I don’t have a Twitter (don’t judge me, it stresses me out), but I am on a mission, a journey perhaps, to find what you (the tweeter) have to say about French cinema. So I am deciding to set aside my anxiety and venture down the path of a ‘Twitter Search’ in hopes of finding the Promise Land. The search is easy. All that I have to do is type “French cinema” and, voila!
What do we have here? People tweeting about French New Wave Cinema. Great!
Wait, what is French New Wave Cinema?
My investigation continues…
La Nouvelle vague, or French New Wave, is a movement that has its genesis back in the late 1950s in a France left destitute of funds from the Nazi occupation of decades past. It opposed the old French traditions of filmmaking that have been described as “more literature than cinema.” Instead, New Wave was a movement of directors more interested in showing the story by means of camerawork. It is also noted as being the forbearer of jump cuts (slight changes in the angle of a camera on the same object) and the de-emphasis of linear structure. One blogger writes:
Besides directing films, the directors also play a role as the author. They used film as a medium to express their thinking, feeling, and criti[que] things that happened around them.
Personally, the style is a little confusing to understand on paper. But the style is best seen rather than read. Here is a good example of the popular “are you talking to me?” scene in Taxi Driver juxtaposed with the same scene transmogrified into French New Wave style.
See the difference?
I like the style, but unfortunately it formally died out decades ago. So why is there still talk about it today?
Looks as if I am going to have to have venture a bit further if I want to find Shangri-La.
It turns out that French New Wave has left its imprint on much of the cinema world today. One of Quinton Tarantino’s favorite films is Band of Outsiders by Jean-Luc Godard, a highly influential New Wave director. Pulp Fiction’s diner dance scene is replicated from Band of Outsiders’ café scene, and Tarantino’s production company, A Band Apart, takes its name from Godard’s French title for his film, Bande à part. But Tarantino isn’t the only high profile director branded by the techniques of French New Wave Cinema. Martin Scorsese has been highly influenced by French New Wave and has incorporated it into many of his films.
Tarantino and Scorsese are great, but this topic really hit home when all of my searching suggested that one of my personal favorites, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, is considered a modern French New Wave film.
It’s difficult to explain on paper, but look at the examples. Do you like them? Do films that you like have similar scenes?
Does French New Wave truly have an influence on today’s movies or were the Twitter Search results just incidental?