To remember in order to be able to forget: Rachid Bouchareb's Outside the Law and the construction of a new, inclusive French national identity

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At its screening in Cannes, Rachid Bouchareb's film on the Algerian war of independence, Hors la loi (Outside the Law, 2010), was met with vehement protests from veterans and French right-wing politicians who accused it of presenting an ‘anti-French’ account of this traumatic war which is still affecting many Frenchmen's attitude towards North African immigrants and their descendants. Rather than addressing the war along Manichean national allegiance lines, however, the film emphasises similarities between the Algerian fight for freedom and the French Resistance during the Second World War. Its setting in Paris among Algerian immigrants highlights the war as a shared national heritage, and through its mainstream format it invites all Frenchmen, regardless of their backgrounds, to remember this largely occulted war, in order to be able to move on ... and forget. In a postcolonial understanding of Ernest Renan's claim that the establishment and consolidation of a nation requires its individual members to forget past controversies, Outside the Law can thus be said to contribute to the construction of a new and more inclusive understanding of the French nation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalStudies in European Cinema
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)50-63
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - Algerian war of independence, Rachid Bouchareb, Hors la loi, immigration, national identity, French cinema

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