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Since the French invasion of Algeria in 1830, the latter’s identity has been falsely constructed and largely misrepresented in the former’s homogenising mainstream audio-visual media. A combination of societal taboos and ignorance has left France’s population in anguish or obliviousness regarding their colonial history. Using Michael Haneke’s Caché (trans. Hidden, 2005) and Bastien Dubois’ Souvenir, Souvenir (trans. Memory, Memory, 2020) as case studies, I will illustrate the battle that the collective French consciousness has with its violent past with reference to Algerian identity. In order to do this, postcolonialism, a theoretical framework seeking to investigate the impact of colonisation, will be employed. Since the 1960s, postcolonialism has become one of the most controversial and complex fields of scholarly debate, extremely applicable in the field of audio-visual arts. This is due to film’s discernible characteristics for decoding and deconstructing implicit racist, xenophobic, imperial, and ignorant biases or distortions that are at the core of a film’s production. By watching films through a postcolonial lens, we gain better access to the ideological conquests between the coloniser and colonised, the legacies left behind, and the ways it continues to shape our societies today. France’s struggle with the concept of laïcité (secularism), ex-colonial state relations and their not-so-distant history has made this work ever pertinent for understanding the contemporary French political, social and historiographical landscape. Furthermore, the approach given to the selected films possesses wider functions, applicable to various other national, imperial and colonial contexts worldwide that can serve to challenge Western superiority, as the West sees it in itself.
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