The iconography of the summer vacation in Julie Delpy’s "Le Skylab" (2011)
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Set over a weekend in the July summer holidays, Le Skylab (Julie Delpy 2011) depicts a typical family gathering in the late 1970s. On the occasion of her grandmother’s birthday, eleven-year-old Albertine and her parents travel by train from Paris to spend the weekend in Brittany with her extended family. The film is loosely autobiographical and is in part an evocation of Delpy’s own childhood; yet it nonetheless offers a universalised image of its milieu. Visually, Delpy’s film can best be described as an impression (in the sense given the term in relation to painting) of a summer weekend spent in Brittany in which Delpy draws on a cultural storehouse of images and tropes to construct a milieu at once particular and universally western, which captures a certain time and place and also offers a more generalised and relatable representation of the summer vacation through its recognisable images and themes. Taking an iconographical approach, this article is primarily a pictorial or compositional analysis of the representation of the summer vacation in Le Skylab. The focus is on two main motifs or tropes of the summer vacation: the summer place and the beach. It will also consider typical tropes and themes of the summer vacation narrative including arrival, summer romance, anticipation and departure.
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