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Nouvelle Vague (film)

Related: André Bazin - Cahiers du cinéma - French cinema - 1960s - 1970s

Related: Jean-Luc Godard - François Truffaut - Alain Resnais - Jacques Rivette - Eric Rohmer - Jean Eustache

Influenced by: Italian Neorealism

Key films: Jules et Jim (1962)

The 1960s French Nouvelle Vague style coincided with the collapse of the Hollywood studio system. Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and the films of New Hollywood directors (e.g. Altman, Coppola, De Palma and Scorsese) were inspired by their European (and in particular French) counterparts. The latest American director who admits a influence of the French new wave is Quentin Tarantino.

The term French New Wave or La Nouvelle Vague refers to the work of a group of French film-makers between the years 1958 to 1964. The film directors who formed the core of this group, François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Rivette and Eric Rohmer, were once all film critics for the magazine Cahiers du Cinéma. Other French directors, including Agnés Varda and Louis Malle, soon became associated with the French New Wave movement. This essay examines what was distinctive about the early films of these directors. --Stephen Nottingham via http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Stephen_Nottingham/cintxt2.htm [Apr 2005]

Jules et Jim (1962) - François Truffaut [Amazon.com]

The New Wave (French: Nouvelle vague)

The New Wave (French: Nouvelle vague) of French cinema was a cinematic style of the 1960s.

The writers of the magazine Cahiers du cinéma decided to apply their theories of the auteur — the director as the center of all moviemaking — to the world by directing movies themselves. Former writers of the magazine such as François Truffaut with his The 400 Blows (1959) and Jean-Luc Godard with Breathless (1960) marked the beginning of this era. Other directors included Claude Chabrol.

The movies featured hitherto unprecedented methods of expression, such as seven minute tracking shots.

The style had an impact on American movies as well. After Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde (1967) the New Hollywood directors (e.g. Altman, Coppola, De Palma and Scorsese) of the late 1960s/early 1970s made movies inspired by their European (and in particular French) counterparts. The latest American director who admits a serious influence of the French new wave is Quentin Tarantino. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_new_wave [Oct 2004]

Post-World War II: 1940s-1970s
In the critical magazine Cahiers du cinéma founded by André Bazin, critics and lovers of film would discuss film and why it worked. Modern film theory was born there. Additionally, Cahiers critics such as Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, etc. went on to make films themselves, creating what was to become known as the French New Wave. Some of the first movies of this new genre was Truffaut's The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cent Coups, 1959) starring Jean-Pierre Léaud and Godard's Breathless (À bout de souffle, 1960), starring Jean-Paul Belmondo. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinema_of_France#Post-World_War_II:_1940s-1970s [Oct 2004]

Last Wave of Modernism and the First Wave of Postmodernism

By 1975 la Nouvelle Vague was beginning to mellow, and to lose influence in world film culture. The hip critics were writing more about new German directors like Fassbinder, Herzog, and Wenders, and about third-world film. But, whatever their virtues, Das Neue Kino, African, and South American cinema didn't have the same intellectual focus or polemical force as the French cinema of the sixties that we called the New Wave.

With hindsight we can see that the films of Godard, Truffaut, and their colleagues in the 1960s were at once the last wave of Modernism and the first wave of Postmodernism. What an exciting position to be in! As Modernists, they were the last of the iconoclasts, inventing new forms (cinema-vérité, personal essay cinema, long-form cinema, contes moraux, anti-image movies). As Postmodernists, they defined themselves against early twentieth-century Modernism.

Having begun their careers as critics, Godard, Truffaut, and the other filmmakers invented the self-referential Postmodernist pose that became the norm for the remainder of the century. There work was original (Modern) at the same time that it was self-aware (Postmodern). The mix of fiction and nonfiction, narrative and essay, naïveté and cynicism is unique. --James Monaco, January 2001, http://www.readfilm.com/newwave.html [Jun 2004]

Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) - Alain Resnais

See entry on Alain Resnais

Jules and Jim (1962) - François Truffaut

See entry on Jules et Jim (1962)

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