Journal of Romance Studies

All quiet on the filmic front? Codeswitching and the representation of multilingual Europe in La Grande Illusion (Jean Renoir, 1937) and Joyeux Noël (Christian Carion, 2005)

Journal of Romance Studies (2010), 10, (2), 37–52.

Abstract

Codeswitching, defined linguistically as ‘the use of more than one language in the course of a single communicative episode’, is usually studied in the context of real situations. This article contends that any study of codeswitching in film must take into account not merely realism but the context in which the film is made. Multilingual films use codeswitching as a dynamic strategy both to advance the plot and to negotiate a position in relation to their audience and production context. The article will offer a detailed comparative analysis of two polyglot French films closely comparable in terms of narrative context and explicit agenda – Jean Renoir’s La Grande Illusion (1937) and Christian Carion’s Joyeux Noël (2005) – in order to suggest changing patterns of filmic perception and reception of the linguistic language of Europe.

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Smith, Alison