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Film Discussion: “Diva” by Jean-Jacques Beineix Essay (Movie Review)

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Updated: Jul 4th, 2019

France has always been associated with such concepts as love, beauty, art, culture and carefreeness. However, the end of the twentieth century was the period when the humanity faced the issues related to upcoming globalization. That was the period of certain confusion and even despair, anger and hope.

The image of France as a land of romantic blonde girls and adorable French men was somewhat distorted in the end of the twentieth century. France of that period was already a multicultural and highly diverse (in all respects) society. Jean-Jacques Beineix revealed this new French modernity in his film Diva (1981).

He showed the society where crime was crawling through subway stations to the heart of the country where culture and art as well as love and beauty were still cherished.

The protagonist of the film, Jules, represents a whole generation of young people who are only entering the brand new world after schools and colleges. Importantly, the young man is fascinated by music and this stands for strong French traditions. French culture is based on such values as art, nature, love and beauty.

The young man is in love with Cynthia’s talent. Some may call it obsession with a celebrity as the young man steals a dress as well as the very voice of the performer (recording may also stand for stealing here). Nonetheless, this is more of love and fascination with talent or art.

The film contains another manifestation of French ‘cultural self-consciousness’, so-to-speak. Jules and Cynthia stroll along the most remarkable places of Paris. The two people have an opportunity to enjoy the landmarks without the noise of the diverse Parisian society.

Their stroll (early in the morning) suggests the director’s (as well as any French person’s) admiration with the stunning architecture of Paris. Culture and art, though they are silent and can be appreciated in solitude, still reign in the minds of French people.

At the same time, the film also reveals the new trends in the French society. It is believed that such concepts as gangsters and crime were brought to France from the USA, i.e. American influence was manifested by the interest to this part of societal life. Jean-Jacques Beineix also resorts to these concepts.

He does not try to understand where these trends come from, but he exploits them to reveal the new reality. Thus, the reality of the 1980s makes Jules involved in lots of dangerous situations. French subway becomes a place of certain criminal activity. There is a homicide and music piracy, police corruption and theft.

The film depicts insecurity within the French society in the 1980s. Jules tries to remain in the world of his cultural values but is forced to be a part of the criminal activity of various groups. Notably, subway suggests that criminal layer of the French society is becoming a considerable subculture. The director uses dark spots of subway to depict criminal part of the society.

Criminal groups are still in the shadow and corruption is something new and unknown. Jules as well as the French society is not ready to the new trends and the new subcultures. However, these trends are becoming less obscure and French people are learning how to handle all the manifestation of the new reality and new modernity.

Finally, the film also dwells upon another peculiarity of the French modernity. Diversity was another trend the French society had to get used to. Jean-Jacques Beineix depicts diversity at different levels. One of the most explicit types of diversity revealed in the film is cultural. Jules is in love with an African American singer, he befriends a Taiwanese girl and her Russian friend. Jules is trying to escape from Taiwanese gangsters.

This multicultural interaction reveals the newly born French society which is now characterized by cultural and ethnic diversity. Beineix noticed the new trends in the early 1980s.

Apart from cultural diversity, the film also depicts social diversity. Thus, the film highlights some episodes from the life of a young postman, a popular opera singer, a bohemian rich man and his muse, a prostitute, a high-ranking police officer, and gangsters.

Beineix manages to depict all major layers of the French society. He also stresses that there is an ongoing interaction between all the layers of the modern French society. More so, there are hardly distinct lines between the social layers.

In conclusion, it is possible to note that the film Diva (1981) reflects the creation of the new modernity in the French society. The new reality was forming in the 1980s and Jean-Jacques Beineix managed to notice the transformation and depict it in his film. The film shows the creation of a highly diverse society where there is a close interaction between different groups.

It is clear that the society of the 1980s was not ready for the transformation and people were somewhat at a loss. Nonetheless, in his film, Beineix reveals his hope that the French society will be able to cope with the change and remain faithful to such concepts as culture, love and art.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Film Discussion: “Diva” by Jean-Jacques Beineix." July 4, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/film-discussion-diva-by-jean-jacques-beineix/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Film Discussion: “Diva” by Jean-Jacques Beineix'. 4 July.

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