Cine-cartography: The Cinematic in Paul Vidal de la Blache
In this paper I argue that early French cinema and human geography were in many ways coextensive, drawing on many of the same resources and virtues of the languages that inform them. Using Paul Vidal de la Blache’s 1894 Atlas-général, I argue that Vidal’s maps represent the equivalent of individual shots in film and that the relationship between the maps is best understood using early theorizations of montage in cinema. Vidal’s own language provides a vocabulary for other scholars including Henri Bergson and Gilles Deleuze, who saw cinema and geography in similar terms. By reading images of France as dynamic rather than static, Vidal provides a mobile composite of information compiled from a host of images that together generate a meaningful narrative of French identity. Such a reading, I argue, means that the image of France is not fixed but open to many possibilities.