Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Christine A. Holmlund

Committee Members

Les Essif, Sébastien Dubreil, Charles Maland


Claire Denis and François Ozon create thought-provoking, compelling, sensual films that intersect in terms of theme, genre play, and adaptation. The purpose of this study is to examine their work for points of connectivity. Phenomenology, postcolonial theory, queer theory, and globalization studies inform the analysis. As French filmmakers whose careers began at about the same time, Denis and Ozon have both produced almost a film a year. They continue to make new films. They have been grouped with other contemporary French filmmakers under labels such as New French Cinema, New French Extremity, or French Queer Cinema, yet their films have rarely been examined together. This study does just that, providing detailed analyses of fourteen films that reveal deep affinities between the two. They share narrative, thematic, and cinematic choices. Their films similarly immerse spectators in haptic experiences. They concentrate on desire, sexuality, and relationships; on violence and horrific acts; on death and dying. While Denis’s films are often concerned with the repercussions of globalized life, focusing on outsiders in urban settings in France and in formerly colonized countries around the world, and Ozon’s films frequently take place in rural locations in France, both bear witness to the complex and contradictory aspects of the quotidian lives of ordinary people. The fourteen films studied here may often provoke a sense of malaise, or melancholia, yet they also proffer enchantment, sensuality, and rare moments of beauty.

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