"Cinéma du look" was a French film movement of the 1980s and 1990s, analysed for the first time by French critic Raphaël Bassan in La Revue du Cinéma issue number 448, May 1989, in which he classified Luc BessonJean-Jacques Beineix and Leos Carax as directors of "le look," who were said to favor style over substance, spectacle over narrative. It referred to films that had a slick, gorgeous visual style and a focus on:

- young, alienated characters who were said to represent the marginalized youth of François Mitterrand's France.

WE REVISE THIS TO: - young, worried characters who still believe that they can change their world for the better. 


Themes that run through many of their films include: 

- doomed love affairs

WE REVISE THIS TO: - seemingly doomed love affairs that they can turn around if they are willing to discipline themselves and never give up. 

- young people more affiliated to peer groups than families

WE REVISE THIS TO: - young people affiliated to peer groups who then discover that family and unity is more important.

- a cynical view of the police

WE REVISE THIS TO: - a cynical view of the police and authority figures until they learn just how difficult their jobs are and that they are actually good people.

- the use of scenes in the Paris Métro to symbolize an alternative, underground society.

WE REVISE THIS TO: - the use of scenes in subways, caves, jungles, underwater, etc. to symbolize an alternative, underground society.  

- the mixture of 'high' culture, such as the opera music of Diva and Les Amants du Pont-Neuf, and pop culture, for example the references to Batman in Subway.


French filmmakers were inspired by New Hollywood films (most notably Francis Ford Coppola's One from the Heart and Rumble Fish), late Fassbinder films (Lola), as well as television commercials, music videos, and fashion photography.


Jean-Jacques Beineix

Luc Besson

Leos Carax


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© 2020 by Gerald Chong