Friday, 7 October 2016

The French New Wave: 3 Moments of radical change

1. The Blum-Byrnes Trade Agreement Of 1946 
  • American imports were regulated during this post-war period. 
  • 13 weeks were set as the maximum number for screening purely French films. 
  • This corresponded to the production capacity of the French film industry, badly hit by lack of investment during the war. 
  • TV was slow to take off. 
  • Specialist press flourished. 
  • Serious discussion of film flourished. 
  • Most particularly “Cahiers du Cinema” (1951) 
  • Cinema in France was taken extremely seriously for the first time. 
  • Art screenings and discussions were common. 
  • Created by University drop-outs this ‘counter-culture’ attempted to position cinema within the mainstream of French and European culture. 
  • Andre Bazin, Jean-Luc Godard, Francis Truffaut (critics) 

2. The Nouvelle Vague (new wave)
  • These critics went on to make films. 
  • They dispensed with the technical hierarchies required by traditional cinema. 
  • Divisions between – producer / director / editor / cameraman / actor / writer - became blurred 
  • Worked from an idea - improvised - work on other films as (actors/writers etc) 
  • Used their own apartments instead of sets & cast friends & girlfriends in starring roles. New actors and actresses employed. 
  • Subject matter changed. Literary adaptation went out the window. They wrote about things that they knew: Relationships/lives etc. 
  • They had the look of documentaries and explored the relationship between ‘fiction’ and ‘doc’ and ‘naturalism’ and ‘formalism’.
  • They also incorporated a consciousness of the history of cinema – especially Hollywood. 
3. The Events of May 1968
  • Many Directors demonstrated against the governments proposals to take over the film organisations Cinematheque. 
  • Students/workers rioting. 
  • Nouvelle vague directors were seen to be aligned with this new political radicalism. 
  • Godard’s “Le Petit Soldat” (1960) was considered critical of the war in Algeria. Was not released till 1963. 
  • Sexual politics/Gender/Prostitution/Homophobia 
Nouvelle Vague created
  • The low budget art film 
  • The director as auteur
  • Introduced a radical approach to genre and narrative


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