Chronicling one of the greatest and most popular national cinemas, "Republic of Images" traces the evolution of French filmaking from 1895 - the year of the debut of the Cinematographe in Paris - to the present day. Alan Williams offers a synthesis of history, biography, aesthetics, and film theory. He aims to bring to life all of the major directors, setting before us the cultures from which they emerged, and sheds new light on the landmark films they created. He distills what is historically and artistically unique in each of their careers and reveals what each artist has in common with the forebears and heirs of the craft. Within the larger story of French cinema, Williams examines the treasury of personal expression, social commentary, and aesthetic exploration that France has produced so consistently and exported so well. It is the tale of an industry rife with crises, and Williams offers a narrative of the economic, political, and social forces that have shaped its century-long history. He provides biographical sketches of filmmakers from the early pioneers of the silent era such as Louis Lumiere and Alice Guy to modern directors such as Louis Malle, Claude Chabrol, and Francois Truffaut. Some of their careers, he shows, exemplify the significant contributions individuals made to the development of French filmmaking; others yield illuminating evidence of the problems and opportunities of a whole gerneration of filmmakers. Throughout, he presents critical analyses of significant films, from the "Assassination of the Duc de Guise" (1908) to works by the post "nouvelle vague" directors.