French film bible to go online in English

The influential French film magazine Les Cahiers du Cinema is to get an English remake after nearly 60 years in print.

The monthly review will this week launch e-Cahiers, an English-language version of the entire print magazine available online.

The March issue hits French newsstands Wednesday, with its English translation available on the Web beginning Friday at http://www.e-cahiersducinema.com.

The publisher is aiming for 3,500 full subscriptions by the end of the year, although editions will also be available on a one-off basis for a fee of $5. The French print edition sells some 25,000 copies monthly.

So what pushed the venerable Gallic review — once run by a Maoist collective — to court the Anglo-Saxon market?

“Les Cahiers has for a long time enjoyed international recognition. Today, Internet gives us the possibility to make its work accessible throughout the whole world,” said editor-in-chief Jean-Michel Frodon. “It’s a huge new market of course, but it’s also the possibility of making an original and exacting voice heard, based on the love of cinema and the belief that through it we can understand the world better.”

Les Cahiers was co-founded in 1951 by film critic Andre Bazin, and is credited with reinventing the basic tenets of film criticisms and formulating author theory. Former contributors to the review include many of those who went on to become the New Wave directors, including Eric Rohmer, Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut.

The first electronic issue contains articles on Jacques Rivette (a one-time editor of the magazine), recent influential U.S. television series and Armenian cinema, plus reviews of Berlin film festival titles “La Vie en Rose” and “The Witnesses.”

Those familiar with Les Cahiers highbrow content may well ask what is likely to be lost in translation when France’s finest critics have their prose repurposed into English.

“We don’t think that English-speakers are any less capable of reflection than French-speakers,” said Frodon. “Our team of 18 translators is made up of people familiar with Les Cahiers’ way of writing and thinking, and will make every effort to see that the English version is as faithful as possible to the original.”

The company that publishes newspaper Le Monde took a controlling stake in Les Cahiers du Cinema in 2000.

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