A cinematic cultural memory of courtship, weddings, marriage, and adultery in July Monarchy France through Heritage Films Claude Chabrol’s Madame Bovary, Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s The Horseman on the Roof, and Catherine Breillat’s The Last Mistress




Doherty, Annabelle

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British Academy and Oxford University Press


Through the cinematic experience of heritage films' historical reconstitutions, audiences may acquire a vivid cultural memory of prior eras, where the powerful corporeal effect of the cinematographic language stimulates a lived sensation of the past. Yet the recreations of heritage cinema are, at times, refracted through the lens of auteurism, impacting the historical realism and effect of authenticity and in the case of adaptations transforming the original source text. This article considers key French heritage films to depict the July Monarchy in France, investigating how different auteurs influence the films' sensual audio-visual recreations and consequently spectators' filmic experience. Former new wave auteur Claude Chabrol's adaptation Madame Bovary (1991) and its recreation of 1830–1840s France is compared and contrasted with later-generation auteur Jean-Paul Rappeneau's Le Hussard sur le toit/The Horseman on the Roof (1995) and younger-generation auteur Catherine Breillat's Une vieille maîtresse/The Last Mistress (2007), exploring history via their unique authorial aesthetics and ideologies. The depiction of (semi-)fictional historical figures during events of the July Monarchy is analysed, in the films' portraits of past landscapes, focusing on the intimate settings of courtship, weddings, marriage, and adultery during the reign of Louis Philippe I. The article examines the adaptation of Chabrol's vision of Gustave Flaubert's canonical 1857 work, together with Rappeneau's interpretation of Jean Giono's 1951 novel and Breillat's recreation of Barbey d'Aurevilly's 1851 text. It explores the cinematic cultural memory of the past potentially acquired by spectators through the embodied experience of each auteur's powerful heritage adaptation.







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