Charles Drazin has succeeded in writing a history of French cinema that can be read from beginning to end. Of all the varieties of writing about film, with the exception of some niche scholarship, chronological history is the one least characterised by readability; so Drazin’s achievement is considerable, and extremely welcome.
Drazin’s best decision is to spare the reader a torrent of titles. He has divided his narrative, which covers 120 years, into nineteen chapters, each of which examines a period in French film. These are evoked with a handful of carefully chosen anecdotes and examples. His chapter ‘The