TCF112/French New Wave

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Three godfathers of the Auteur Theory & the New Wave

(See lecture notes on Auteur Theory)

  1. Henri Langlois -- Cinématheque Française
  2. André Bazin -- Cahiers du Cinéma
  3. Alexandre Astruc -- caméra stylo

1959-60 New Wave (Nouvelle Vague) breaks

  1. Alain Resnais, Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959)
  2. François Truffaut, The 400 Blows (1959)
    • Author of "A Certain Tendency in the French Cinema" (Cahiers du Cinéma, 1954)
  3. Jean-Luc Godard, Breathless (shot in '59, released January '60)

Jean-Luc Godard

  • b. 1930
  • 1946-55 odd jobs at studios, beginnings of film criticism
    • Gazette du Cinéma (1950, only 5 issues)
    • Cahiers (1952 on)
    • Characteristics of Godard's Criticism
      1. Attacked "Tradition of Quality"
      2. Auteurist re-evaluation of US Film
      3. Emphasis on visual style
      4. Eclectic points of reference
  • 1st Feature film
    • Breathless, directed in '59, released in January 1960
  • 1960-'68 one-two films per year
    • Reinvented "language" of the cinema, rejects classical cinema
      • Hand-held camera
      • Location shooting
      • Jump cuts
      • Direct looks at the camera
      • Graphics (text and images)
      • References to other films
    • Bertolt Brecht -- Epic Theatre
      • Playwright/theorist
      • German, trans. into French in early 60s
      • Cahiers issue on Brecht in '62
      • Against Aristotle, against Dramatic Theater
      • Alienation effect -- Verfremdungseffekt
        • Rejects strong identification
        • Distanciation
        • Marxist revolution
        • Russian Formalists in ‘20s
          • Ostranenie
          • Defamiliarization--making the familiar strange
    • Vivre Sa Vie (1962) = Brechtian film?
      • Godard sees:
        Dramatic theater = classical cinema
        Epic theater = counter cinema
      • Narrative
        • Breaks story into 12 sections (narrative segmentation)
        • Digressions
        • Quotations
          • E.g., Edgar Allen Poe's The Oval Portrait
        • Aperture (not closed)
      • Visual Style
        • Cinematography
          • Unconventional framing
          • Extremely long takes
          • Jump cut
            • Opposite of the match cut
          • Direct looks at the camera
  • May 1968 France nears socialist Revolution
    • Strongly affects Godard and other New Wave filmmakers