Cinema as History: Michel Brault and Modern Quebec


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With a career spanning more than five decades, director and cinematographer Michel Brault is one of the most influential figures in Québécois cinema. Cinema as History: Michel Brault and Modern Quebec is André Loiselle’s study of his life and his work. Brault’s early works, including Les Raquetteurs (co-directed with Gilles Groulx) and Pour la Suite du Monde (co-directed with Pierre Perrault) reflected a hitherto unacknowledged and unfulfilled need on the part of Québécois society to see their own culture reflected onscreen—and helped spark a cultural renaissance in Quebec. His 1974 fiction feature Les Ordres, which deals with the FLQ crisis and the invocation of the War Measures Act by then prime minister Pierre Trudeau, has consistently been listed as one of the best Québécois and Canadian films. Brault’s work as cinematographer has been equally essential, with groundbreaking films like Claude Jutra’s Mon Oncle Antoine (1971) and Francis Mankiewicz’s Les Bons Débarras (1980). He was a key contributor to the development of the cinema-verité movement, serving as cinematographer on French director Jean Rouch’s legendary Chronique d'un été (1961).

André Loiselle’s study of Brault’s work and career moves beyond traditional auteurist studies to explore how Brault’s work reflected (and in some cases helped instigate) changes in Quebec society over four decades. More than any other filmmaker, Brault managed to capture the culture’s zeitgeist.

Published by the Toronto International Film Festival. Distributed in Canada by Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Distributed outside Canada by Indiana University Press.