World War 2 changed cinema forever. It not only brought the horrors of war to our screens but a revolution as well. As well, the common American witnessed the world from the local theater news reels. The new world the American soldier witnessed, their family back home served witness as well. Essentially, it was their attitude, morays towards sex were a shock to the average American.
The French New Wave Takes Over
Director Jean-Luc Godard’s claim that cinema is life would serve to hail the French New Wave’s intention. What was presented was on French cinema screens would be vastly different from that of American cinema, as well as that of its own.
How did they do this? Wikipedia –
“The cinematic stylings of French New Wave brought a fresh look to cinema with improvised dialogue, rapid changes of scene, and shots that broke the common 180° axis. In many films of the French New Wave, the camera was used not to mesmerize the audience with elaborate narrative and illusory images, but rather to play with audience expectations. Godard was arguably the movement’s most influential figure; his method of film-making, often used to shock and awe audiences out of passivity, was abnormally bold and direct.“
Francois Truffaut would claim:
“the ‘New Wave’ is neither a movement, nor a school, nor a group, it’s a quality”
Andrew Sarris Thinks JLG is G.O.D
Out in front stood to trumpet their cause in their cause – Andrew Sarris.
Friends with both Truffaut and Godard, Sarris was one of the first to trumpet the directors.
Wikipedia would describe the relationship this way –
Sarris is generally credited with popularizing the auteur theory in the United States and coining the term in his 1962 essay, “Notes on the Auteur Theory,” which critics writing in Cahiers du Cinéma had inspired. Sarris wrote the highly influential book The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929–1968 (1968), an opinionated assessment of films of the sound era, organized by director. The book would influence many other critics and help raise awareness of the role of the film director and, in particular, of the auteur theory.
Wikipedia described the movement like this
What catches one about the quote above is the last sentence. And I quote:
“The New Wave is often considered one of the most influential movements in the history of cinema.”
From the comfort of their desks at Cahiers du Cinema, the magazine’s writers, who would lead the French New Wave movement would open fire on France’s cinematic elite. Perversely, Cahiers du Cinema’s writers and led by perhaps its most known contributors Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, would enter into an uneasy love affair with prominent directors, films and certain actors of Hollywood’s Golden Era (1930-1960).
Cahiers and the Truth
The reporters of Cahiers would re-write the history of cinema, embracing everything in American cinema that they rejected in French films. As well, it glossed over albal the inconsistencies that arose from its manifesto like proclamations.
Perhaps the biggest, its cult-like idolatry of Alfred Hitchcock. Truffaut, Godard, Claude Charbol and Eric Rohmer would write extensively about the English born director, pushing for auteur status for Hitchcock. Excited by the new creative force, coming out, writers, Andrew Sarris would take to his typewriter to further the group’s cause. In 1967, Sarris would publish his seminal work on the cause, The Fall and Rise of the Film Director. Needless to say, the argument he puts forward is to say the least odd.
Moreover, in the perpetual battle between the current and former generations, Sarris foolishly dismisses any validity of anything but what he. or the New Wave deem relevant –
“That is why the coming of sound was a traumatic experience for serious film aestheticians of the late 20s and early 30s, (…) much of what we call film history is actually thinly disguised nostalgia.”Interviews With Film Directors by Andrew Sarris P 12- 13.
Andrew Sarris Thinks JLG is G.O.D Pt. 2
Later on in Sarris’s piece, he attempts to justify the methodology used by the New Wave crew:
“But an object criticism methodically ignoring “intentions,” is applicable to the most personal work.
In other words, it was because they said so.