French New Wave Films - Index...
The legacy of the French New Wave lives on in the highly referential work of many modern film-makers such as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Altman, Quentin Tarantino and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. [...] Stylistically and philosophically, the ideas of the French New Wave have had a huge impact on the face of modern cinema.
The nouvelle vague [New Wave] showed that, given the right circumstances, young filmmakers could change dramatically the face and reputation of a country's cinema without working their way up by the conventional routes. The nouvelle vague also showed that there were different kinds of stories to tell and radically different ways to tell them—lessons not lost on young filmmakers in Czechoslovakia or Brazil or Quebec.
While directors were at the vanguard of the New Wave, certain actors, like John-Paul Belmondo and Jean-Pierre Leaud, were also associated with this new type of cinema. The most famous face was probably Anna Karina. The former woof of Jean-Luc Godard, she starred in eight of his films and many others.
The New Wave Agenda:
1. The auteur director is also the scenarist for the film.
2. The director does not follow a strict, pre-established shooting script., leaving instead much of the filming to improvisation in the conception of sequences, dialogue, and acting.
3. The director privileges shooting in natural locations and avoids building artificial sets in the studio
Many of the French New Wave's favorite conventions actually sprang not only from artistic tenets but from necessity and circumstance. These critics-turned-filmmakers knew a great deal about film history and theory but a lot less about film production. In addition, they were, especially at the start, working on low budgets. Thus, they often improvised with what schedules and materials they could afford. Out of all this came a group of conventions that were consistently used in the majority of French New Wave films
Many characters in French New Wave movies were frequently outcasts, antiheroes, and loners […], living according to a carpe diem itinerary and performing according to their own intuition rather than a role attributed by society […]. With the breakthroughs in the expression of physical love and the explicit contemplation of sexuality as an acceptable subject matter, new characters developed into a representation of "modern romanticism"
…the New Wave has become synonymous with modernity - modernity as it is generally understood in France, in the aesthetic rather than historic sense of the term. In the matter of cinema, it is the good object of "cultivated culture"
The "godfather" of the New Wave was Henri Langlois, founder of the Cinematheque Francaise […] It was Langlois who provided the materials with which the critics of Cahiers du Cinema were to fashion a new esthetic. But the father of the New Wave was Andre Bazin. As editor of Cahiers he exerted a kind of moral force that existed separately from his own writings.
With energetic dynamism, a few young directors - several were former film critics from Cahiers du Cinema - made their first feature films with tiny budgets, skeleton crews, and amateur actors. Subsequently, these directors dramatically transformed the content and cinematic style of French film.
The French New Wave is one of the most significant film movements in the history of the cinema. During the late 1950s and early 1960s. the New Wave rejuvenated France's already prestigious cinema and energized the international art cinema as well as film criticism and theory […] The New Wave dramatically changed filmmaking inside and outside France by encouraging new styles, themes, and modes of production throughout the world.