Tuesday, 5 February 2008

More about New Wave

Extracts from

791.4303 Hayward, Susan



NOUVELLE VAGUE: the French New Wave


New Wave film film makers rejected the cinema of the ‘50s and focussed their attention on the auteur and mise-en-scene. They were not a politicised group.

Their cinema marked a complete rupture with the 1950’s cinematic codes and conventions on both the narrative and visual level.

In terms of narrative there was often no completed or necessarily realistic stories as such, there was no beginning, middle and end- more often it was a slice of lif. There were no “stars”. The time was the ‘now ever-present’ of the ‘60s. Discourses were contemporary and about the people. Taboos around sexuality were destroyed and ‘the couple’ was presented as a complex entity with issues cenering on power relations, lack of communication and questions of identity. This representation of women was more positive, women became more central to the narrative.

Visually, the institutional iconography was deconstructed. The establishing shots which safely orient the spectator in terms of space and time, were excised. A fast editing style, achieved by jump cuts and unmatched shots, replaced the seamless editing style that had prevailed before. The newly lightweight camera abandoned the studios and went out into the streets and suburbs of Paris(the only icon not to disappear). Film stock was fast and cheap. These factors gave this cinema a sense of spontaneity..


The Second Wave was generally more politicised. Bourgeoise myths were denormalised. The consumer boom, nuclear war, Vietnam, student politics, adolescence—all were subjects for treatment. By now, the consumer boom was not about comfort/ a better way of life, but about prostituting the self in order to be better able to consume.

Both New Waves put in place a counter cinema to the standardisation effects of American technology—hand-held camera, no studio, editing practises that drew attention to themselves, no star system.

Although this cinema was criticised for its focus on the individual, it left one very important legacy. Thanks to the huge influx of filmmakers into the industry, production practices had to be reconsidered. For money to be spread around, films had to be low budget. Given the number of filmmakers, the cheaper lightweight camera came into its own. As a result there was a democratisation of the camera. This pioneering effect was to make the camera more accessible to forces formerly marginalised and by 1970s to 1980s women, Blacks and Beurs (an Arab community in France) were entering into filmmaking.

Major figures

Jean-Pierre Melville, François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol,

Éric Rohmer, Jacques Rivette, Alain Resnais, Agnes Varda, Jacques Demy


This was a movement that came into forceful being by the early 1970s although its roots go back to the early 1960s when inspired by the Nouvelle Vague, 26 young filmmakers and film critics signed the Oberhausen Manifesto in 1962. The manifesto declared its intention to create the new German feature film and promised the birth of a new cinema that would be international. This movement was directly politically motivated.

It must be remembered that the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961, effecting the division of Germany into two distinct parts—the capitalist West Germany and the communist East Germany.

New German cinema emanated from West Germany. Unlike films from East Germany, it was a cinema which attempted to come to terms with the nation’s recent past, namely the Nazi era. The motivation of the New German cinema was to give a renewed credibility to the cinematic apparatus and industry after the abuse it had received under the Nazi rule as a propaganda tool.

The new cinema strove for authentic documentary and its style was one of grainy realism.

In economic terms, this new and resisting cinema emerged at the very moment when the industry itself was in decline due to a major drop in audience numbers, thanks to the increased consumption of television sets. German audiences showed very little interest in this new indigenous product. It was left to the French and American audiences to appreciate this new and strongly politicised cinema.

Major figures

Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders,


Educated at FAMU, the Czech state film school, previously unknown filmmakers such as Milos Forman, Vera Chytilova, Jiri Menzel, Evald Schorm, and Jan Nemec began to dominate the festival circuit, creating an incredible concentration of films that ran from the politically oppositional to the lyrical to the realist to the surreal. The Czechoslovak filmmakers of the ’60s rejected the official state socialist-realist aesthetic and produced eclectic, technically skillful, and highly assured features that captured the world’s attention and resulted in two Hollywood Oscars for Best Foreign Film (The Shop on Main Street in 1965 and Closely Watched Trains in 1967). The vibrancy and experimentation of the “Czech Film Miracle,” as it is often called, reached something of a peak in the Prague Spring of 1968, when Alexander Dubcek became first secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party and instituted his policy of “socialism with a human face.” Prague Spring represented the culmination of a period of social and cultural democratization in Czechoslovakia (provoked in no small part by the ingenious and iconoclastic filmmaking of the period) and the liberal policies of the Dubcek regime afforded filmmakers unprecedented artistic freedom. Sadly, Prague Spring and the creativity it fostered came to an abrupt halt in August 1968, when Soviet tanks rolled into Prague and began the process of “normalization.” The Soviet invasion spelled the end of the Czechoslovak New Wave and the end, or temporary halt, to the careers of many of its finest directors. However, before its premature conclusion in the summer of 1968, the Czechoslovak New Wave produced a throng of daring and enduring films and remains one of the most fertile and original “new waves” in the history of film.

for more on czech new wave

Also found this nice link-->http://www.criterion.com/asp/explore.asp?id=78

1 comment:

Madhura said...

hey - thats really good info guys- but spelling mistakes :

antoine et colette
and les bisous volets