French New Wave

New Wave (French: La Nouvelle Vague) is a French film movement which emerged in the 1950s and 1960s. It is a form of European art cinema,[2] and is often referred to as one of the most influential movements in the history of cinema. New Wave filmmakers were linked by their self-conscious rejection of the traditional film conventions then dominating France, and by a spirit of iconoclasm. Common features of the New Wave included radical experimentation with editing, visual style, and narrative, as well as engagement with the social and political upheavals of the era.[2]

The term was first used by a group of French film critics and cinephiles associated with the magazine Cahiers du cinéma in the late 1950s and 1960s, who rejected the Tradition de qualité ("Tradition of Quality") of mainstream French cinema,[3] which "emphasized craft over innovation, privileged established directors over new directors, and preferred the great works of the past to experimentation."[4] This was apparent in a manifesto-like essay written by François Truffaut in 1954, Une certaine tendance du cinéma français, where he denounced the adaptation of safe literary works into unimaginative films.[5]

Using portable equipment and requiring little or no set up time, the New Wave way of filmmaking presented a documentary style. The films exhibited direct sounds on film stock that required less light. Filming techniques included fragmented, discontinuous editing, and long takes. The combination of objective realism, subjective realism, and authorial commentary created a narrative ambiguity in the sense that questions that arise in a film are not answered in the end.[6]

French New Wave
Years active1958 to late 1960s
CountryFrance
Major figuresAgnès Varda, Alain Resnais, André Bazin, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Demy, François Truffaut, Éric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Rivette
InfluencesItalian neorealism, film noir,[1] classical Hollywood cinema,[1] poetic realism, auteur theory, Parisian cinephile culture, existentialism, Alfred Hitchcock
Art film
InfluencedL.A. Rebellion, New Hollywood, New German Cinema, Cinema Novo, Dogme 95, British New Wave

Origins of the movement

Alexandre Astruc's manifesto "The Birth of a New Avant-Garde: The Camera-Stylo", published in L'Écran on 30 March 1948, outlined some of the ideas that were later expanded upon by François Truffaut and the Cahiers du cinéma.[7] It argues that "cinema was in the process of becoming a new means of expression on the same level as painting and the novel ... a form in which and by which an artist can express his thoughts, however abstract they may be, or translate his obsessions exactly as he does in the contemporary essay or novel. This is why I would like to call this new age of cinema the age of the caméra-stylo."[8]

Some of the most prominent pioneers among the group, including François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Éric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol, and Jacques Rivette, began as critics for the famous film magazine Cahiers du cinéma. Cahiers co-founder and theorist André Bazin was a prominent source of influence for the movement. By means of criticism and editorialization, they laid the groundwork for a set of concepts, revolutionary at the time, which the American film critic Andrew Sarris called auteur theory. (The original French La politique des auteurs, translated literally as "The policy of authors".) Bazin and Henri Langlois, founder and curator of the Cinémathèque Française, were the dual father figures of the movement. These men of cinema valued the expression of the director's personal vision in both the film's style and script.[9]

Truffaut also credits the American director Morris Engel and his film Little Fugitive (1953) with helping to start the French New Wave, when he said "Our French New Wave would never have come into being, if it hadn't been for the young American Morris Engel who showed us the way to independent production with (this) fine movie."[10]

The auteur theory holds that the director is the "author" of his movies, with a personal signature visible from film to film. They praised movies by Jean Renoir and Jean Vigo, and made then-radical cases for the artistic distinction and greatness of Hollywood studio directors such as Orson Welles, John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock and Nicholas Ray. The beginning of the New Wave was to some extent an exercise by the Cahiers writers in applying this philosophy to the world by directing movies themselves.

Apart from the role that films by Jean Rouch have played in the movement, Chabrol's Le Beau Serge (1958) is traditionally (but debatably) credited as the first New Wave feature. Truffaut, with The 400 Blows (1959) and Godard, with Breathless (1960) had unexpected international successes, both critical and financial, that turned the world's attention to the activities of the New Wave and enabled the movement to flourish. Part of their technique was to portray characters not readily labeled as protagonists in the classic sense of audience identification.

The auteurs of this era owe their popularity to the support they received with their youthful audience. Most of these directors were born in the 1930s and grew up in Paris, relating to how their viewers might be experiencing life. With high concentration in fashion, urban professional life, and all-night parties, the life of France's youth was being exquisitely captured.[11]

The French New Wave was popular roughly between 1958 and 1964, although New Wave work existed as late as 1973. The socio-economic forces at play shortly after World War II strongly influenced the movement. Politically and financially drained, France tended to fall back on the old popular pre-war traditions. One such tradition was straight narrative cinema, specifically classical French film. The movement has its roots in rebellion against the reliance on past forms (often adapted from traditional novelistic structures), criticizing in particular the way these forms could force the audience to submit to a dictatorial plot-line. They were especially against the French "cinema of quality", the type of high-minded, literary period films held in esteem at French film festivals, often regarded as "untouchable" by criticism.

New Wave critics and directors studied the work of western classics and applied new avant garde stylistic direction. The low-budget approach helped filmmakers get at the essential art form and find what was, to them, a much more comfortable and contemporary form of production. Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Howard Hawks, John Ford, and many other forward-thinking film directors were held up in admiration while standard Hollywood films bound by traditional narrative flow were strongly criticized. French New Wave is influenced by Italian Neorealism[1] and classical Hollywood cinema.[1]

In a 1961 interview, Truffaut said that "the 'New Wave' is neither a movement, nor a school, nor a group, it's a quality" and in December 1962 published a list of 162 film directors who had made their feature film debut since 1959. Many of these directors, such as Edmond Agabra and Henri Zaphiratos, were not as successful or enduring as the well-known members of the New Wave and today would not be considered part of it. Shortly after Truffaut's published list appeared, Godard publicly declared that the New Wave was more exclusive and included only Truffaut, Chabrol, Rivette, Rohmer and himself, stating that "Cahiers was the nucleus" of the movement. Godard also acknowledged filmmakers such as Resnais, Astruc, Varda and Demy as esteemed contemporaries, but said that they represented "their own fund of culture" and were separate from the New Wave.[12]

Many of the directors associated with the New Wave continued to make films into the 21st century.[13]

Film techniques

The movies featured unprecedented methods of expression, such as long tracking shots (like the famous traffic jam sequence in Godard's 1967 film Week End). Also, these movies featured existential themes, such as stressing the individual and the acceptance of the absurdity of human existence. Filled with irony and sarcasm, the films also tend to reference other films.

Many of the French New Wave films were produced on tight budgets; often shot in a friend's apartment or yard, using the director's friends as the cast and crew. Directors were also forced to improvise with equipment (for example, using a shopping cart for tracking shots.[14]) The cost of film was also a major concern; thus, efforts to save film turned into stylistic innovations. For example, in Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (À bout de souffle), after being told the film was too long and he must cut it down to one hour and a half he decided (on the suggestion of Jean-Pierre Melville) to remove several scenes from the feature using jump cuts, as they were filmed in one long take. Parts that did not work were simply cut from the middle of the take, a practical decision and also a purposeful stylistic one.[15]

The cinematic stylings of French New Wave brought a fresh look to cinema with improvised dialogue, rapid changes of scene, and shots that broke the common 180° axis of camera movement. In many films of the French New Wave, the camera was used not to mesmerize the audience with elaborate narrative and illusory images, but rather to play with audience expectations. Godard was arguably the movement's most influential figure; his method of film-making, often used to shock and awe audiences out of passivity, was abnormally bold and direct. As a result of his techniques, he is an early example of a director who was accused of having contempt for his audience (something experimental filmmakers in the decades ahead, like Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch, would also be charged with). His stylistic approach can be seen as a desperate struggle against the mainstream cinema of the time, or a degrading attack on the viewer's supposed naivety. Either way, the challenging awareness represented by this movement remains in cinema today. Effects that now seem either trite or commonplace, such as a character stepping out of their role in order to address the audience directly, were radically innovative at the time.

Classic French cinema adhered to the principles of strong narrative, creating what Godard described as an oppressive and deterministic aesthetic of plot. In contrast, New Wave filmmakers made no attempts to suspend the viewer's disbelief; in fact, they took steps to constantly remind the viewer that a film is just a sequence of moving images, no matter how clever the use of light and shadow. The result is a set of oddly disjointed scenes without attempt at unity; or an actor whose character changes from one scene to the next; or sets in which onlookers accidentally make their way onto camera along with extras, who in fact were hired to do just the same.

At the heart of New Wave technique is the issue of money and production value. In the context of social and economic troubles of a post-World War II France, filmmakers sought low-budget alternatives to the usual production methods, and were inspired by the generation of Italian Neorealists before them. Half necessity and half vision, New Wave directors used all that they had available to channel their artistic visions directly to the theatre.

Finally, the French New Wave, as the European modern Cinema, is focused on the technique as style itself. A French New Wave film-maker is first of all an author who shows in its film their own eye on the world.[16] On the other hand, the film as the object of knowledge challenges the usual transitivity on which all the other cinema was based, "undoing its cornerstones: space and time continuity, narrative and grammatical logics, the self-evidence of the represented worlds." In this way the film-maker passes "the essay attitude, thinking – in a novelist way – on his own way to do essays."[17]

Left Bank

The Left Bank, or Rive Gauche, group is a contingent of filmmakers associated with the French New Wave, first identified as such by Richard Roud.[18] The corresponding "right bank" group is constituted of the more famous and financially successful New Wave directors associated with Cahiers du cinéma (Claude Chabrol, François Truffaut, and Jean-Luc Godard).[18] Unlike the Cahiers group, these directors were older and less movie-crazed. They tended to see cinema akin to other arts, such as literature. However they were similar to the New Wave directors in that they practiced cinematic modernism. Their emergence also came in the 1950s and they also benefited from the youthful audience.[19] The two groups, however, were not in opposition; Cahiers du cinéma advocated for Left Bank cinema.[20]

Left Bank directors include Chris Marker, Alain Resnais, and Agnès Varda.[18] Roud described a distinctive "fondness for a kind of Bohemian life and an impatience with the conformity of the Right Bank, a high degree of involvement in literature and the plastic arts, and a consequent interest in experimental filmmaking", as well as an identification with the political left.[18] The filmmakers tended to collaborate with one another.[20] Jean-Pierre Melville, Alain Robbe-Grillet, and Marguerite Duras are also associated with the group.[21] The nouveau roman movement in literature was also a strong element of the Left Bank style, with authors contributing to many of the films.

Left Bank films include La Pointe Courte, Hiroshima mon amour, La jetée, Last Year at Marienbad, and Trans-Europ-Express.

Influential names in the New Wave

[22]

Cahiers du cinéma directors

Left Bank directors

Other directors associated with the movement

Other contributors

Actors and actresses

Theoretical influences

Theoretical followers

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b c d Marie, Michel. The French New Wave : An Artistic School. Trans. Richard Neupert. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2002.
  2. ^ a b [1] Archived 11 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Grant 2007, Vol. 4, p. 235.
  4. ^ Grant 2007, Vol. 2, p. 259.
  5. ^ Truffaut, Francois (16 April 2018). "Une certaine tendance du cinéma français" (PDF).
  6. ^ Thompson, Kristin. Bordwell, David. Film History: An Introduction, Third Edition. McGraw Hill. 2010, p.407–408.
  7. ^ "La Camera Stylo - Alexandre Astruc". from "The French New Wave", edited by Ginette Vincendeau and Peter Graham. 30 March 1948. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  8. ^ Marie, Michel (2008). The French New Wave: An Artistic School. John Wiley & Sons. p. 31. ISBN 9780470776957.
  9. ^ Thompson, Kristin. Bordwell, David. Film History: An Introduction, Third Edition. McGraw Hill. 2010, p.407
  10. ^ Sterritt, David. "Lovers and Lollipops". TCM.com. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  11. ^ Thompson, Kristin. Bordwell, David. Film History: An Introduction, Third Edition. McGraw Hill. 2010, p.409
  12. ^ Brody, Richard (2008). Everything is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard. New York, NY: Metropolitan Books. pp. 122–123. ISBN 978-0-8050-8015-5.
  13. ^ Scott, A. O. (25 June 2009). "Living for Cinema, and Through It". The New York Times.
  14. ^ Champs-Élysées street scene in Godard's Breathless. Girdner, Ashlee (11 March 2013). "Back to the Scene: The Champs Elysees in Breathless and Beyond". Bonjour Paris. Retrieved 2 April 2016. The solution for this was to hide Coutard inside of a three wheeled mail cart, which was fitted with a hole just big enough for the camera lens to stick out, and he then would be pushed alongside the chatting stars.
  15. ^ "Breathless (1960)" – via www.imdb.com.
  16. ^ Pasolini, Pier Paolo (1988–2005). Heretical empiricism. New Academia Publishing. p. 187 of the Italian Edition published by Garzanti in 1972. ISBN 9780976704225. ISBN 0-9767042-2-6.
  17. ^ Sainati, Augusto (1998). Supporto, soggetto, oggetto: forme di costruzione del sapere dal cinema ai nuovi media, in Costruzione e appropriazione del sapere nei nuovi scenari tecnologici (in Italian). Napoli: CUEN. pp. 154–155.
  18. ^ a b c d "The Left Bank Revisited: Marker, Resnais, Varda", Harvard Film Archive, [2] Access date: 16 August 2008.
  19. ^ Thompson, Kristin. Bordwell, David. Film History: An Introduction, Third Edition. McGraw Hill. 2010, p.412
  20. ^ a b Jill Nelmes, An Introduction to Film Studies, p. 44. Routledge.
  21. ^ Donato Totaro, Offscreen, Hiroshima Mon Amour review, 31 August 2003. [3] Access date: 16 August 2008.
  22. ^ a b New Wave Film.com, "Where to Start Guide", section outlining directors. Accessed 30 Apr 2009.

External links

Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda (French: [aɲɛs vaʁda]; 30 May 1928 – 29 March 2019) was a Belgian-born French film director, photographer and artist. Her work was pioneering for, and central to, the development of the widely influential French New Wave film movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Her films focused on achieving documentary realism, addressing feminist issues, and/or producing other social commentary, with a distinctive experimental style.

Varda's work employed location shooting in an era when the limitations of sound technology made it easier and more common to film indoors, with constructed sets and painted backdrops of landscapes, rather than the real thing. Her use of non-professional actors was also unconventional in the context of 1950s French cinema. Among other awards and nominations, she received an honorary Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, an Academy Honorary Award, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Anna Karina

Anna Karina (born Hanne Karin Bayer, 22 September 1940) is a Danish-French film actress, director, writer, and singer. She rose to prominence as French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard's muse in the 1960s, performing in several of his films, including The Little Soldier (1960), A Woman Is a Woman (1961), Vivre sa vie (1962), Band of Outsiders (1964), and Pierrot le Fou and Alphaville (both 1965). For her performance in A Woman Is a Woman, Karina won the Silver Bear Award for Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival.In 1972, Karina set up a production company for her directorial debut, Vivre ensemble (1973), which screened in the Critics’ Week lineup at the 26th Cannes Film Festival. She also directed the French-Canadian film Victoria (2008). In addition to her work in cinema, she has worked as a singer, and has written several novels in French.Karina is widely considered an icon of 1960s cinema. The New York Times has described her as "one of the screen’s great beauties and an enduring symbol of the French New Wave."

Auteur

An auteur (; French: [otœʁ], lit. 'author') is an artist, usually a film director, who applies a highly centralized and subjective control to many aspects of a collaborative creative work; in other words, a person equivalent to an author of a novel or a play. The term is commonly referenced to filmmakers or directors with a recognizable style or thematic preoccupation.Auteurism originated in the French film criticism of the late 1940s as a value system that derives from the film criticism approach of André Bazin and Alexandre Astruc—dubbed auteur theory by the American critic Andrew Sarris. The concept was invented to distinguish French New Wave filmmakers from studio-system directors that were part of the Hollywood establishment, and has since been applied to producers of popular music as well as to video game creators.

Cinema Novo

Cinema Novo (Portuguese pronunciation: [siˈne.mɐ ˈno.vu]) is a genre and movement of film noted for its emphasis on social equality and intellectualism that rose to prominence in Brazil during the 1960s and 1970s. It means "New Cinema" in Portuguese, which is the official language of Brazil, the movement's "home". Cinema Novo formed in response to class and racial unrest both in Brazil and the United States. Influenced by Italian neorealism and French New Wave, films produced under the ideology of Cinema Novo opposed traditional Brazilian cinema, which consisted primarily of musicals, comedies and Hollywood-style epics. Glauber Rocha is widely regarded as Cinema Novo's most influential filmmaker. Today, the movement is often divided into three sequential phases that differ in tone, style and content.

Cinema of Switzerland

The film industry based in Switzerland dates to the 1930s. It is influenced by the neighboring countries of France, Germany and Italy, with which it shares languages. Before the mid-1960s Swiss films were often sentimental, but the French New Wave led to more experimental cinema.The Solothurn Film Festival was founded in 1966 with a declaration of showing the modern reality of Swiss Life. It is the most important festival for Swiss film productions.The Locarno Festival founded in 1946 is an annual film festival held every August in Locarno, Switzerland.

As of 2014, The Swissmakers (1978) (Die Schweizermacher) is the highest grossing Swiss movie of all time.In German-speaking cantons, French-language films usually have German subtitles. Likewise, in French-speaking cantons, German-language films usually have French subtitles. Adult-oriented films in foreign languages are often screened with original audio and double subtitles in German and French. Children-oriented films in foreign languages are usually dubbed.

François Truffaut

François Roland Truffaut (French: [fʁɑ̃.swa ʁɔ.lɑ̃ tʁyfo]; 6 February 1932 – 21 October 1984) was a French film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, and film critic. He is widely regarded as one of the founders of the French New Wave. In a film career lasting over a quarter of a century, he remains an icon of the French film industry, having worked on over 25 films. Truffaut's film The 400 Blows came to be a defining film of the French New Wave movement, and was followed by four sequels, Antoine et Colette, Stolen Kisses, Bed and Board, and Love on the Run, between 1958 and 1979.

Truffaut's 1973 film Day for Night earned him critical acclaim and several accolades, including the BAFTA Award for Best Film and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. His other notable films include Shoot the Piano Player (1960), Jules et Jim (1961), The Wild Child (1970), Two English Girls (1971), and The Woman Next Door (1981).

Georges de Beauregard

Georges de Beauregard (23 December 1920 Marseille – 10 September 1984 Paris) was a French film producer who produced works by many of the French New Wave directors. In 1968, he was a member of the jury at the 18th Berlin International Film Festival. In 1983 he was awarded a Special César Award, the French national film prize.

Jean Gruault

Jean Gruault (3 August 1924 – 8 June 2015) was a French screenwriter and actor. He wrote 25 films between 1960 and 1995. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Screenplay for the 1980 film Mon oncle d'Amérique. He was born in Fontenay-sous-Bois, Paris.

Jules and Jim

Jules and Jim (French: Jules et Jim [ʒyl e dʒim]) is a 1962 French New Wave romantic drama film, directed, produced and written by François Truffaut. Set around the time of World War I, it describes a tragic love triangle involving French Bohemian Jim (Henri Serre), his shy Austrian friend Jules (Oskar Werner), and Jules's girlfriend and later wife Catherine (Jeanne Moreau).

The film is based on Henri-Pierre Roché's 1953 semi-autobiographical novel describing his relationship with young writer Franz Hessel and Helen Grund, whom Hessel married.

Truffaut came across the book in the mid-1950s whilst browsing through some secondhand books at a shop along the Seine in Paris. Later he befriended the elderly Roché, who had published his first novel at the age of 74. The author approved of the young director's interest to adapt his work to another medium.

The film won the 1962 Grand Prix of French film prizes, the Étoile de Cristal, and Jeanne Moreau won that year's prize for best actress.

The film ranked 46 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" in 2010. The soundtrack by Georges Delerue was named as one of the "10 best soundtracks" by Time magazine in its "All Time 100 Movies" list.

Le Beau Serge

Le Beau Serge (French pronunciation: ​[lə bo sɛʁʒ], meaning "Handsome Serge") is a French film directed by Claude Chabrol, released in 1958. It has been cited as the first product of the Nouvelle Vague, or French New Wave, film movement. The film is often compared with Chabrol's subsequent film Les Cousins, which also features Jean-Claude Brialy and Gérard Blain.

Le Bonheur (1965 film)

Le Bonheur ("Happiness") is a 1965 French drama film directed by Agnès Varda. The film is associated with the French New Wave and won two awards at the 15th Berlin International Film Festival, including the Jury Grand Prix.

Les Mistons

Les Mistons (The Mischief Makers) is a short film directed by François Truffaut in 1957. It was his second film after Une Visite in 1955 but it is considered his "first short film of any real consequence". Truffaut simply called it "my first real film". Moreover, it was Bernadette Lafont's film debut. She was at that time Gérard Blain's wife. The film demonstrates already some examples for Truffaut's "trademark tracking shots" and would "help define his style" as well as "set Truffaut on a path for his career". Truffaut's narrative stresses the details of life, hereby establishing one of the traits of the French New Wave. Thus he also became a predecessor of French film directors such as Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amélie). It has been stated that the formation of the French New Wave could be "tracked through two short films": Jean-Luc Godard's All the Boys Are Called Patrick and Truffaut's Les Mistons. In 2013 the Museum of Modern Art in New York City screened this film together with Truffaut's The 400 Blows.

Les Rita Mitsouko

Les Rita Mitsouko (The Rita Mitsoukos) was a French pop rock group formed by the guitarist Fred Chichin and the singer Catherine Ringer. The duo first performed as Rita Mitsouko at Gibus Club in Paris in 1980. They went on to become one of the most acclaimed musical acts in France. "Marcia Baila", their debut single produced by Conny Plank, went to number 2 in the French singles chart in 1984. They then started a collaboration with producer Tony Visconti on two albums: the No Comprendo and Marc & Robert. "Singing in the Shower", sung as a duet with Sparks, was a commercial success in France and was then heavily played on US dance radio stations in 1988. Iggy Pop also collaborated with them on 1993’s Système D, duetting with Ringer on "My Love Is Bad".Chichin died from cancer in 2007. Instead of continuing as Les Rita Mitsouko, Ringer completed a final tour, "Catherine Ringer chante Les Rita Mitsouko and more" (Catherine Ringer sings Les Rita Mitsouko and more), and started a solo career.

Luc Moullet

Luc Moullet (French: [mulɛ]; born 14 October 1937 in Paris) is a French film critic and filmmaker, and a member of the Nouvelle Vague or French New Wave. Moullet's films are known for their humor, anti-authoritarian leanings and rigorously primitive aesthetic, which is heavily influenced by his love of American B-movies.

Though such influential filmmakers and critics as Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Marie Straub, Jacques Rivette and Jonathan Rosenbaum have consistently praised his work, he has never found commercial success, even in his native France.

Moullet is known to frequently act in his movies.

New German Cinema

New German Cinema (German: Neuer Deutscher Film) is a period in German cinema which lasted from the late 1960s into the 1980s. It saw the emergence of a new generation of directors. Working with low budgets, and influenced by the French New Wave, such directors as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Alexander Kluge, Harun Farocki, Volker Schlöndorff, Helma Sanders-Brahms, Werner Schroeter, Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, Margarethe von Trotta and Wim Wenders made names for themselves and produced a number of "small" motion pictures that caught the attention of art house audiences, and enabled these directors (particularly Wenders and Schlöndorff) to create better-financed productions which were backed by the big US studios. However, most of the films were commercial failures and, by 1977, 80% of a budget for a typical German film was ensured by a subsidy.Most of the directors of the New German Cinema movement were members of their self-owned Filmverlag der Autoren association founded in 1971, which funded and distributed most of their films, and the history of New German Cinema from the 1970s onwards was largely identical with it.

Poetic realism

Poetic realism was a film movement in France of the 1930s. More a tendency than a movement, poetic realism is not strongly unified like Soviet montage or French Impressionism but were individuals who created this lyrical style. Its leading filmmakers were Pierre Chenal, Jean Vigo, Julien Duvivier, Marcel Carné, and, perhaps the movement's most significant director, Jean Renoir. Renoir made a wide variety of films some influenced by the leftist Popular Front group and even a lyrical short feature film. Frequent stars of these films were Jean Gabin, Michel Simon, Simone Signoret, and Michèle Morgan.

Poetic realism films are "recreated realism", stylised and studio-bound, rather than approaching the "socio-realism of the documentary". They usually have a fatalistic view of life with their characters living on the margins of society, either as unemployed members of the working class or as criminals. After a life of disappointment, the characters get a last chance at love but are ultimately disappointed again and the films frequently end with disillusionment or death. The overall tone often resembles nostalgia and bitterness. They are "poetic" because of a heightened aestheticism that sometimes draws attention to the representational aspects of the films. Though these films were weak in the production sector, French cinema did create a high proportion of influential films largely due to the talented people in the industry in the 1930s who were working on them. The most popular set designer was Lazare Meerson. Composers who worked on these films included Georges Auric, Arthur Honegger, Joseph Kosma, and Maurice Jaubert. Screenwriters who contributed to many of the films included Charles Spaak and Jacques Prévert. The movement had a significant impact on later film movements, in particular Italian neorealism (many of the neorealists, most notably Luchino Visconti, worked with poetic realist directors before starting their own careers as film critics and directors) and the French New Wave.

Robert Bresson

Robert Bresson (French: [ʁɔbɛʁ bʁɛsɔ̃]; 25 September 1901 – 18 December 1999) was a French film director. Known for his ascetic approach, Bresson contributed notably to the art of cinema; his non-professional actors, ellipses, and sparse use of scoring have led his works to be regarded as preeminent examples of minimalist film.

Bresson is among the most highly regarded filmmakers of all time. His works A Man Escaped (1956), Pickpocket (1959) and Au hasard Balthazar (1966) were ranked among the 100 greatest films ever made in the 2012 Sight & Sound critics' poll. Other films of his, such as Mouchette (1967) and L'Argent (1983), also received many votes. Jean-Luc Godard once wrote, "He is the French cinema, as Dostoevsky is the Russian novel and Mozart is German music."

Simulacrum

A simulacrum (plural: simulacra from Latin: simulacrum, which means "likeness, similarity") is a representation or imitation of a person or thing. The word was first recorded in the English language in the late 16th century, used to describe a representation, such as a statue or a painting, especially of a god. By the late 19th century, it had gathered a secondary association of inferiority: an image without the substance or qualities of the original. Literary critic Fredric Jameson offers photorealism as an example of artistic simulacrum, where a painting is sometimes created by copying a photograph that is itself a copy of the real. Other art forms that play with simulacra include trompe-l'œil, pop art, Italian neorealism, and French New Wave.

The 400 Blows

The 400 Blows (French: Les Quatre Cents Coups) is a 1959 French New Wave drama film, shot in DyaliScope and the debut by director François Truffaut; it stars Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, and Claire Maurier. One of the defining films of the French New Wave, it displays many of the characteristic traits of the movement. Written by Truffaut and Marcel Moussy, the film is about Antoine Doinel, a misunderstood adolescent in Paris who struggles with his parents and teachers due to his rebellious behavior. Filmed on location in Paris and Honfleur, it is the first in a series of five films in which Léaud plays the semi-autobiographical character.

The 400 Blows received numerous awards and nominations, including the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Director, the OCIC Award, and a Palme d'Or nomination in 1959. The film was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing in 1960. The 400 Blows had 4.1 million admissions in France, making it Truffaut's most successful film in his home country.The 400 Blows is widely considered one of the best French films in the history of cinema; in the 2012 Sight & Sound critics' poll of the greatest films ever made, it was ranked 39th.

French New Wave
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