Le Palmarès des César et des Oscar (seconde partie)
luh pahl-mah-ress day say-ZAA ray day zuss-KAAR (suh-gawd paar-TEE). Click below to hear this.
The list of award-winners at the Césars and the Oscars (part 2).
You might like to start today’s post by (re-)reading my last one, because it was part one of this post. It was all about the big winners of the 2013 Oscars and the César awards. Go ahead, I’ll wait for you!
So, now that you’ve read it…
Did you notice the interesting phenomenon that reflects the psyche of both countries, and what we all value in films? Argo wins big in the US, Amour wins even bigger in France. What does it mean?
Clearly, the French appreciate their own, and love a brilliantly-acted film that leaves you thinking for days. We Americans appreciate a good action-packed patriotic flick, but a thinker? We’re not so sure about that. And too many of us fear the subtitle.
The criss-cross pattern of awards between the two countries actually has a name. It is a rhetorical device, which means a stylistic trick that helps to convey or emphasize the underlying meaning. This particular device is called a chiasmus in English (pronounced /ki-AZZ-muss/, with a long i). It’s not to be confused with a chiasma, which is a phenomenon in genetics, having something to do with chromosomes, I think. But the origin of both words is the same: it means “like the Greek letter chi”, which is written like this in upper and lower case: Χχ.
It is admittedly a bit of a stretch to apply this linguistic term to a pair of films, but let’s play with it anyway. In language, it happens when you use two words or phrases that are the same, then invert them in the second half of the utterance. For instance, in English, a quote from Shakespeare: “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.” (Macbeth I.i) In French, a quote fro Molière that should be familiar to all: “Il faut manger pour vivre et non pas vivre pour manger.“
Do you see how this applies to our movies?
If you want to know more about chiasmus, or chiasme in French (pronounced / key-AA-smuh/), here are a couple of links: