Cinéma du look

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Cinéma du look
Years active1980s–1990s
InfluencesNew Hollywood, music videos, French New Wave

Cinéma du look (French: [sinema dy luk]) was a French film movement of the 1980s and 1990s, analysed, for the first time, by French critic Raphaël Bassan in La Revue du Cinéma issue no. 449, May 1989,[1] in which he classified Luc Besson, Jean-Jacques Beineix and Leos Carax as directors of the "look".[2]

Style and origins[edit]

These directors were said to favor style over substance, spectacle over narrative.[3] It referred to films that had a slick, gorgeous visual style[3] and a focus on young, alienated characters[4] who were said to represent the marginalized youth of François Mitterrand's France.[5] Themes that run through many of their films include doomed love affairs, young people more affiliated to peer groups than families, a cynical view of the police, and the use of scenes in the Paris Métro to symbolise an alternative, underground society. The mixture of 'high' culture, such as the opera music of Diva and Les Amants du Pont-Neuf, and pop culture, for example the references to Batman in Subway, was another key feature.[3]

A parallel can be drawn between these French filmmakers' productions and New Hollywood films including most notably Francis Ford Coppola's One from the Heart (1981) and Rumble Fish (1983), Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Lola (1981), as well as television commercials, music videos and the series Miami Vice.[6] The term was first defined by Raphael Bassan in La Revue De Cinema.

Key directors and key films[edit]

Jean-Jacques Beineix[edit]

Luc Besson[edit]

Leos Carax[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Translated into English: "The French Neo-baroques Directors: Beineix, Besson, Carax from Diva to le Grand Bleu" (pp. 11–23), in The Films of Luc Besson: Master of Spectacle (Under the direction of Susan Hayward and Phil Powrie) Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007. ISBN 0-7190-7028-7
  2. ^ Berra, John (June 2009). "Book Reviews: The Films of Luc Besson: Master of Spectacle". Scope. No. 14. Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2011-05-29.
  3. ^ a b c Austin, Guy. Contemporary French Cinema: An Introduction, Manchester University Press, 1999, pp. 119–120, 126-128. ISBN 0-7190-4611-4
  4. ^ 10 Essential Films For An Introduction To Cinema du Look — Taste of Cinema
  5. ^ French Cinema in the 1980s - Google Books (pg.109)
  6. ^ French National Cinema - Google Books (pg.244)
  7. ^ a b c d e "Movie movements that defined cinema: Cinéma du look". Empire. August 8, 2016.
  8. ^ DIVA (1981) — Blu-ray Review — ZekeFilm
  9. ^ Jean-Jacques Beineix obituary|Movies|The Guardian
  10. ^ Betty Blue: The Look of Love|Current|The Criterion Collection
  11. ^ a b Look Again: A Celebration of Cinema Du Look on Vimeo


  • Bordwell, David; Thompson, Kristin (2002). Film History: An Introduction (2nd ed.). ISBN 0-07-038429-0.

External links[edit]