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Blondes and Brunettes in Film Examined in Exhibition at Cinémathèque Française
David Lynch, poses at the French Cinematheque, in Paris, during a visit to an art and film exhibition called"Brune/Blonde" (Brunette/Blond). The exhibition runs until Jan. 16, 2011.AP Photo/Fred Dufour.

PARIS.- Punctuated by many screening of film excerpts, Brune/Blonde focuses on film and its mythical actresses: blondes and brunettes, not to mention redheads, short and long hair, veiled or sensual. It looks at the film industry and its filmmakers seeking a form in which the body reveals itself. And it looks at films and the representation of hair, inextricably linked to desire and the intoxication of love. Emblematic of this is Kim Novak’s spiral bun in Hitchcock’s Vertigo, revisited 30 years later by David Lynch in Lost Highway.

With its main elements as aesthetic as they are thematic, the exhibition is divided into five parts entitled: Myths, The History and Geography of Hair, The Gestures of Hair; Hair at the Heart of Fiction (rivals, metamorphosis, dressing up, relics), Towards Abstraction (hair as a material).

At every stage of its journey the exhibition looks at classic and fringe films, films from the West and films from the East, films of the past (Buñuel, Hawks, Antonioni, Fuller, Bergman, etc.) and films of today (Wong Kar-waï, Kiarostami, Godard, etc.). Stimulating comparisons, even collusion: despite them, the exhibition manages to consider chronology and to reveal to the visitor historical milestones. Thus for example it reveals the development of the blonde in Hollywood films, relegated until the 1930s to the role of faithful spouse, before becoming the temptress vamp the following decade.

In this organised profusion of moving images, the exhibition also resolves to show many rare television archives evoking, through various cultural areas (US, Soviet Russia, Germany, Egypt, French-speaking Africa, Japan, etc.), the influence of the cinematographic imagination on society. Filmmakers, those great purveyors of icons, shape actresses, inventing styles which will drive the fashion of whole generations: the short hair of the 1920s (Louise Brooks), the platinum blonde of the 1930s (Jean Harlow), the flamboyant redhead of the 1940s (Rita Hayworth), the flowing Brigitte Bardot hair of the 1950s, Jean Seberg’s androgynous cuts of the 1960s, the regal blondness of Catherine Deneuve and the provocative Latin Madonna hair of Penelope Cruz, chosen to illustrate the exhibition's poster.

Brune/Blonde shows the conscious and unconscious interactions between the cinema and the other arts in the representation of beauty and feminine mystery. Throughout its history, cinema has never held back from portraying body movements in relation to hair, whose grace has been immortalised by many painters, sculptors and photographers. Unexpected aesthetic relationships are offered up to the visitor, made tangible through a journey rich in works of art. Alongside film projections, a Pop painting (McDermott & McGough) maintain a dialogue with a Pre-Raphaelite gouache (Dante Gabriel Rossetti), Art Nouveau lithographs (Mucha) rubbing shoulders with a Surrealist painting (Paul Delvaux), a 19th century bronze sculpture by Auguste Rodin sits alongside minimalist black and white photographs (Francesca Woodman, Edouard Boubat) while contemporary installations arouse surprise in visitors (Marie Drouet, Alice Anderson). And there is a special focus on the interest shown by 20th century art forms (including the cinema) in reinterpreting mythological figures such as Ophelia, LIlith, Medusa, Melisande and Rapunzel.

Finally, visitors have the opportunity to view an exclusive screening, in a small auditorium designed especially for the event, of six unpublished short films on the subject of Brune / Blonde, by six contemporary filmmakers giving their vision of feminine hair: Abbas Kiarostami, Isild Le Besco, Pablo Trapero, Yousry Nasrallah, Nobuhiro Suwa and Abderrahmane Sissako.

Brune/Blonde | Paris | Abbas Kiarostami | Isild Le Besco | Pablo Trapero |

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