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Define and analyse the Cinema du Look using Nikita as your main source for illustrations and examples.

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Define and analyse the Cinema du Look using Nikita as your main source for illustrations and examples. Cinema du look refers to a movement and a style of filmmaking, which first became popular in the early 1980s and continued to be successful right into the 90s with Luc Besson's Leon in 1994. Cinema du look's three main directors are said probably Luc Besson, Jean-Jacques Beineix and L�os Carax and the style of Cinema du look was said to have originated with Jean-Jacques Beineix's film Diva in 1980. The numerous popular successes of films like Besson's Subway and Grand Bleu and Carax's 37,2 d�gres le matin have meant the style of cinema du look has always been very successful amongst the young people of France. French critics on the other hand have always been very critical of Cinema du look and in particular of the work of Luc Besson and accuse him of being too commercial, cinematically autistic and not true to the values of French cinema. This is ironic because the cinema du look was an attempt to breakaway from the intellectual tradition of French film. The intellectual cinema magazine Cahiers du cin�ma once wrote that the style was 'superficial, and shows a complete absence of political and social concerns.' Although despite all these negative criticisms when interviewed Besson once described himself to Picasso, which seems to imply that he sees himself more of an artist than a director. ...read more.


When Nikita walks up the stairs to see Amande, the surrogate mother figure whose job it is to teach Nikita the art of femininity, we see a shot of her legs. This could be a nod to the films of Fran�ois Truffaut who deliberately focused on women's legs in order to fragment and fetish them. The use of lighting, blue, green and infrared in the films opening credits also refers back to Jean-Luc Goddard's symbolic use of filters in the 1963 film Le M�pris. The films main character, Nikita, is a perfect example of an 'alienated individual within a fragmented and threatening society', typical of cinema du look. She is all alone in the world because her friends were killed in the shoot out and at her death by lethal injection she calls out for her mother who isn't there. Those in authority are portrayed as ruthless for whom morality has no place in their world. Nikita on the other hand evolves into something more than the psychopathic tool her masters thought they had created. She develops into an independent and self-respecting young woman. She will perform the tasks set her but on her own terms. Besson is questioning the nature of society and the place of the individual within that society and showing us just how much potential do we have for growth and development. ...read more.


Besson uses his friend Eric Serra for the soundtracks to all his films and he brings atmospheric music which helps to set the mood for the scenes. When Nikita is looking at herself in the mirror and applying makeup she seems to be suddenly realising for the first time that there is a woman inside her and not just the tomboyish front that she puts on to the outside world and the music reflects the discovery. The effect is also exemplified at the very start of the film when the 4 youths are walking in time with the music towards the pharmacy, the scene could almost be from a rock music video. Although the genre of cinema du look is said to be escapist and therefore wholly unrealistic and unrelated to the real life of young people it is in a way very representative of the youth of the nation. The success of films du look represent the need of the young people of the 80s and 90s to leave behind their lives for a few hours and take their minds off the pressures of everyday postindustrial life. So even though Besson's films and other films du look are accused of having a complete absence of political and social concerns the genre shows that the young people don't want to be reminded of what's going on in everyday life. This in itself is symbolic of the mood of the young people of the nation and gives the films du look a purpose and so they aren't just 'commercial and superficial'. ...read more.

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