Retroactivism and futurity in 120 BPM and Théo et Hugo

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This article examines the role of retroactivism in Robin Campillo’s 120 Battements par minute (2017) and Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau’s Théo et Hugo dans le même bateau (2016). As part of a broader culture of ‘post-crisis’ representation, which reflects upon and remembers AIDS crisis, retroactivism attempts to reconcile past forms of AIDS activism with perceptions of a ‘post-AIDS’ society. I suggest that both 120 BPM and Théo et Hugo use retroactivist conventions to recast intervention strategies and represent the possibilities associated with healthy futures. In addition to dramatizing and recreating HIV intervention strategies, these films centralize the power of technological advancements to negotiate perceived futures ‘after AIDS’. They pair biomedical imagery with AIDS activism and sexual freedom to narrate a link between HIV intervention and the desire for building a life after HIV infection. My central argument is that the entanglement of crisis histories and perceived futures in 120 BPM and Théo et Hugo presents the viewer with a new way of seeing and contesting the visual cultures of AIDS crisis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-191
JournalModern and Contemporary France
Volume30
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2021

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