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Studies on Film, History, Specific languages
Cinéma colonial is regarded by certain scholars as a highly conventionalised and commercialised film practice that grants spectators a sense of control over the potentially threatening colonial Other, and Belgian director Jacques Feyder has been subject to particularly harsh criticism in this regard. This article argues that Feyder’s Le Grand Jeu (1934), which depicts a young legionnaire’s relationship with a cabaret singer who bears an uncanny resemblance to a previous lover who jilted him in Paris, challenges dominant tendencies in portrayals of gender and colonialism in French cinema of the 1930s. Drawing on the relationship between Laura Mulvey’s theorisation of the male gaze and E. Ann Kaplan’s understanding of the imperial gaze, this article considers two core aspects of Feyder’s film. First, it illustrates how narrative sequences structured around the male protagonist’s point of view simultaneously grant insight into his vision of women and critically distance the spectator from his manipulative relationship with Irma. Second, it demonstrates that the framing of the protagonist’s gaze is linked with broader questions regarding French white objectification of indigenous Algerian women in a fashion that reflexively exposes the ideological underpinnings of cinéma colonial and French colonial culture of the interwar period more broadly in ways that French cinema of the 1930s largely elided.
Barry Nevin (2020) (Re)visions of the Outre-mer: looking at the male gaze in Jacques Feyder’s Le Grand Jeu (1934), French Screen Studies, 20:2, 87-106, DOI: 10.1080/14715880.2019.1667069
Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences, NUI Galway