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Celia Nicholls

Henri Langlois and the Invention of Film History: The Cinémathèque Française and World Film Culture

Supervisor: Alastair Phillips

WPRS funded

My PhD thesis explores and evaluates the specific contributions of Henri Langlois and the Cinémathèque française to French and international film culture from the 1930s to the 1960s, with special emphasis on the question of the role Langlois’ archive played in the the historicisation of cinema as an aesthetic and social medium. While the Cinémathèque has long been acknowledged as the catalyst for the artistic innovations of the Nouvelle Vague, and for the politically charged événements of May 1968, there has, thus far, been little investigation into the precise mechanisms of its substantial and wide-ranging cultural influence. In the context of a broad conceptual shift that occurred from the mid 1930s onwards, which saw cinema develop from an ephemeral commercial product into something of lasting historical importance to be preserved, exhibited, and studied, my work examines what I perceive to be the intellectual work performed by Langlois in establishing the Cinémathèque’s research agenda, its collections of film and related material, and the theory and practice of its programmes of exhibition and dissemination of ideas.

My research interests include the history and politics of film preservation and of European and world archival film culture; issues surrounding the definition of the national and the transnational, the relationship between the populist and the elitist, and popular and critical canonization in the context of cinema culture; interwar and Occupation-era French cinema and film criticism; and film historiography. Topics I am interesting in pursuing in the future include the history the International Federation of Film Archives/Fédération Internationale des Archives du Film (FIAF), and the role of FIAF in fostering international cultural exchange and understanding during the Cold War; the history and development of Latin American and non-western film cultures; the interactions and exchange between popular and art cinema in France and India; and transnationalism and specificity in the cinema of Alain Resnais.


-Member of the Pordenone Silent Film Festival Student Collegium, 2011, 2012 (Pordenone, Italy) Paper forthcoming at <>

-Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France Annual Conference 2011: ‘Continuities and Discontinuities,’ University of Stirling, 1-3 September 2011

-Screen Studies Conference 2011: ‘Repositioning Screen History,’ University of Glasgow, 1-3 July 2011

-Co-organiser of Kaleidoscope: New Perspectives on the Humanities, University of Warwick, 28-29 May, 2011

-Graduate Research Seminar, Department of Film and Television Studies, University of Warwick, 9 February 2011

-Participant in the ‘Histories of the Digital Future’ E-seminar, a collaboration between University of Warwick, and Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, 2011

-Invited speaker for panel discussion on African cinema and Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Badou Boy (1970), on the occasion of the screening of the film at the Cultural eXchanges Festival, DeMontfort University, 1-5 March 2010.

Refereed Publications

(Co-authored with Richard Wallace) “NECS Conference 2011, King’s College and Birkbeck, University of London, 23-26 June,” Scope: An Online Journal of Film & TV Studies 21 (October 2011), <>

“Profiles of Irish Canadians: Brian Moore/Profils des Canadiens irlandais: Brian Moore,” The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies/Revue canadienne d’études irlandaises 29:2 (Fall 2003), 64-67.

Other Publications

-Contributor to The Animated Films of Pritt Pärn (Metro Cinema Publications 2, 2003).