On 7 December 2016, Professor Sue Harris of Queen Mary University of London delivered the third annual Film Studies lecture. Entitled ‘Gérard Depardieu: On Ageing, Abjection and Late Style’, it centred on the recent star persona of the French actor, exploring the interaction between the star, the actor and his broader location within French society. Professor Harris provocatively explored Depardieu’s recent performances and his ageing body as an expression of France’s recent crisis of national identity, beset by economic contraction, post-industrialisation and an increasingly uncertain relationship with the world. In particular, the lecture drew on his recent appearances in films such as Valley of Love (Guillaume Nicloux, 2015) and Welcome to New York (Abel Ferrara, 2014), in which his unfit and abject body provides a poignant contrast to his earlier performances in films such as Les Valseuses (Bertrand Blier, 1973), which initially cemented his star persona within the French consciousness.
Followed by a lively session of questions and answers and discussion, the lecture was attended by both staff and undergraduate students alike. Organised each year by the Department of Modern Languages, the annual Film Studies lecture aims to showcase the latest research in global cinema. In common with previous speakers Professor Laura Rascaroli (University College Cork) and Professor David Martin-Jones (University of Glasgow), Professor Harris’s lecture more broadly reflected some of the teaching and research interests of the department, which covers various aspects of French film. The annual event marks the growing success of the Film Studies programme at Liverpool, which is run by lecturers in MLC, as well as staff from other departments, such as Communication and Media, Music, and Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology. Unique in its variety and breadth of film modules, the degree programme has particular strengths in European and World cinema, film sound and music, and aspects of film industry. As well as holding the annual lecture, Film Studies at Liverpool has organised events with Tate Liverpool and FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Activity).