French New Wave Copies Art Movement?

CHAPTER 1. Film Movements

If you were to trace the evolution of cinema, from where it began to where it is today, you will inevitably come across a film movement of some sort. They appear, burn brightly and burn out, waiting for the next one to come along. They rarely stick around long enough to court favorable opinion in the annals of history. One did however – the French New Wave.

As the country of France emerged from the second World War, and the 1940 took in its last breathe of life, a new generation of potential film-makers were grimy wadding their way through the vast swamp that they felt French cinema had become. The French bourgeois, the New Wave would contend, was leading French cinema straight to hell.

As New Wave film director Jean-Luc Godard would say in Andrew Sarris meticulous book Interviews With Film Directors

“A young writer writing today knows that Moliere and Shakespeare exists. We are the first cineastes to know Griffith exists.”

History, while in the making,, lacks the burden of empirical truth. Any group of words, convincingly strewn together so they at least pass the smell test, will find a majority to achieve credibility. Eventually, that entry into the annals of history, if left unchallenged, becomes canon. Thus, we stop and take a gander at the early 1960s and France, where several young writers for the French film journal Cahier du Cinema would band together to form one of the most famous film movements in cinema history. They were called ‘The French New Wave’. They were young and brash with inflexible agendas on how films should be made. Problem was that their view was as much a part of the ‘establishment’ they railed against.

Wikipedia notes

“The movement was characterized by its rejection of the era’s traditional filmmaking conventions in favor of experimentation and a spirit of iconoclasm. New Wave filmmakers explored new approaches to editing, visual style, and narrative, as well as engagement with the social and political upheavals of the era, often making of irony or exploring existential themes.”

CHAPTER 2. French Film Movements

Without question, the French New Wavelist has been become the leading and most influential of all the film movements. Pick a film maker of the last 40 years and they will speak highly of the New Wave directors. History, however , will somewhat expose the group as fraudulent in their originality.

In his book Modernism: The Lure of History, author Peter Gay notes: “As early as the 1850s, French Realist critic and novelist Edmond Duranty Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up had suggested that the Louvre, that “catacomb” be burned to the ground, an idea that the Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro happily endorsed two years later.

The New Wave directors were using the same exact playboy as the painters of the late 19th/early 20th century Modernist movement. Again, Mr. Gay writes:

Outsiders like the makers of modernism collected psychological dividends from being outsiders.

Exactly how Truffaut and Godard say themselves.