b. 1949, Saumur
Her career took off as the heroine of Truffaut's La Femme d'à côté (1981), in which she starred with Depardieu. Truffaut's Vivement dimanche! (1983) was a showcase for Ardant. She also appeared in three 1980s films by Resnais (La Vie est un roman, L'Amour à mort, Mélo). She once more starred alongside Depardieu in Yves Angelo's Le Colonel Chabert, a 1994 literary heritage film echoing her role in Schlöndorff's 1984 Proust adaptation, Swann in Love. Both films exemplify her languorously romantic acting style.
See also: cinema; stars
From 1945 through to the present day, the French armed forces have undergone repeated and significant changes at a conceptual level and in terms of the tasks which they have been asked to perform. French forces have been involved in a variety of conflicts in many different theatres, most notably the counter-guerrilla wars in Indochina (1945-54) and Algeria (1954-62), but also in the abortive Suez expedition of 1956, in rapid interventions designed to maintain stability in former French colonies in sub-Saharan Africa, in humanitarian interventions in Bosnia and Rwanda, and as part of the international coalition of forces in the Gulf War.
France has been a permanent, if somewhat maverick, member of the Western Alliance-withdrawing from NATO's integrated command structure in 1966 while continuing to cooperate at a lower level. France, along with Britain and the United States, is one of only three NATO countries to possess an independent nuclear deterrent, the main impetus behind its acquisition being the (then) President de Gaulle's determination to assert, if only on a symbolic level, French strategic independence, to wean the army from its colonial preoccupations, seen as outdated, and to transform it into a modern fighting force with a more European focus.
French military forces had enjoyed a long tradition of apolitical neutrality; the Army was known as la grande muette (the great silent one) on the grounds that it did not interfere in political affairs. This tradition was shattered during the Algerian war at the time of the Generals' Putsch of 1961, when some of the most decorated and trusted men in France's armed forces openly rebelled against the regime, angered at what they saw as de Gaulle's desire to 'abandon' Algeria. The failure of the putsch was in no small part due to the reluctance of the reservists and those carrying out their compulsory period of military service in Algeria to join the revolt. From 1997 onwards, however, compulsory national service was phased out, reflecting, in part, the lowering of tension brought by the end of the Cold War. This also suggests a change of attitudes. Service in the armed forces has usually been seen as a way of ensuring that the army did not become too detached from the nation whose values it was supposed to defend, and as a moral contract between the citizen and the nation-a duty incumbent upon the citizen who, in return, received the rights and protection which citizenship conferred.
See also: decolonization; nuclear power