February 17, 2021

Meaning of French new wave and how it impacted cinema.

The French New Wave also known as “Nouvelle Vague” that took place more than 60 years ago, is one of the most influential film movements in the history of cinema. This revolutionary movement that took place during the 20th century created a long-standing impact on cinemas that existed in many other countries around the world.

The French New Wave

The French New Wave from the 1950s and 60s began as a French art film movement against the traditional and literature-style French Cinema. It brought a radical change to mainstream filmmaking and brought forth a highly self-aware cinema. The movement gave a new voice and direction to many producers, directors, scriptwriters, and actors, among others involved in filmmaking.

A group of French critics, who wrote for the journal—Cahiers du Cinema, were of the opinion that films did not capture true emotions or how people actually live. This stirred a movement of New Wave filmmakers to explore storytelling and narratives, visual styles, film shooting and editing, as well as depicting new and interesting movie themes that explore human emotions. The French New Wave inspired many to tell their stories, and grew interest and respect for realism.

A vision is all you really need to make a great film. The concept of auteur theory, an artistic philosophy that recognizes film as an outcome of the director’s creative imagination and aesthetic vision, inspired the French New Wave filmmakers to acknowledge directors’ artistic creation on par with the creativity of writers and painters.

It is important to note that the French New Wave was stimulated by the socio-cultural change that happened post World War II. Above that, the movement received tremendous support from the youth, and most of the New Wave directors were in their late 20s and early 30s. They had a clear understanding about life in Paris, and they brought forth their own experiences and radical inputs to assist in overall filmmaking.

Impact of French New Wave on Cinema

The French New Wave steered filmmakers to experiment and come up with unconventional cinema techniques. The smaller, lightweight handheld cameras gave a new life to storytelling through films. Fewer film sets were constructed, and many started filming on actual locations. People started using portable equipment and came up with alternatives that require little or no set up time. New filming techniques like jump cuts and long takes were applied along with non-linear, fragmented, and discontinuous editing. Sometimes, the films also incorporated direct sounds on film stock requiring less light. Unlike earlier, talented scriptwriters could help directors with their expertise and add perspectives to create memorable films. In all, the French New Wave proved that you don’t need elaborate sets and costly equipment to make great films. They can be made outside of the studio set-up, with incredibly low budgets.

Many French New Wave films became popular and received financial success, which created an ideal platform for the movement to flourish. It created an impact on the International cinema! The concepts influenced a lot of directors and made the entire world talk about this movement.

The French New Wave was no longer popular only in European countries. Certain producers from Brazil and Japan made movies in accordance with the French New Wave, which helped it rise to a whole new level. On the other hand, the film industry in the United States had its very own movement. John Cassavetes, a pioneer of American independent cinema, researched a lot about the French New Wave. He applied some of the inputs for his films, which brought success, and the French New Wave became hugely popular and inspired change in the American cinema as well.

Take a look at some of the best movies ensuing the French New Wave that changed cinema forever.


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