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From Paintings to Pornography: (Re)Animating Archives in French Documentary

Devine, Jonathan Michael (2022) From Paintings to Pornography: (Re)Animating Archives in French Documentary. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Focusing on contemporary French documentaries and essay films, this dissertation analyzes how citations, intermediality, and the re-use of pre-existing footage interrogate what archives are, and what they mean. Specifically, I look at this question through the lens of “animation,” which I define in two ways. First, by “technical animation,” I mean the motion of cinematic frames. Second, “metaphorical animation” refers to movement, but in the sense of feelings, affect, and a personal response to an image. The archives referenced in the title range from actual, tangible archives such as France’s national library, to a completely nonexistent archive, such as the use of trickery and fakery to imitate real archival spaces and footage. Chapter 1 considers Alain Resnais, specifically Toute la mémoire du monde (1956) (on the Bibliothèque nationale) and Guernica (1950) (where Resnais cuts segments of Pablo Picasso’s painting to create a new whole). Chapter 2 discusses Agnès Varda. In documentary Varda par Agnès (2019), her final film, Varda reframes and rewrites footage from a number of her previous films (as well as museum installations), her first-person voice and fluid camerawork creating nuance and contradiction. Chapter 3 uses queer theory to examine two documentaries. Sagat (Pascal Roche and Jérôme M. De Oliveira, 2011) considers French gay porn star François Sagat, where the “success” of his performance hinges upon an animated audience response – that is, to be sexually satisfied. I then turn to Bambi (Sébastien Lifshitz, 2013) on trans* performer Marie-Pierre Pruvot, wherein her highly personalized voiceover is coupled with still photographs from her own archive. Chapter 4 deals with La Rage du Démon (Fabien Delage, 2016), a mockumentary that purports to fill in the gaps about the lost films of Georges Méliès – and a supposedly “cursed” one in particular – these missing films are intangible and metaphorical, and ultimately non-existent. I finish this dissertation by considering the ramifications of technical and metaphorical animation in the many disparate documentary forms that are available globally on streaming platforms such as Netflix.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Devine, Jonathan Michaeljmd217@pitt.edujmd2170000-0003-3899-8171
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPettersen, Davidpettersen@pitt.edupettersen
Committee MemberReeser, Todd W.reeser@pitt.edureeser
Committee MemberMajumdar, Neepanmajumda@pitt.edunmajumda
Committee MemberAnderson, Mark Lynnandersml@pitt.eduandersml
Date: 6 July 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 12 November 2021
Approval Date: 6 July 2022
Submission Date: 9 December 2021
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 231
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Film Studies
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: French Cinema; Documentary; Animation; Queer; Mockumentary; Left Bank.
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2022 13:00
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2022 13:00


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