The McMaster French Department recently introduced a new club celebrating French Cinema, launching a biweekly tradition of watching French films. With a joint collection of French DVDs and a common love for film, Jonathan Royce and Joëlle Papillon came together for the birth of “Le Ciné-Club.”
The club plays French films with English subtitles every other Tuesday night in an open minded, close-knit environment in TSH room 201. Diverse collections of French films have been previously chosen by the duo to provide members with fresh variety every visit. “We purposefully chose movies that would show different sides of French cinema,” explained Papillon, specifying that choices include, “Two classics in black and white, two animated movies, and two Québécois movies”.
I had the pleasure of attending the opening night to watch the black and white classic Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows). The film offers an outlook on life through the eyes of a rebellious 12-year-old boy, Antoine, living in Paris during the 1950s. Director François Truffaut explores his own troubled adolescence through the young lead amateur-actor Jean-Pierre Léaud, who plays Antoine.
Throughout the film you follow Antoine on his mischievous Parisian adventures, he is ignored and abandoned by both teacher and parents and left with excessive freedom. Papillon says, “You really get an idea of what France would have been like in the 1950s – especially the discipline that was enforced on kids at school and at home.” With his excessive freedom, Antoine sadly follows a downward spiral as he cuts class, runs away from home, and commits petty crime. As Antoine gets caught over and over again, the audience is left a deeply empathetic feeling of, “Oh no, not again!” Papillon describes it as “both funny and tragic, making you feel the impossible situation he is in.” Antoine’s character reflects an honest perspective of troubled adolescence, and makes it easy to compare today’s youth to those of Paris in the 1950s.
Le Ciné-club has plans to show the following French-language films in the coming weeks: Rebelle (War Witch), Un monster à Paris (A monster in Paris), Persépolis (Persepolis), Le jour se lève (Daybreak), and J’ay serré la main du diable (Shake Hands With the Devil). There is casual discussion following every film (not to fear, it’s in English). The next screening will take place Tuesday Feb. 11, at 6:30 p.m.