Essay Example: How the French New Wave Movement Revolutionized Film-Making

Published: 2022-12-02
Essay Example: How the French New Wave Movement Revolutionized Film-Making
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Movie
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1423 words
12 min read

The French New Wave refers to a group of trailblazing directors that exploded the film scene in the late 1950s and they revolutionized cinematic conventions by marrying Hollywood rapid cuts with philosophical trends. This group of young directors really changed the cinema and they even rejected the traditional linear storytelling tropes and established new film language. The group was inspired by the depictions of the beloved Golden Age of Hollywood and the portrayal of the lower and common-class employees of Italian Neorealism (Marie 135). The group then became a lively influence on international cinema that is felt up to date. These directors altered the issue of script-centered and studio-bound cinema. Even though the ear was mainly popular between 1958 to 1964 they left a huge impact in filmmaking.

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Cinema turned essential in France after World War II and some of the New Wave members spent most of their time thinking and writing about it in the early years. Some of these members were film critics while some were fans but they all played an essential role in shaping and sharpening their cinematic sensibilities (Lanzoni 2017). These directors were majorly influenced by Italian realistic directors and B movies or silent movies which were imported from America. Through these works, the New Wave Directors concluded that the best films are ones that bear personal authorship stamps and are personal artistic expression products. Also, even though they admired the big studio where films were made during that time, they believed that mainstream movies do not have genuine emotion and real life. Therefore, their beliefs and self-consciousness played an important role in ensuring that various things were introduced during that time as they were so much concerned with quality.

Some of the prominent pioneers in this group included Claude Chabrol, Francois Truffaut, Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer, and Jean-Luc Godard and they began their careers while critiquing Cahiers du cinema which was a famous film magazine (Lanzoni 207). The theorist and co-founder of Cahiers Andre Bazin were regarded as the movement's source of influence. In an interview conducted in 1961, Truffaut said that the New Wave is neither a school, nor a group, nor a movement, it is a quality. The films of the French New Wave had a certain set of elements that set the films from the traditional cinemas. Additionally, there were several rebellious characters who were the center of the films. These characters had destructive behaviors, they did not have strong family bonds, and they would break rules. An example is "Breathless" where Michel stole a car in Marseille, stole their girlfriend's money, and killed a cop while going to Paris (Lanzoni 2013). The other one is Costello in "The samurai who is regarded as a professional hitman and ho stole a car and constantly murders and ran away from the police superintendent.

Through the group, there was an improvised dialogue among the films' characteristics (Cook 442). For instance, in "Breathless" there is improved dialogue at the beginning of the film when Michael is driving in the streets. Location shooting, direct sound, handled the camera, and self-reflexivity were present in the films of the French New Waves, hence, these characteristics assisted in developing auteur theory. The era of the French New Wave turned to be very influential in the international cinema and it is highly analyzed and discussed to date (Marie 131). The group highly changed the way film making was viewed during that time.

Another significant foundation of French New Wave was respect and interest for realism by constructing few sets for the films and a good number of them were mainly made on location. This issue made it easier for the filmmakers to work at small expenses as compared to the past when they had to spend a lot of money. The pioneers further pushed limits of the filmmaking technique. In Godard's usage of jump cut in which time passes with every successive cut and the space between these cuts suggests a lot of information. The technique has also influenced directors for decades. Long take was favorite for the New Wavers since it gave viewers the opportunity to immerse themselves in a location, a character's face, or the mise-en-scene.

The invention and usage of jump cut played an essential role in the revolution of film making. Jumpcut is where a scene is usually cut forward with regards to time with a split of just a second or many seconds. For instance, in the film of A Bout de Souffle (Godard) in which a character shoots another person yet the viewers only see a gun that is pointed and then there is a jump cut where the other character falls over. Godard is considered as the most prolific person who used a jump cut. Therefore, through this invention, other directors were able to adopt this new technique as it is unique.

The group of French New Wave changed the filmmaking industry by telling personal stories which reflected personal philosophies and using different narrative and visual technique to develop a new relationship among the viewers and films. The other ways in which this group changed cinema is by shooting documentary style using handled cameras and cutting the shots together with formerly unheard-of conspicuousness. Moreover, nouvelle vague toyed with the expectations of the audience so that they would look at the number of times their films acknowledged them directly. Nouvelle vague main intention was to test the audience on what a movie can be and the best way of pushing the storytelling boundaries not only with their content but also with technique. Thus, the group worked hard to ensure that they did something different that changed filmmaking and by not following the old rules. New Wave members followed new rules that enabled them to come up with several pictures including "La Jetee", "Le Beau Serge", "The 400 Blows", "Breathless", "Last Year at Marienbad", and "Cleo from 5 to 7" (Nottingham 2).

The French New Wave directors also reinvigorated film making and even gave the voiceless a voice. Through the movement, it was easy to prove that great films which can be made with low budgets outside the studio system. The experiments done in the film not only inspired France, but it also inspired filmmakers in other countries and resulted in the introduction of The New American Wave in the 1960s and 1970s. The Pioneers also made it evident to the other filmmakers that making a great film does not entail having expensive equipment and elaborating sets. However, to make a great film, the only thing needed is a vision (Nottingham 1).

The other innovations made by the French New wave group in changing film making is the lack of developing shots and close-ups usage. It should be noted that the group was not mainly concerned with the establishment of contextual and spatial relationships compared to their concerns about mise-en-scene (Lanzoni 206). Their aim was for the viewer to feel the setting used in a film and not see it necessarily. Alain Resnais used this technique most of the films. Although Resnais was older than Cahiers critics, the use this technique of close-ups was a breakthrough in "Hiroshima, Mon Amour" of 1959 proved as a revolutionary since young auteurs rose around him (Lanzoni 213). Some people were very frustrated with avant-garade nature of the movie. However, others praised the movie and said that it is a great cinematic work. The main thing that drew the film as revolutionary and masterly is the complex structure and slight documentary feel of the film. The opening scene of Hiroshima is memorable and the concept of time in the film involves several layers of time involved.

In conclusion, up to date, it is believed that the French New Wave movement played a key role in revolutionizing filmmaking. Some of the techniques introduced by the movement include rapid editing, direct sound recording, long takes, mobile cameras, improvised plotting, and dialogues, jump cuts, shooting on locations and outdoors, and natural lighting. The group was able to show the world that mainstream studios are not needed in producing great films. Furthermore, by putting emphasis on the artistic and personal vision of the movie over its worthiness as a commercial product, the movement set an example that inspired other people across the world. In every sense, the members of this movement are regarded as the founders of modern independent film.

Works Cited

Cook, David A. A history of narrative film. WW Norton & Company, 2016.

Lanzoni, Remi Fournier. French cinema: from its beginnings to the present. A&C Black, 2004.

Marie, Michel. The French new wave: An artistic school. John Wiley & Sons, 2008.

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