Paths of Words: The political dimension of friendly conversation in Robert Guédiguian’s films

French Screen Studies 22 (4):271-286 (2022)
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Abstract

This article studies the political dimension of friendship in Robert Guédiguian’s cinema, delving into the crucial role that conversation plays in this relationship, and taking Stanley Cavell’s thought as a main reference. Aristotle’s concept of civic friendship, along with its contemporary readings, and Cavell’s notion of conversation provide a theoretical frame for the analysis of three recent feature films directed by Guédiguian that present a strong thematic and narrative unity (and have barely received attention in previous scholarship): Les Neiges du Kilimandjaro/The Snows of Kilimanjaro (2011), La Villa/The House by the Sea (2017) and Gloria Mundi (2019). Based on, but going beyond, Cavell’s moral theorisation of the filmic portrayal of human relationships, the analysis of these films has identified four milestones in the transformative process—both personal and political—that stems from conversation with friends: conformity, confrontation, acknowledgement and renewed community. In all three films, this process of change is not only presented as a progressive discovery of one’s own voice, but also as a progressive unmasking: both are necessary prerequisites for welcoming foreigners in need of acknowledgement and, consequently, for the renewal of community.

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Ana Romero-Iribas
Universidad Rey Juan Carlos

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