officially attributed to Claude Autant-Lara as sole director, the birth of the trio that he formed with his two screenwriters Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost, and a pivotal moment in the French star system, which was undergoing a feminization and rejuvenation in the context of occupied France. The stars of the corpus – Odette Joyeux, Micheline Presle and Gérard Philipe – offer emblematic case studies.