Jackson School Journal
of International Studies

Reflections of the Repressed

by admin, December 20, 2013

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Volume 4 Number 2 – Autumn 2013

Katey Houck

Reflections of the Repressed

World War II French Identity in Lacombe, Lucien


“French films about World War II tend to fall into either the category of heritage film, which promotes a narrative of reconciliation in relation to French collaboration with the Nazis, or another group of films that serves to implicitly or explicitly question that narrative of reconciliation. Films in the latter category have probed the memory of the Vichy collaboration since the end of the war despite Charles de Gaulle’s efforts to repress narratives that challenged the idea of a country united against Germany. In the 1980’s, however, heritage film became the prevalent genre and promoted de Gaulle’s view of World War II in France. This article examines the representation of repressed trauma and blocked mourning that prompted the emergence of the heritage genre. In particular, it explores how the film Lacombe, Lucien (Louis Malle, 1974) reflects the French collective experience of loss during and in the aftermath of the collaboration. World War II films like Lacombe, Lucien in essence dramatize a troubling disappearance of French cultural identity, which the heritage rubric sought to control and suppress.”
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