How it is characterised...

Objectives

The Nouvelle Vague directors made films based on a wide range of material — childhood memoirs, contemporary French society, student politics, classical literature and popular cinema itself — but always circled around the question of cinema, its nature and its possibilities. They founded their films on the well-expounded idea that the director of a film must be its prime author and the camera must be akin to the pen of a writer.

Style

Like the works of Cinema Vérité, which was also a guiding stylistic model for many films under this movement, French New Wave films were made on shoestring budgets and relied heavily on mobile, makeshift equipment. These films were heavily self-reflexive and blended popular film genres and literary forms. New Wave filmmakers also worked with radical editing and shooting techniques and often treated their films as a canvas for formal experimentation.

WHAT

it is…

A film movement that flourished in France from the late Fifties up to the early Seventies that was spearheaded by a bunch of film critics-turned-filmmakers. The French New Wave (aka Nouvelle Vague) was a truly iconoclastic movement in that it took a complete break from the classical French tradition, exemplified by Poetic Realism, and sought to make film a personal medium of expression.

WHO

its pioneers were...

The French New Wave was moulded by the genre pictures of Hollywood, Italian neorealism, the national literature as well as the film criticism hitherto practised by the filmmakers affiliated to the movement. The Big Five of the French New Wave are Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer and Claude Chabrol, all of whom were critics for the legendary magazine Cahiers du Cinema .

Why

it is important...

Arguably the most influential and definitely the most famous of all film movements, the tradition that the Nouvelle Vague inaugurated, both in theory and practice, still continues to dominate film culture. From the movie brats of Hollywood, who lapped up New Wave's youthful verve, to the most banal of modern day studio products, films continue to be inspired by the innovation of the New Wave, although the filmmakers associated with the movement themselves didn't hold it in high regard during their later years.

WHERE

to find it...

Jean-Luc Godard's My Life To Live (1962) deals with the day-to-day routine of a Parisian call girl called Nana (Godard's to-be-spouse Anna Karina). Amalgamating expositional documentary, traditional narrative, film essay and social realist forms, the film breaks new ground by, among other innovations, expanding the expressive range of the filmic medium.

srikanth srinivasan