The Society Behind the Screen: A Look at How French and American Films Represent Their Unique Cultures
The purpose of this honors thesis project is to educate and excite French students on the subject of French films, as well as any person who might be interested in immersing himself/herself in the world of French cinema. This project aims to provide an introduction to French culture through film, and thereby inspire a love of Francophone culture and movies. To accomplish this goal, this honors project will first introduce the differences between French and American films and explain how those differences are based on the underlying culture of the two regions. These differences, in addition to the language barrier, can cause cultural misunderstandings. As a result, these misunderstandings often prevent many Americans from ever experiencing French cinema. The varying history, pacing, writing styles, and gender roles of French and American films can be analyzed to discover each culture's norms and values. Though films often come from a place of imagination, they can also give clues about the life of the society that creates and watches them. After first exploring the history and evolution of cinema in France and America, the project will also analyze the major cinematic differences between the two. Finally, the project contains advice for the reader on film-watching strategies to maximize his/her understanding and enjoyment. Films can serve as a unique and educational lens where viewers can observe cultures in an entertaining environment. When watching foreign films, viewers can hope to gain more insight into the people and the norms of different cultures, and hopefully they will become excited to learn more.