Emilie Bickerton on Serge Halimi, Les Nouveaux chiens de garde. Polemical attack on the French media as choristers of the new liberal order. Does Sarkozy’s victory mean the electorate is finally in tune?
SARKOZY’S FIFTH COLUMN
Nicolas Sarkozy’s entry to the Elysée in May 2007 was hailed not just by the right-wing press—‘What a victory!’ exclaimed Le Figaro—but even more sonorously by the liberal centre-left. At Le Monde, Jean-Marie Colombani confidently affirmed that the result showed ‘the country wants to be more dynamic, more offensive, more efficient’—in a word, summed up by the paper’s headline, ‘To Change’. Even the nominally left-wing ‘Anyone But Sarko’ Libération served its mourning readers a dose of stoic realism: ‘he owes his victory to his provocative honesty . . . in keeping with the wishes of the public . . . get ready’. Over the past ten years, the French media had been more inclined to chastise the populace than applaud its political choices—in its rebellious votes for the candidates of the far left and right in the 2002 presidential elections, for example. The 2007 vote seemed to represent a realignment of the electorate with the unanimous opinion—la pensée unique—of the media: that France should comply with the orderly alternation between centre-left and centre-right parties that liberal democracy required. Hence the sigh of relief from Le Monde when mainstream candidates triumphed in 2007’s first round. Colombani again:
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A New Proletkino?
Is it possible to detect the contours of a new genre of proletarian cinema operating across the widely contrasted films of Ken Loach, the Dardenne brothers, Robert Guédiguian, Aki Kaurismäki and Pedro Costa? What does this body of work say about contemporary working-class experience and its representations on the silver screen?
Just Remember This
Emilie Bickerton on Inez Hedges, World Cinema and Cultural Memory. Political film from Buñuel to Guzmán and Khleifi, through the lens of ‘memory studies’.
Culture After Google
Emilie Bickerton on Astra Taylor, The People’s Platform. Diagnosis of a cultural production laid low by digital consolidation, and political proposals for a push-back.
A Bonfire of Art
Emilie Bickerton on Michael Witt, Jean-Luc Godard, Cinema Historian. Landmark reading of the director’s epic audiovisual essay, Histoire(s) du cinéma.
Emilie Bickerton on Geneviève Nakach, Malaquais rebelle. Biography of a world-wandering modernist writer.
Emilie Bickerton on Thierry Discepolo, La Trahison des éditeurs. The Hexagon’s ‘quality’ book trade skewered by a leading radical publisher.
The Mage of Lake Geneva
Emilie Bickerton on Antoine de Baecque, Godard, biographie. Life and work of Europe’s greatest living visual artist.
Adieu to Cahiers
Life-cycle of Cahiers du cinéma. The trajectory of the pre-eminent film journal, from cine-clubs of Liberated Paris to masterpieces of the New Wave, barricades to the pensée unique, tracked against broader changes in French intellectual culture.
The Camera Possessed
Extraordinary career of Jean Rouch—surrealist, engineer, anthropologist, cinéaste—synthesizing the gains of Vertov and Flaherty, to take his camera inside the taboo. In Abidjan and Paris, ethnographical films appropriated by their subjects as springboard for the New Wave.