Space, the Crowd and Prostitution in Carmen

lecture by Phil Powrie
Thursday, February 27, 2003 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Pathe's films d'art, first introduced in 1908, represented an attempt to make of film, previously a popular entertainment, a more acceptable artistic form for the middle classes. Historical, literary and operatic subjects were often chosen to this end. This paper will explore one such film, Andre Calmettes's adaptation of Carmen (France, 1910). After a screening of the film, which is 16 minutes long, the paper will show how the organisation of space betrays a middle-class fear of the crowd. This fear can be broken down into its constituent parts: fear of the working class, and fear of women. Women had become more visible in the world of work during the 19th century, and had begun to access the professions from the 1880s onwards. These two parts combine in the figure of the prostitute played by Carmen. Phil Powrie is Professor of Modern Languages and the Director of the Centre for Research into Film and Media at The University of Newcastle Upon Tyne. Prof. Powrie is a co-editor (along with Susan Hayward) of the new journal Studies in French Cinema. He is the author of French Cinema in the 1980s: Nostalgia and the Crisis of Masculinity, French Cinema in the 1990s: Continuity and Difference, Jean-Jacques Beineix and co-author the forthcoming An Introduction to French Cinema. He is also coeditor of the forthcoming Masculinities and Film and The films of Luc Besson.

Co-sponsored by Committee on Cinema and Media Studies, Mass Culture Workshop