Tag Archives: Diva

XL Popcorn – Diva

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 871/1009Title: Diva
Director: Jean-Jacques Beineix
Year: 1981
Country: France

Diva is credited as being the influential film of the French Cinéma du look movement – where style and spectacle were to be prioritised over a sense of realism. Essentially, Diva is to thank for the sudden uptick in my feelings towards French cinema. I had always wondered how we got from the New Wave (which I have a hard time with) with later French cinema which were some of the first foreign language films I adored.

Guess I have my answer now – it was Diva, which would be enough to forgive this film of any sins that it committed. Good thing that it didn’t commit any other than providing one of the most interesting chase sequences that I have ever seen and taking some cool film noir elements and making them blue – a film bleu if you will.

In classic noir tropes, you have an innocent man being involved in a criminal plot as he accidentally comes into possession of an incriminating cassette tape that could destroy a crime syndicate. He also has, in his possession, a rare pirated recording of an opera singer – the titular Diva – who refuses to allow a recording of her singing be made of her.

It’s a story of chase, blackmail, double crosses and tension – whilst still being unmistakably French in how it creates mood and scenes. This collision and birth of genre has an interesting side effect – it makes this film feel pretty ageless. Take the technological constraints out and you don’t necessarily realize that this is an eighties film – unlike A Question of Silence whose own eightiesness both aged it and ruined it.

Given how much of a departure it was from realism (and with two more Godard films left on the list, I know I have a long way to go before my own departure), I can see how this would have been better received abroad than in its native France. Thankfully it has gained in standing since and stands in the French pantheon as a great example of a French-language thriller.