French New Wave, which is also known as French Nouvelle Vague, can be considered as one of the most influential film movements that took place in the history of cinema. The ripples created by this cinematic movement can even be felt today. A group of critics, who wrote for a French film journal called Cahiers du Cinema, created the film movement.
It began as a movement against the traditional path that French Cinema followed, which was more like literature. The French New Wave had the potential to bring a radical change to French cinema.
Few of the leading French movie directors supported the French New Wave at its inception. They include Jacques Demy, Agnes Varda, Alain Resnais, Louis Malle, Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard, and Francois Truffaut.
These directors have produced hundreds of movies to the French cinema industry and their involvement created a tremendous impact on the success of French New Wave. As a result, many other French directors were influenced by it, which created an ideal platform to deploy the radical change that the French cinema industry required.
How did the French New Wave movement originate?
The manifesto of Alexandre Astuc, The Birth of a New Avant-Garde: The Camera-Stylo can be considered as the starting point of the French New Wave movement. This event took place in 1948. This manifesto outlined several ideas that were explained by Cahiers du cinema and François Truffaut at a later stage.
They argued that the French cinema was similar to the literature, which expresses the same ideas that are depicted in novels and paintings. In other words, the artists at that time used movies to voice their thoughts. Some of the leading film producers, whose names are mentioned above, wanted to change it and this is the birth of the radical movement in the history of French cinema.
Morris Engel, who was an American film director, also contributed a lot towards the French New Wave. He produced a movie called Little Fugitive back in 1953 as he was impressed with the concept of French New Wave. This film clearly shows how the cinema industry in France got International support to carry forward the much-needed move. The French movie producers still appreciate the contribution of Morris Engel.
During the French New Wave movements, particular attention was paid towards the theory called auteur theory. As per auteur theory, the director of a movie is also the producer of it.
Therefore, the directors took the necessary measures to add a personal signature to the film. The directors who lived in France at that time praised the films produced by Jean Vigo and Jean Renoir because they were pioneer figures who fought against this theory.
They were able to create a few memorable films with the help of talented scriptwriters. The participation of scriptwriters helped them to stay away from adding their personal opinions and views into the movies that they created.
Jean Rouch can also be considered as a prominent figure in the French New Wave. The first new wave feature came out at this point. It was delivered along with the movie Le Beau Serge by Chabrol. The trend continued for a few more years as well, where few other movies such as Godard, The 400 Blows, and Truffaut came out with similar features.
These movies became popular in international film industries in an unexpected manner. In fact, it received both financial as well as critical success. This made the entire world talk about the French New Wave. As a result, a perfect platform was created for the movement to flourish. The characters who took part in the movies that were produced during the radical change were not labeled as protagonists. This created a positive impression on their minds as well.
The auteurs also played a tremendous role during the French New Wave movement. That’s because they received excellent support from the youth audiences. Most of the directors who helped the French New Wave were born during the 1930s. On the other hand, a large percentage of them spend their childhood in Paris.
As a result, they have a clear understanding of how people in Paris experience their life. All-night parties, urban professional life, and concentration in fashion were hugely popular among youth who lived in Paris. These skills assisted the directors to support the movement with radical inputs.
The French New Wave was roughly famous between 1958 and 1964. The movement came to an end by 1973. Even though it was finished at that time, the influencing effects existed for several decades.
The international popularity of French New Wave
As mentioned earlier, many other countries in the world were aware of the French New Wave during the 1950s and 1960s. It created an impact on the International movie industry as well. The big radical change introduced by the French New Wave played a tremendous role in the fact mentioned above.
In fact, the French New Wave was powered up by the social and cultural change that came out after World War II. During this time, some lateral movements also existed in the world. The Free Cinema movement existed in Britain during the 1950s, and the French New Wave even influenced it.
The neighboring countries of France had some like-minded movie producers. They took the initiative to implement the radical change introduced by French New Wave in their countries as well. Most of these young directors were Communist-controlled individuals. As a result, they had the potential to create a tremendous impact on society.
Ivan Passer, Vera Chytilova, and Milos Forman are some of the leading movie producers who lived in Czechoslovakia at that time and took necessary measures to promote French New Wave and its changes to the International film industries. Likewise, few other producers from Poland such as Jerzy Skolimowski and Roman Polanski also contributed towards the global popularity of the movement. Even though these producers wanted to implement the change proposed by the French New Wave, they did not have the required assistance.
As a result, they chose non-professional actors and continued with shooting on location. The French New Wave was popular in Italy as well. Young producers such as Marco Bellocchio and Bernardo Bertolucci were inspired by the radical changes that were introduced by this movement in France. As a result, they promoted those changes within Italy.
French New Wave was not only popular in European countries. It also became a popular film movement in Brazil and Japan. Producers such as Glauber Rocha and Nagisa Oshima made movies devoted to the New Wave as a result of it; this helped them to take international social conventions to a whole new level.
The popularity of the French New Wave in the United States is notable as well. The USA was known as the heartland of commercial cinema. The film industry in the USA had its very own movement, which was led by a filmmaker named John Cassavetes. He gave life to some interesting movies such as Faces in 1968 and Shadows in 1958, which created a tremendous impact on the New Wave movement.
The New Wave movement initiated by John Cassavetes and the French New Wave movement had similarities among them. That must be because John Cassavetes was researching a lot about the French new wave at that time. He must have got some inputs from the French New Wave, which was hugely popular at that moment in time. Therefore, the French New Wave has created an impact on the American movie industry as well.
How the French New Wave Changed Film History Forever
French New Wave took place 50 years back. Now you must be wondering why we should pay our attention towards it. As you can see, the French New Wave has been able to bring some revolutionary changes to the movie industry in France.
Also, it created a tremendous impact on the film industries that existed in many other countries. The result generated by this movement was not only restricted to Europe. It became famous around the world as well and its concepts influenced a lot of directors. These ideas have created the layout for the popularity of alternative cinema, which exist in today’s world.
Without French New Movement, there won’t be Bertolucci, Oshima, and Wenders. On the other hand, advertising, fashion, and music would be done without any major point of reference.
Therefore, the French New Wave was capable of taking the world to a whole new level. It can also be considered as the most revolutionary movement that took place in the movie industry during the 20th Century. Without the New Wave, no film would be open. You would not even like the movies that you can see out there. Therefore, even future generations would appreciate the commitment of the founders of the French New Wave and the influence they created.
Top 20 Best French New Wave Films
- Breathless (1960)
- Jules et Jim (François Truffaut, 1962)
- 400 Blows Les Quatre Cents Coups (François Truffaut, 1959)
- Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)
- Band of Outsiders Bande à part (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964)
- Eyes without a Face (Georges Franju, 1960)
- Lift to the Scaffold (Louis Malle, 1958)
- Bob le flambeur (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1956)
- Vivre sa vie (Jean-Luc Godard, 1962)
- Les Cousins (Claude Chabrol, 1959)
- Paris nous appartient (Jacques Rivette, 1961)
- Hiroshima mon amour (1959)
- Les Bonnes Femmes (1960)
- Shoot the Piano Player (1960)
- Lola (1961)
- Four by Agnes Varda Adieu Philippine (1962)
- Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962)
- Contempt (Le Mépris) (1963)
- Claire’s Knee (1970)
- Céline and Julie Go Boating (1974)
Alex Ferrari 0:09
I'd like to welcome show Richard neubert. How you doing my friend?
Richard Neupert 0:13
doing just fine. Thank you.
Alex Ferrari 0:15
I appreciate you being on the show. You know, I've never had an educator, come on the show to talk about a film movement before. And generally speaking, isn't that something I've done? But the reason why I wanted to bring you on was I wanted to talk about all things French New Wave. And I know a lot of people listening Oh, my God, are we really gonna sit here and talk about the French New Wave? We are. But the reason I wanted to bring you is because I wanted to show filmmakers today. What these Renegade filmmakers were doing back then, and how what they were doing can help us today in our new kind of world that we live in, which is these micro budget, low budget, running gun kind of filmmaking, which we now have the ability to do at a much more affordable rate than they did back then. And they were still doing it back then. So before we get started, can you explain to everybody who's never heard of this, what exactly is the French New Wave movement?
Richard Neupert 1:13
The French New Wave was an explosion that really had never happened before. Or since I don't think in motion pictures. A couple of people who were all under 30, which was kind of unusual at the time, ended up making their first motion pictures, they shot their first features, most of them between like 1958 1964. So what happens is parents has this just sort of a burst of new young energy on the screen. At a time when the average director had to be 50 or 60, and work their way up the system. You've suddenly had these people 30 years old, and other making movies, they made cheap movies for us. And some said they were a sexy new movies for really a new generation. And the reason it's called a wave is that between that but really 456 year period, 120 different people got to make their first feature film. And then some of them like john Luke go down and Claude Chabrol are making one or two a year. So it's just these hundreds of new movies are suddenly coming out at the same time out of Paris, and it made Paris once again sort of the center of the film universe, really. And there was so slow new technologies. Yeah, yeah, there was just
Alex Ferrari 2:21
nothing like this that had ever happened before. For people to have an understanding in the time period. filmmaking was very kind of textbook It was kind of like wide shot, close up, edited in a certain way was almost formulaic in a way.
Richard Neupert 2:36
And especially for your audience. I mean, john Luke ghadar, who's the last one still living of the bunch, and still making movies. he famously said, in the early 60s, thank God, I didn't get into the state film school, they turned me down. Otherwise, I would have learned to set my camera, everybody else sets it, I would have learned to edit like everybody else who shot reverse shots, I would have learned to light like everybody else with a whole bunch of three point lighting, lighting. And instead, he's I never learned those rules. I never had to follow those rules. So there was this real excitement that they were aware of the fact that they were working outside the system on the edge of the system. They were criticizing mainstream movies as critics first then started making movies. So it really was a brash new young generation very male, there a couple of women that was really just trying to take on the French establishment, and make movies that they just thought were appropriate for them. And they
Alex Ferrari 3:23
weren't really what you should do. And then they were basically they weren't film critics, basically, they decided, you know what, these guys don't know what they're doing, aren't gonna do it.
Richard Neupert 3:34
They learned in Sydney clubs. And this is one of these, I helped run a nonprofit art house here in Athens, Georgia. And one of the things that was essential at this era was they went to movies, they went to the cinema tech, they watched silent murder movies, they watched Howard Hawks, movies and Hitchcock movies, and they didn't want to replicate them, but they wanted to learn. So what's wrong when they actually started to think, Oh, I want to tell a new story in a new way. But how would Hitchcock treat this? How would Fritz Lang treat this? Oh, I think I have a long take on this. He was so they were also building film history. And they taught themselves film history and film aesthetics, rather than going to necessarily to be taught here are the most important movies and how to do things. So it was it was really a brash, exciting kind of movement. At a time when youth was really exploding. We also got to think about 1950s. This is a time when radio stations are starting to aim at certain segments of the audience. And there's really a whole new audience at the same same time in the teens and in their 20s we're looking for something new in music, something new in literature, even but especially something new in the movies that's going to be theirs, and it became the French New Wave.
Alex Ferrari 4:36
And since you brought him up, Hitchcock, you know, during during his early career, he wasn't really considered a serious filmmaker. He was kind of like a popcorn filmmaker of his time. Kind of like Spielberg was when Spielberg was coming out. They were like, he's not a CEO. He's just makes big movies that people like to go watch. He makes Popular Movies he doesn't make he doesn't make cinema he makes movies and ciuffo was the first serious cinematic director that gave Hitchcock all the credit that he deserved with that amazing interview that he did years ago, correct?
Richard Neupert 5:14
Yes, I hope we've seen the Kent Jones movie the imagery that just came out a couple of years ago, as well. Yeah. In fact, when Hitchcock in Truffaut just sat down and talked through his career in different ways. And actually Truffaut would introduce interviewed him in the 50s when he was really young. So this guy's like, 20 years old. truphone, he kind of hangs out and finds out Hitchcock's in France and goes asks and could it could be interviewing, um, true, false truphone these guys, they're the first ones to walk around with new little nagaraj tape, these little portable quarter inch tape recorders and would interview people like Hitchcock and, and they and usually they're used to being asked what's it like to be with Grace Kelly on seeing your Cary Grant. Instead, these guys are asking about his lighting choices. They're asking him about his vision of the world. So that early on tourism, they really want to take him seriously at a time. Other people said Hitchcock movies are like going to the amusement park, you know, they're just very well oiled machines. And these guys wanted to show no, there's a soul to them. So yeah, they really wanted to investigate means on sand. They used to famously say things like, oh, camera movements, or morale, or moral issues. So everything about lighting, everything about camerawork, they just kind of saw it almost as a religion. And I think a lot of independent film makers today need to get in touch with that sort of aspect of really just the sort of fetishizing of certain aspects of cinema. But anyway, they are they really brought a new attitude toward toward much of the cinema, Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer wrote the first book on the 1950s. On his career, like right up to 1955, they wrote a book that right then, so they were really celebrating certain certain filmmakers, and were inspired by them. But they didn't want to make Hitchcock like movies. They wanted to make personal films about their own lives.
Alex Ferrari 6:53
Now, what are some of the characteristics of a French New Wave film?
Richard Neupert 6:58
Typically, they're going to be set in contemporary time. These are not costume dramas, these are not Star Wars. They're not trying to science fiction. In fact, a couple of them, one of them famously said, you know, most of the movies about young couples today are made by 60 year old guys who don't remember what it's like to fall in love. So they wanted to tell stories about themselves young men and young women, and the problems they face. So they tended to be shot on location, kind of like the Italian Neo realist and stuff they shot in the streets. So some of their first films were like somebody say, oh, you're Your mother has a really nice apartment. Can we shoot there? I mean, they would shoot in friend's apartments, they would shoot in their favorite cafes, on the streets, etc. That's why in some of these movies like go two hours breathless, you see people sort of looking at the camera confused. They're just out on the street shoot without permits. So you shoot on location, use as few crew members as possible. And one of the things especially in a digital age, one of the things to think about is these people are starting to use cameras and new recording devices like the Nagara tape deck that had just come out in the late 50s, where one person can just sling a magnetic tape recorder around their shoulder and hold a microphone. And instead of having a sound truck or recording on 35 millimeter optical track, you know, you got one person is the sound department. They started using equipment, it was made for news gathering. So they use really lightweight 35 millimeter or 16 millimeter cameras. They were crystal synced up to a tape recorder. Nobody done this before. So people said it was unprofessional. Well, they said the same thing about Shaun Baker making tangerine on an iPhone. It's that same sort of notion that you use what equipment you can afford, and then making a story tell a story that's equivalent. They use everyday language. They didn't use fancy formal language, they had scripts that were they used to call for a plan of action script, I got an idea. Here's a couple of things we're going to shoot today. They weren't these carefully polished scripts because they weren't approved by some banker, they were approved by some producer. They go out and find their own cash and really be their own producer or find some really amazing young producer who says okay, I trust you guys. Here's $50,000 to make a movie.
Alex Ferrari 9:01
And when you in the scripts that they were using, were they were they kind of like a script meant more like outline, or they have some dialogue in it. How exactly did they lay these out?
Richard Neupert 9:12
depended from filmmaker to filmmaker and that's one of the great things about the new wave. They're all different. Right? So um, john Luke good AR might show up in the morning with some scraps of paper and hand it to his actors in breathless and things like that. And the actors were just like, what is this? It's like making a silent movie. We just learn our lines. He says, Don't worry about it. We're gonna shoot it silent. I'll have you dump it in later. And then others had really careful should Claude Chabrol when he's very carefully worked out scripts, at least a scene the scene. But a lot of times people didn't know where they're going by the end of the movie. They rewrite them as they went, the actors got to help decide things. And that's the other thing about it. They're not using big professional named actors they're using. They're using friends. They're finding actors who they like playing big parts in other commercial movies. And so they'll go up to somebody like clue Bria Lee who had played a couple big parts and they say, hey, look, I thought you were great. And that minor key part there. How would you like to be a mind movie I can only pay you 5000 bucks. But I you will be the lead and the person that decide do I want to make more money playing a minor character in a commercial film? Or do I want to try being the lead and then these became the new stars of the French New Wave. So they're going to make actresses and actors into French New Wave Stars by having them in movie after movie after movie on a Korean enough for for ghadar john Moreau was making a decent living and all of a sudden Truffaut and Louie Ma and these guys make her have that first lady of French cinema. So they they're, they're making their own generation of actors, they're telling them don't come in with your usual makeup on. And they also got rid of some of the Union positions, they weren't real popular with the unions and the main because they would say I would say we don't need to designer, they're just gonna bring their own clothes, we don't need a makeup person, they're going to look like somebody does when they just had sex all night and they get up in the morning, they shouldn't look like they've been made up by somebody professional. So so they're getting rid of a bunch of those things. They want it to look natural. So the dialogue tended to be spontaneous. Sometimes a lot of jargon and contemporary lingo of music was usually Jazzy, something that kind of fit the loose structure of these movies. They didn't follow all the editing rhythms. So if you're using jump cuts and mismatches, you don't want classical music, fitting it you want jazz and something that's that's kind of jarring. So they really put together a sort of casual look, and a different kind of story with new actors. And they really built their own varied styles. Everybody's bills looked a little different, but they were all they were all fun, lively, and felt like something that was made today in the world they live in.
Alex Ferrari 11:33
And he I mean, going back and watching those films, they, they they seem still even contemporary today. The style that they were doing, they were doing, the kind of editing they were doing back then. And even the camera work instinct that they were doing is it's still fresher than a lot of this stuff I see today.
Richard Neupert 11:51
Let me give you an example. There's this guy who shot Oops, sorry. There's this guy, Jacques rosebay, who makes a Jew Philippine. And they were shooting on the beach, and they couldn't get the tripod to stay in the sand. So he had the camera operator, stand up on a chair behind him and put the 35 millimeter camera on his head, and the director became the tripod. For another scene they were doing in a small apartment, he wanted the camera to pull back in, they're like, well, we don't really have anything. So they had somebody, they put the camera operator on like a kitchen chair up close to the character, and they had a guy in the corner, pull the rug back so that you got this slow camera move with it pulls back. It's just the guy pulling the rug underneath the chair that the camera operator sitting on. So yeah, you do that kind of stuff. They regularly Truffaut especially regularly liked to use cars, where he would like they would just turn the car off and use it as a dolly. And you'd have guys just sort of put the camera up here and sit on the hood. And then you've just pushed the car down the street. So you get traveling shots and tracking shots and things that were cheap. You use one of the one of the cars by one of the guys on the crew. You didn't really tracks you do brains. You just shot were you good.
Alex Ferrari 12:57
And you used whatever you had at the time that you have it exactly. There's a real famous
Richard Neupert 13:02
shot in the 400 blows by Truffaut, we've got this high angle shot of the kids walking down the street. And Truffaut just like went up to see said you know, we did a high angle shot from up there. So they went up and they actually knocked on doors. And they found somebody who's they said can we can we prop our tripod out your window. And there's this great shot of them like leaning out the window on somebody's Paris apartment shooting down to the street. So yeah, they would just do all kinds of, you know, impromptu thing, you didn't have to pay anybody to do that. They didn't buy a crane, he just Well, if I just start with a high angle shot from a window, and then it come down and shoot from the street. It's almost like a crane shot, you go from here to here, I'll cut it down and you just you just forget the camera movement. So yeah, they're editing their shooting in ways that they're really trying to, you know, have jarring new effects for what they saw as a sort of new era of post war. European culture.
Alex Ferrari 13:49
So the rule so obviously these these filmmakers were rule breakers, let's go over so everybody understands exactly what's going on. What are some of the rules that they change it? We've kind of glossed over them, but specifically, what are some of the rules that they they broke? Which were hard hardcore rules, like engraved in cement? Or on on on, on? On? Yeah, and submit? Yeah,
Richard Neupert 14:13
well, the man okay. Imagine a scene for your, for your artist. Imagine a scene where a young man young woman, they're not quite sure if they're a couple yet or not, and having a conversation, classical Hollywood or even commercial French cinema, you got an establishing shot. She's in one side of the room, he's on the other side of the room, and an establishing shot, then you're gonna go in for a shot reverse shot, she says, boy, you know, I didn't expect you to show up today. Cut to him on a different thing. But you shoot at evolver shots together, then you shoot all his shots together and you edit to back together, we shot reverse shots, the new wave is gonna do all that maybe in one or two takes and they might just start a start on one character suddenly discover the other person's actually in the room, pull back a little bit to show them. So you'd have just the cameras almost like a documentary filmmaker or a news camera operator, you're trying to sort of capture the movement. So there was a sense of, they'd sought as often as an honesty. They just felt like many of these rules The 180 degree line and eyeline matching, and the sort of editing, continuity editing rules were just sort of made up to, you know, make everything the same. So the each would try to think about interesting ways to put the camera in different places. Same thing with sound, they shot a lot silent, because they figured, well, you know, we're gonna have our characters having an argument in this tiny little French elevator, the noise, it's not how we're going to get the sound in there, we'll just help them, get them in the camera crunched in there. And then later on, we'll delve into the sound. So some things where they use six, sound and live sound out in the streets, other things they would debate in afterwards. So they're not restricted by the rules of what's professional. And some of the critics at the time said that these are unprofessional films. I can't believe this is winning a Film Festival Award when kludge roll, it's got people driving down the shoulder, Lisa in Paris, having a conversation with the top down in a sports car. And you can tell the voices weren't really recorded, then it becomes one of the top movies the cousin list becomes one of the biggest movies in Europe that summer. And a lot of the professionals are saying he's breaking these rules, the sound quality was uneven, you could tell it was miked in a studio, not on the streets. The people go into it didn't care. It was lively. And it was fun. And again, they were sexy. They had a lot of movies about you know, young couples in bed at a time when American cinema is very restrictive. And you got to Doris Day rock that's and you know, kind of comedies, some of these things, Jules and Jim with the love triangle, the Catholic Church is going to condemn it. So they were seen, as you know, not just Rule Breakers in terms of where you put the camera and how long a tape is, they are also in terms of what your content is.
Alex Ferrari 16:31
So the and these were essentially low budget films. These were not Yeah, what what were the with? What were the budgets of some of these films?
Richard Neupert 16:40
Typically $50,000 to $100,000, kind of that range with sounds like you know, okay, but the average French film was about a half a million dollars, or 300, or 400,000. So there made it a lower budget. But here's the deal, if you want to, it's not just young writers, and actors and directors, it was also a new generation of producers. So if you're gonna make a $400,000 movie, for example, in France, it's kind of risky. So what they started to do was decide, hey, somebody say I got $100,000, I'm going to give it to these two people I met, they'll each make a $50,000 movie, if either one of them makes some money, I'm doing better off than putting all of it into one $400,000 movie, and then they start to win these awards. So again, Khaled Chabrol, clincher bro, his grandmother died, left him like $65,000, what's he do with it, instead of buying an apartment or doing whatever a traditional bourgeois person would do, or investing it? He buys he starts a film production company, and he starts making his own his own first film, he had a drawer full of scripts, like a lot of people should. So he started shooting a movie, but he only uses part of it because he gets the state grant to cover part of the production money. And then he finds a producer to put in a third of the money to so he's kind of CO producing it with someone else. The French government's giving him a basically a low interest loan. So then he takes some of that movie money he didn't use, and he lends it to a friend to start making his first feature film. So he takes a $65,000 movie money, makes it into handsome Sarah boo Sarah, his first film, it wins a top prize at a film festival starts to make money, he starts to shoot his second film the cousins. Within three months, he had two movies open in Paris, France, and they both were hits. So they're shooting fast. They're shooting furiously. And at the same time, he's got two friends who are now making their first feature films. So they helped each other out. They even lent each other's you know, they would say, Oh, my camera operator is really good. I'm just finishing up, why don't you use him. So you had the same cinematographers bringing to the shoot with no artificial light, or on location with not much of a shooting script, who were spontaneous. Someone came out of documentary and news photography and got into it. So you got a new generation of cinematographers, too. So it's very low budget, shoot fast. Use outside money, whenever you can get rid of any official union people, they would make appeals, can we please shoot this film, they had to get approval from the National cinema board to get rid of positions. So they're doing everything on every different level to really make movies in a different way. And I think in a digital era, it's really you know, everybody can make a movie today. You can upload it to YouTube, obviously, in other places, but if you want to get it distributed, and really seen out there, you also have to find daring producers and distributors, who will pick them up.
Alex Ferrari 19:14
Now speaking of distributors, how would these films distributed because I'm assuming well, distributors today are not very open minded nor forward thinking. So I could only imagine what distributors in Europe were in the 1950s. How, like, I didn't want the 400 blows shows up. I was not gonna like you know, breathless, I was gonna work.
Richard Neupert 19:37
Yeah, so what typically what's what happened was like the foreigner blows, it won a top prize at the con Film Festival. So it's kind of like a Sundance when he didn't have a distributor. Um, he actually made this move for like, $55,000 they make it he gets accepted at the con Film Festival, partly because he's a really famous critic already. But he gets accepted there. He wins the top prize. He, the North American rights alone, Canada and United States was around $100,000 for a $50,000 movie. So he's doubled his money before showing the movie theater anywhere and then you start to get distributors competing for it. That leads to other people getting excited about young films, etc. So Claude Chabrol has already gotten a distributor, Eric Rohmer makes his first film, nobody wants to distribute it. But then he starts to go to art film circuits. So you can do it a number of different ways. France has this sort of circuit of art films at the time that you can just basically for wallet, but a lot of them get picked up because of the film festival wins. And then a new generation distributors comes along. A bunch of these things are distributed in the United States by new young distributors who are distributing Fellini movies, Ingmar Bergman movies, things that are outside the normal circuit to an art film circuit here. And they're on they're out there looking for new racy stuff. So they're distributed not by 20th Century Fox or Warner Brothers, but they're being distributed by really a whole new generation of European art film distributors around and but they have a bunch of different contracts. Agnes Varda who we lost this last year. And this Varda was a really good example with Clio from five to seven. She's going to get make this movie because her husband shocking to me had just made a movie and that distributors, or that producer said, Hey, you know, what, what's your wife doing? You know, and she's like, well, I've got this movies, he approved her really cheap scripts, she shoots Cleo, he's gonna bundle it with other new wave films. So it got distributed in the United States with he sold like a ghadar a shock to me, and then Agnes Varda film were all rolled together that that an American distributor would then buy. So they're kind of coming as a cluster. They're good friends who help each other out. And that also makes it a wave because there's not just one or two people individually getting picked up. They're all kind of in a in a package. So Truffaut, Godard, Eric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol, Agnes BARDA, Jacques de me, there's a whole bunch of people like that, who are now on the cover of newspapers and magazines, Esquire, there's a great new way of addition of Esquire that's got like caricatures of all the a lot of the new wave actors and directors on its cover saying, Paris is is the place to be right now in the movie world. So they were just these became like, icons of a new generation. They were like, you know, they're like jazz stars or something.
Alex Ferrari 22:22
And it was also a time when there wasn't as much as much competition for our eyeballs as there is to in today's world. So you could make a bigger splash back then, because there just wasn't a whole lot else. Not to take anything away. Neither take anything away from them.
Richard Neupert 22:38
But yeah, no, it's very, no, it's very true. I mean, what was on TV? I mean, French television had like one or two channels at that point. We just had the standard, Mr. Ed kind of stuff. And this was this was, yeah, just very jarring. And very different. So yeah, you're not competing. They're not competing with MGM musicals. They're not they don't want to compete with that stuff. They're not trying to make Star Wars on the cheap. what they're trying to do is have a whole new kind of product that somehow connects with their generation. Do you think it's sort of because?
Alex Ferrari 23:11
Right, and do you think that they're the French New Wave had a direct correlation with the renaissance of the 70s? Especially here in the states where you have melius? You've got Coppola. You've got Scorsese. You've got Spielberg. And you've got you know, there's so many others. dipalma
Richard Neupert 23:29
from Cassavetes on Yes. Yeah. And back. I mean, Truffaut was trying to do Bonnie and Clyde. They were coming over to talk to you about Lou, how about Joe and Joe could are people were asking him to make movies in America, and he would sometimes take the upfront money and then not do anything. Um, it was a bit of a scam sometimes. But But yes, they're really strongly doing that. That that a lot of people being influenced by them. I think the graduate you know, one, one of the biggest movies, I've been 60s, it's really, the first half is kind of a new wave movie like Benjamin, what are you doing? I'm just floating, right? He has no plan. He has no thing. It's about this youth. He doesn't want to play the game. So I think a lot of these things, Mike Nichols, a lot of people were strongly influenced by the new wave in the 60s, certainly by the 70s. Yes, they're looking back to this to this kind of era as a golden moment in, in World Cinema to a certain extent. So yeah, I think it strongly influences things. What is a script? Who gets to make a movie who gets to produce a movie who should be an actress, and by the 70s, we get a lot of those anti heroes and even women actresses that are not classically beautiful in the survey who become really hot stuff in certain movies. So a lot of that comes from the French New Wave kind of impulse. It strongly affects American independent films of the 70s and on
Alex Ferrari 24:45
Now, can you talk a little bit about what the two specific sections one first about how they use the camera and such a special unique way when breaking the rules and then also the editing language because they literally changed editing and the editing language with multiple not one or two little things, but they added a bunch and same for the camera. So can you talk a little bit about how they how they influenced us?
Richard Neupert 25:10
Sure, the cinematographers typically are going to use very lightweight cameras. And again, they have the freedoms in some scenes to shoot silent. So they're gonna have the a lot of and this goes with editing. Sometimes you get a lot of montages of people running through the streets, the streets or the famous garrison. inventa are where they run through the loop and try to set a record of how quickly can you go through the loop Museum, that you should love that stuff silent. So the camera operators can be combated be really mobile getting into elevators, they're also the first ones that I know of who the camera operators start to use non conventional things, not just sitting on the hood of a car and being pushed down the street, but wheelchairs. I mean, that's another thing people make fun of them. They shot in wheelchairs, the camera operators. Well, By the mid 60s, every film school in America has wheelchairs, people say oh, well if they can do this stuff, so they're shooting in wheelchairs, they're shooting in ghadar. There's famous example. And Jacques to me does the same thing in one of his early movies and Lola, that they actually hide the camera operator inside of a postman's cart. So you've got this big cart and the cinematographer sits in there cuts a little hole to stick the lens out, and they get pushed down the street and they make a movie where nobody knows the film's been going is going on. So you get a casual interaction with people just wandering past and it feels natural because it is, but you also get a camera perspective, almost like Ozu standing up a little bit. You get a new perspectives and mobility. So mobility, camera mobility was huge, move the camera around, and then the editing would often try to take some of those long takes together. But they do other things. Gianluca dar famously use a lot of jump cuts, which is basically you take 1/32 shot, and then you snip pieces out. So it's like it's almost like a visual stuttering. Well, within a couple years, they're using it in beer commercials, right? I mean, it gets picked up for nonfiction purposes, commercial start to do some of these things as well. So yeah, having people repeat their actions. In the graduate, I'll just use it as another example, there's a scene in the graduate where Mrs. Robinson walks naked into a bedroom. And Ben turns his head three times with a quote of an Eisenstein movie from the 1920s. But the same kind of thing is going to happen in Truffaut and ghadar. And other places where the real time of how many times did someone turn their head if there's no way to say, so they're going to break up the sort of real time and space sometimes with editing, call attention to editing as manipulation, um, and also use that to help really set the rhythm in a way that maybe this script would in a more classical movie. So the scene the scene structure is usually a little different and cut from thing to thing is a little more jaggedy, and raggedy, the camerawork might look unprofessional, but keeps moving, but yeah, use editing but you just cut from one thing to another. And you don't worry so much about smooth transitions in the way that having a continuity person they didn't always have a what's called a script girl in the old days, a continuity person making sure that the glass of beer is half full, and every shot for the same scene and things like that. So a lot of times there are mismatches and there are so and that was kind of a seen as honesty, we're making movies here was important to the French New Wave.
Alex Ferrari 28:08
And then they also, I from my studying of it, a lot of times they were you normally would use editing to create tension in a scene, they would just use the camera as whip pans and, and just kind of see if there's two people in a room or something like that, that would just jump with the camera as opposed to normally that would be an edit where Hitchcock would obviously use it all the time, but they wouldn't.
Richard Neupert 28:33
Yeah, people just watch the first 10 minutes of breathless for example, you've got a shot of him. He says he's driving his car, boring scene, right? He's driving his car. And then you just you see him like talking to himself. But you look out the hood as if it's his point of view shot and suddenly there's like a british petroleum gas truck, then another car then something else. Well, in a normal movie, you would cut back to him, Milan, you're looking bored, then cut proc then cut to a car then cut. So he just took out those sort of interest interim shots. And he said a lot of times go down and say I edit my movies like a Dick Tracy comic book, like the whole notion you go from from image to image from panel to panel page to page. It wants to call attention the editing whereas Hollywood, you're supposed to hide your cuts, have dialogue or music cut over them. So it just seems logically like there's an impossible. And I literally imagined helicopter is there invisibly, taking shots or something he calls attention to the sound. Why not? Um, and and so it was really a modern, a very modern way of making movies that wasn't seamless. It was seen as again, amateurish in some ways. But it's not just some poor student movie. They usually had really good taste in what they're building and why. And again, I think they're still some of the most exciting movies out there.
Alex Ferrari 29:47
Yeah, I mean, that was the thing I was watching reasonably watching some again and you just sit there going, Oh my god, this is this is fresher than the stuff that's going on right now. And a lot of ways you know it, you know, I feel that I feel this Been multiple generations that have forgotten these films and forgot this movement? And because there might be a stigma because oh, that's what they teach you in film school. So it must not be cool. But and they're, and they're black and white. Oh my god, they must not have that's not good. That's like Citizen Kane. I'm like, No, and Citizen Kane has his own thing. Much, much better than Citizen Kane, in my opinion, as well. But I wanted to I wanted to talk about this on the show, because I think there is generations of filmmakers who don't understand that the what the rules that they broke back then, that it literally if I if I made a brand new French New Wave film right now in the exact same way, it would be fresher. And we could do it so much more such in with such ease today with the technology. I mean, it's insane.
Richard Neupert 30:51
No, it's true. And it's true. And I'll just give another good example, like Agnes Varda is clear from five to seven, she the whole movie for people on the scene, it is any script writer, I think it's a great, great model, you've got a woman who's who's waiting for a cancer test. So basically, she's killing time for about an hour and a half. And every scene is like every chapter has a chapter number. But it also has a timing on it things precise. It's got European time. So it's like 1543 to 1548. So so you're going to have these specific times. So it for every scene last exactly as many minutes as the title says it's going to last and yet within it. So it's got continuity, but in the middle, if there's going to be this discontinuity, so one point, she walks down the sidewalk, she's a pop singer, she's worried. And suddenly you just have all these images, some of them from previous parts of the film, you know, is she imagining all these things? Is this the narrator interposing them, but it's just this brilliant rhythm of all these stills still shots and moving shots and stuff, she just walks out of the cafe, a little frustrated down a street. So they break up really the whole notion of like, you know, what is time? Is it long and continuous? Is it all mental, subjective, and montage is? It's both? So yeah, they're really exploring time and space. And as Gianluca dhar said, where you start a shot and where you end the shot. That's the essence of cinema. They really thought about this stuff, and we're having fun with it at the same time.
Alex Ferrari 32:11
Now, what is camera stylo?
Richard Neupert 32:14
Ah, camera steelo. Yes, the low, the low. The low is like a pen in the 1940s. There's this other theorist. He's a critic, friend of Hungary Roseanne, and he wrote in some of the real leftist journals, even during the war, some of the illegal publications. But this Alexander a stroke wrote a famous article, it's really short whenever I show it to students, because they've heard about it's only like 12 paragraphs, but it's basically says he's calling for the camera as pin, the camera steelo that basically in the past, the great minds used a pen to write today, the great minds will use portable cameras to write. So basically saying, think like a novelist. Don't think like old filmmakers think you will write with your camera. So it was really a notion of sort of freeing up cinematic thought freeing up cinematic language Don't be bound by all the grammar rules you've learned. So it was really trying to say our whole generation, were going to think and express ourselves differently through cameras, and through the cinematic mode. So it really was a World War Two, and just after this new faith that every is disgusted with the war on previous generations, that basically if you're a creative individual, and you're 20 years old, your medium is not to write a novel, or write a play, it's to make a movie. So it really sent this new generation they love that idea. We are going to tell our stories with a camera out in the streets. So it's sort of motivated a lot of that. And Agnes Varda later on talked about she's, you know, she called herself somebody who's a singer, a character, she was a Sydney writer. And her She didn't say this film was seen a key it was seen a written. So there's this real sense of you know, we are a new generation, the film is a new language. And frankly, you know, we're going to be able to tell new stories because of the apparatus. So it's really just rethinking the power of the cinema, the function of a camera and a microphone, and all of that one thing but it this camera steelo became this idea of just like you compose a novel, you compose should compose a movie.
Alex Ferrari 34:16
And I feel that there's one director, contemporary director that kind of encompasses everything the French New Wave has to offer. And, and one of the reasons why his films are looked upon with such reverence reverence is Tarantino. You could look at you could look at scenes and I mean, I've you just you just catch the shots. And he's, he's famously unapologetic about stealing shots in stealing full concepts, and he's wonderful at what he does. He's a master, but you see scenes like in Kill Bill, Django Unchained, even once upon a time in Hollywood. They're just straight up shots from the French gave or inspired by the Frenchman even the chapter points at the beginning of his movies.
Richard Neupert 35:03
No, that's very true in fact that yeah, that you know, that Banda power productions Yeah, there's this this real, this reverence for ghadar and, and and a certain period of his life. No it's and I think what's important is the playfulness, a lot of these new wave films, people act like Oh, you're going to museum gotta watch this seriously? No, they're being silly they're being funny and Truffaut's shoot the piano player, you know, so he says, oh, if I'm not telling the truth, May my you know my mother dry and then you cut this a woman falling over. I mean, they're they were playful at the same time. And I think that aspect of Tarantino really owes a lot to it much less those tracking shots that go on and on and on. With, once upon a time I had students say, No, they just drive around and walk around. And you know, this would be a new wave guide say exactly, you know, that's the essence of cinema, how you cover somebody moving from point A to point B, that is cinema. much, but also that scene of when the Sharon Tate characters watching herself in the movie theater. That's a real New Wave senior right? Because there are a lot of movies, they go to movies a lot in the French New Wave, as well. So no, I think there are lots of Tarantino aspects that pick up on the new way pick up on art cinema from all over the place. And that's why I just think any independent filmmaker needs to know not just recent American independent cinema and be able to talk about their Dharma shows, etc. and Miranda, July kind of stuff, but they should also be able to talk about European alternatives. Early Polanski, and Polanski was inspired by the French New
Alex Ferrari 36:32
Wave do Cassavetes
Richard Neupert 36:36
in Warsaw saying, Wait a minute, Paris is really expensive if they can make a $50,000 movie there. Think what I can do here in Warsaw, you know, where everything's really cheap. So he's there, and they inspire people around the world of their generation and subsequent, but I think it's still is one of those things that the franchising, or is there a new wave on the horizon? I mean, it's become a mythical era that just will never be replicated. But it's been incredibly influential and important in lots of ways.
Alex Ferrari 37:00
And you were saying about them being playful. I'm not sure if they were the first I doubt they were. But they definitely brought it to the attention of breaking the fourth wall. You know, they weren't the first to break the fourth wall. But they
Richard Neupert 37:13
drew other people who had done it before, and usually in comedies, not in the middle of a chase scene. But certainly, I would say in in Pulp Fiction, she says, Don't be a square. You know, that's the kind of thing that a French New Wave character would do. Acknowledge the little dots or the little lines on the screen, acknowledge there's a there's something between the camera and the actors, there's an apparatus. That to me, is a real new way of kind of moment as well. Yeah, it's funny, it's silly, and it calls attention reminds us. We know we're what we're making a movie. We know you're watching a movie. And you know, it's just a movie. The French new way was always about that we're telling stories with cameras are steel. And just calling attention to that soundtrack would come and go the music would boom in and then just stop mid frame and stuff and just can remind you this is fun. We're at the movies and the movies can be fun and smart and challenging.
Alex Ferrari 38:04
Now what are the biggest lessons that today's filmmakers can learn from the the generation of the French New Wave?
Richard Neupert 38:12
One I think know your history so that you have a sense of where you come from, and you don't create those cliches. I'm also though I think make what is your movie. Now, a lot of times and I'm sure you've seen this with you know, filmmaker wannabes, and students who basically they each they have one or two filmmakers they know and they like like a Tarantino like a Wes Anderson. And they want to write scripts that just become like little shadow versions of instead you do what you want. So the new way of Claude Chabrol is going to tell him very personal stories that are about him and his life. He's going to make his first film, he goes back to where he spent time as a kid growing up during World War Two, and he uses friends from that, but he made back then, now they get to act in his movie, that's very different than go to our who's going to go out and try to find you know, hip new actors and actors to be actresses to be in his vision of a movie. Um, but they all look different, but they tell personal stories that to them matter in one way or another. So rather than replicating formulas, these are not movies where you can like, look at right, the midpoint and say, oh, here's the midpoint in the script. No, you don't have beats in the same way. They all are organic and personal. And I think that's really important that they pick topics that they can afford to make. They pick topics that are important to them. They use friends and others as positive influences on them. It's a group project, not one individuales notion. I think those things are really useful, but especially know your technology. What do you have access to? What can you do well with it, and what a rethink from it. How do you how do you say okay, how can I use this camera and not have it look like what everybody else has done with the same red camera? Can I do something different? So kind of thinking about the technology? That's really what they were fascinated with is sort of pushing it there. There's like we keep coming back to breathless, I guess because it's one of my favorites, but truth. But ghadar at one point told Google Paris cinematographer. This timer is like, you know, this film is just not fast enough for the scene you want to shoot here at night, we're gonna have to get some new film stock. And obviously, we don't have time to get new film stock. Let's shoot it now. And he says, I don't care. I want to hear it scream on the screen that you know, as the film feels like it's being overexposed or underexposed. That notion of pushing the film to do something never did before. That's some sort of new way of notion. And and with digital, it's a little different these days, certainly. But I think, yeah, rethinking digital cameras, and trying to rethink how the technology and the story you're telling, and your aesthetic choices all kind of come together to make something creative, a new, doesn't have to be revolutionary, but it should be new and interesting,
Alex Ferrari 40:40
and personal. And I think that's always the authentic and personal. It's always, even if it's an action or thriller, or something, if there is some sort of authenticity from the filmmaker inside. I think that's one thing that the film, the French New Wave directors have is each of their films has a little bit of their DNA in it without question.
Richard Neupert 40:59
And they knew the skills, they had skill sets. It's not like they were naive. They knew the skills, they knew they were breaking rules. It's not like they just grew up, but they you know, but yes, so their personal in that way too, that they say, Okay, I know how to do a shot reverse shot, I'm choosing not to so I'm going to do these alternatives. Same thing with storytelling, I'm not going to tell you all the psychological background on this character until maybe late in the film, or maybe not at all. So the scripts really left people guessing to like, Why is she with this guy? or Why is he just suddenly leaving her? I thought that was the one thing he wanted in his life. You don't answer all those questions. So the storytelling too, was something that left ambiguity and left openness in a way that genre films did not have that Europe. And I think early 60s films were very generic, very formulaic. And this stuff just seemed like it was coming out of you know, who knows where.
Alex Ferrari 41:47
Now, I'm gonna ask you the toughest question of them all. What are your three favorite film French New Wave films of all time?
Richard Neupert 41:55
Oh, gosh. I do think breathless I can watch it over and over and I teach it over and over. I'm too full. I gotta say, shoot, the piano player is done. His least pop one at the time. It's got a really raggedy kind of rhythm. It's got the best shootout in history. Talk about I mean, making no sense of spatially but it's emotional. Near the end. And Agnes Varda I think luminor at by Agnes Varda it's a beautiful color movie that is just about a young married couple happy married couple and he finds another woman on the side. And it's one of those lush uses of color at the era ever, ever. So I think Agnes bar does happiness for bunner cleona five, and it's very good to shoot the piano player, and and breathless are all very different movies. And I think any potential filmmaker can learn a lot from any of those.
Alex Ferrari 42:45
And where can people find your books on the subject if they want to dig a little deeper into the French New Wave and how they can that can help them today.
Richard Neupert 42:53
I do have the history of the French New Wave cinema. It's at Amazon and all over the place. It's one of the best selling Luckily, things. I also translated a book called The the French new ways the French New Wave by Michel Murray, which is much more concise thing about economics and things. But yeah, history of French New Wave is pretty easy to find out. Use bookstores as well don't want to just plug in Amazon. It's as well.
Alex Ferrari 43:18
Richard, thank you so much for coming on and talking shop about the French New Wave and how can it and how it can help filmmakers of today. rethink the way they're doing things and make maybe maybe create a new wave. I think we're due for a new a new wave there was that there was the dogma 95 there was the the mumble core movement. Yeah, yes, there was few many movements. I think we're do we're due for something new.
Richard Neupert 43:46
We are I think American independent cinema is great right now and it's getting better and better. Again. There is a new Renaissance, I hope Anyway, thank you. This was great. I'm talking about the new wave in a while. This is wonderful.
Alex Ferrari 43:57
Thank you, Richard.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
VIDEO ESSAY-RAOUL COUTARD
SPEAKER 1: The French New Wave for a brief moment ripped apart classical cinema and established their own language of cinema, but what fascinates me here today is the genesis of the French new wave and how Raoul Coutard cinematography plays a relatively unsung new brawl in the French New Wave’s look.
A quick new cap on what the French New Wave is, there were these four film critics who had an ambitious purpose in making film.
RICHARD BRODY: To do in cinema what (name 42) did in philosophy but in his view to do it better because of the distinctive ecstatic capacities of film.
SPEAKER 1: These four cinifiles(54) love film and distained conventional cinema they stopped searching for films they liked and jumped right into making their own films with essentially no training whatsoever.
During their inception they usually film on location and with either no crew or equipment beyond one camera and one camera man.
Raoul Coutard’s background id fascinating he was a war photographer and this became essential for him to work with someone as impossible as John the running gun style is perfect for the theme of Breathless the first Godard film.
It was simple audaciously un done before and only as open of mind as Coutard had been on board, but see that’s why Raul Coutard seems more and more to be the only cinematographer that could have worked with these types.
Raul Coutard had no reputation before his first films with the new wave directors because otherwise like trained cinematographers he would have been caught up in conventions and feared his reputation being on the line as an unconventional method pervaded the scenes.
Raul Coutard styles is described as having no style he was all over the place and I mean that in the best of ways this made sense as Coutard had no come to the industry with any text book training in fact he came with no training at all except with still photography.
Just another aspect of Coutard’s perspective towards film making that meant that he must have had truly an open mind.
See Coutard would just give the actress dialogue as they went along from shot to shot. They would walk into a space and Coutard would just say put the camera over there but what about something as crazy as to insure that no passerby would look into the camera when filming Breathless .
They would hide the camera in a low postman’s cart and go push is along (3:13)right next to the camera hunched down inside the cart as well. So why does this matter why didn’t they just earn the money to film conventionally, because to them the conventional cinema time was far detached from French life at the time not only was there a goal to observe French life but to also interpret meaning from life in general.
What did it mean to be in love or to search one’s self for identity? What did it mean to be alive and how to fight the of nihilism. What is French cinema and what is American cinema. What does it mean to make films most importantly what it mean to truly go along in natural moments.
Raoul Coutard’s shots never lost the sense of natural lightning. Raoul Coutard never loss the sense of a hand held.
After years of revolution finally (4:23) and in the time still shoots his films like old times. After years of frustrations, the marginalized critics felt the disdain for conventional cinema revolutionized filmmaking with their unconventional cinema techniques forwarding a philosophical meditation on world views to the medium of films and doing a completely low budget.
All it took were open minds working on films pushing the medium further, who better than to be the hand that paint the picture than him. Who better to be the cinematographer for the French New Wave than Raoul Coutard.
THE RULES OF EDITING FRENCH & AMERICAN
After world war two Hollywood continue to make movies in the same way it had before the war although editors were now unionized they were viewed for the most part as highly skilled mechanics.
PAUL HIRSCH: There was a man names Owen Marks he edited Touch by Forrest, Casa Blanca, Treasure Sierra Madre, East of Eden and his films are immortal and the man is completely unknown and it is sort of symbolic of the way editors have been ignored in the literature about Hollywood.
SPEAKER 1: Editors worked on Cutters Row and were expected to conform to the established rules of editing.
CAROL LITTLETON: If we were to think about the films that were being made there were a certain film language that were very, very distinct certain kinds of coverage long shot two shot single, single there was almost a formulate way of presenting films. This film language was very strict and in editorial terms there were rules that one felt could not be broken.
DEDE ALLEN: A master shot had to come first and then if you had an overshot then over shoulder and you never went to the close up until you have done the whole dance coming from far to close.
CAROL LITTLETON: For instance if you are going to have a transition from one place to the next you will be down for dissolve.
The next thing you got to remember is the gentleman you meet at the cold cut is not as attractive as the one you meet at the milk department at food doors.(1:35)
PAUL HIRSCH: In the forties and fifties the audience would expect a character to drive up and show them getting out of the car he would walk up to the building and then he would open the door and then he would match cut the door opening on the other side and he would walk in and come over and sit down.
ANNE COATES: It just seem to me absolutely stupid you had to show somebody coming down stairs and all the way across the road and to the side I mean you knew they were coming from here and going to there, why couldn’t you just cut directly.
SPEAKER 2: In France a group of film critics turn directors also challenged the doctrine of invisible editing and launched a revolution among editors.
ANNE COATES: When I first saw the (2:23) I instantly loved it I loved the idea I loved the way they edited and thought I would like to cut like that.
JOE DANTE: You know Godard use jump cuts because why not there isn’t nothing interesting happening in these middle parts so let’s cut to the jump cut.
ANTHONY GIBBS: When I saw the betters I was Stuttgart(2:52) at Godard’s brutality
QUENTIN TARANTINO: What they brought to editing was a breaking of the rules whatever books that said this is how it had to be done they burn them.
MARTIN SCORSES: Actress are too hip for me I come from Lorie Simon Italian American guy it is too beat, beat neck it’s like you know bulimia too cool I liked it I don’t know what the hell was happening.
RICHARD CHEW: You know when I first saw breathless in the sixties it was like wow I mean just in the first five minutes sequence and introducing John Paul Armandos character as a petit thief I mean every rule was violated in terms of how long to over shot the discontinuity of what was going on, even screen directions you know were mixed in and I thought either this guy doesn’t know what he was doing or he is so confident that he has the grammar film down that he is trying to show us a new way he used the material he has to tell the story.
RICHARD MARKS: There were some films that we had that really changed our perception of what filmmaking was and certainly it affected what editing was. I mean I think one of those films was certainly something like Bonnie & Clyde.
DEDE ALLEN: Some people say I broke those rues first I certainly did not, I mean the Russian broke those rules and the Germans broke those rules this was nothing new but it was new for Hollywood.
DYLAN TICHENOR: Several of those editors have had big impacts on me have influenced my thinking, Dede Allen certainly was the one that taught me that don’t be afraid to take the chance on doing something that doesn’t seem like it is going to work.
When Babe and Faye Donaway get to know each other they are standing on the street corner and she said I don’t believe you rob banks and he said yes I look at my gun and he pulls it out and hold it to her on the street corner and that could easily have been done with the tilt down to the gun the pan over to her hands fidgeting with the coke bottle up to her face, but it was done with her eyes looked from him down to the gun back to him.
It keeps you on edge there is this statement there is the danger there is the eroticism in not being able to fully get every moment because you are cutting off and you are not allowing moment to come to fruition.
RICHARD MARKS: Bonnie & Clyde was much more violent and basically the American likes violence much more than we do.
DEDE ALLEN: Well it was shot in so many wonderful ways this is the scene that Arthur intended be cut in this fashion, the fact that it was so beautifully executed right from the very first cut Jerry Greenburg was my assistant and on that last seen I was with Jerry and he did all the primary editing on that all I did was tighten it later.
RICHARD MARKS: Again one is not saying this is the beginning of the American any way because one is sure there was smaller films before that but this was the one like birth of a nation which suddenly an audio say wow.
Bonnie and Clyde paved the way for films like Easy Rider.
DON CAMBERN: So I had only one feature I was editing while they were travelling which was flowing in by the mile but it was great it was exciting it was totally different from anything I have been involved in these transitions that everybody remembers going in from one scene to the next where it flashed forward to the scene flashes back to the scene you are in.
Dennis didn’t want a straight cut I didn’t want dissolved so we kept throwing around so it is Dennis who scripted part of the idea why went and it came back yes, but let’s us do it three times we finally arrived at the length and each one is six screens and now we can use this whenever we want to and as it turned out it started to have a device and so we stopped doing that we are not going to do we are going to use in discretion places without giving anything away.
Everybody was stoned and they were shitty. I learned sooner on that I could not be stoned and edit while it was going on I thought it was grand and when I looked at it when I was straight I said this is awful and I had to throw it out and start all over.
This film is becoming an icon I am grateful that I had something to do with it because I had grown up in the thirties forties and fifties with movies as they were then. Finally we are going to run it for Columbia with Bill Jackie Chairman of the board it ended there was this long pause Bill finally stands up and he says I dint know what the fuck this picture means but I know we are going to make a fuck of a lot of money.
REAR WINDOW - FRENCH NEW WAVE
It is quite difficult when we look at God as the early films to separate them out from the other new wave directors people like (45) they all looked as if they are very much of the group they really stands out amongst that crowd certainly from the mid sixties onwards was that he just retained that kind of ferocious interrogation of cinema of the functions of cinema and of how cinema interacts with the world.
So I think there is that combination of on one hand curiosity intellectual curiosity but also just a really sharp almost philosophical intelligence that was fuelling that interrogation. One of the things that is interesting about Godard is that his work is instantly recognizable.
He walks just a few seconds of a shot and there is something about the lighting the framing the way the person moves. There are very, very few film makers that have been able to achieve that degree of that kind of signature to their work.
Godard starts out as a critic as a show film maker in the nineteen fifties breaks into feature film making with A Bout De Souffle (Breathless) as a massive international hit and basically sets him up for the rest of his career and then that sort of a first flourishing work which is really in relations to Hollywood and fuelled by a kind a cine flick engagement with cinema history continues from late fifties to about 1965.
What is so interesting about the film is that you are immediately launched into this kind of weird and wonderful world a kind of Syfy adventure set in contemporary Paris it is playful but it is also deadly serious in its critic of the commodification of Paris so I think it combines that engagement with Hollywood genre but also a political critic of the nefarious affects of capitalism and it brings together those two things in an absolutely perfect way.
I think it is very powerful very playful and very poetic it is beautiful film and there is a shift with (3:27) in particular but then films which (3:31) where Godard’s work takes on a more a sociological dimension he is more interested in engaging with society with contemporary France with pressing issues around consumers than around capitalism and then that leads into the collaborative work that he conducts with the (3:56) group from 1968 to 1972.
From 1973 Godard moves out of Parish moved first to (name4:11) and then to Holand Switzerland and then during that period he is really interested in multimedia and that period which included two massive TV series runs to 1979 then he returns to European art cinema which (4:30) in 1980 and then there is a period.
There is a kind of cycle of films that is often thought of as a kind of the films of the sublime to do with beauty we are going to engaging again with the history of painting the history of music basically the history of kind of classical art and trying to recuperate that back into the history of cinema and those films they are kind of fuels by the question of how to make images. What constitute a poetic image in cinema that is both informed by but different from all these other (5:11).
The lesser half of the eighties are characterized by a couple of quite difficult philosophical films King Layer and (5:19). It is also the period where he begins to work extensively on (5:25) cinema so he is big video graphic films history project is going to really dominate his work really over the decade from the mid late eighties to the end of the nineteen nineties.
When he completed is (5:38) cinema there was a kind of sense that he had come to the end of a massive project I think may critics almost write him off as though you know that’s it as he often does when people think he is he works himself into a dead end he came out with a completely new project which was the gallery installation in 2006 at the (name 6:01) centre and then since then he has product a string of highly experimental features alongside a lot of video essays.
If we look at a film like Adieu Au Language his recent foray in 3D it has been phenomenally successful with all audiences around the globe both young old the Goddard veterans but also those coming to his work for the first time.
Very, very often Godard’s work gets rejected or it gets classified as being difficult or being in accessible or elitist or whatever when it comes out but then a decade later or a couple of decade later it is reclassified as a classic and it actually becomes much more accessible.
I think that one of the things that became actually an obsession for Godard particularly in the late seventies and into the eighties was what is uniquely cinematic, what is cinema in the sense of how do we put together certain elements in a way that isn’t pre planned to create something that is absolutely unique and to allows some kind of insight that comes directly out of the imagining sound rather than out of written or spoken language.
The Godard classic narrative is intrinsically tied up with capitalism. Something that distinguish him slightly from some of his colleagues at the time the new wave is that he is coming out of a deep engagement with an awareness of political modernism.
He was familiar with experimental writings of people like Faulkner and Joyce and so on that through his sense of ability and experimentation that was to fuel his experimentation with narrative.
Godard’s relation to politics is fascinating and quite complex. There is one period that is the period of the (9:35) group where he is basically align himself with a kind of malice and political line everywhere else in his work his politics is really, really difficult to read and in all of his works and a very good example of this is Le Petit Soldat which is his second film which was band because of it illusion to torture and war.
The politic was a very young player what’s characteristic of that film is that it just wound everybody up because it seemed to be, it wasn’t a tool obvious of the way he was positioning himself.
I think what was interesting about that film in relation to his later work is that in his later work very often there are conflicting political position within a single work which are kind of yoked together and they are presented and they are presented as a problem or a question.
Looking again on some of the group universal film some of the political films they are much more interesting than they are often given credit for. There is a film from 1968 called (10:47) a film like any other Godard basically kind of film students and worker in discussion about the implications of the events in May 1968 which is inter cut with Al kibo (11:00) footage of the events that have gone on from May throughout the rest of May of 1968 and seeing it again recently it just struck me that they gave an absolutely fantastic.
The historical glimpse into the mentality of that period better written than any other film I can think of, the key concerns that the few of Godard’s work for that period is an attempt to find some kind of constructive dialogue between intellectuals and workers.
As for Godard’s representation of women it is complex and it is more interesting than is often recognized. There is a time in the late sixties and then into the late seventies where Godard starts engaging with feminists this is probably through (12:09) for example in (12:10) in 1975 (name)the female unit is cited fairly extensively on the sound tract.
It is not as if Godard is unaware of his use of the naked female body in his films. British sounds quite a good example because there we have a young naked woman where the text on the soundtrack which is just opposed with the representation of that body is basically one it is a feminist text about the exploitation of women in society and the exploitation of the images of women.
If Godard lesson own works which is TV series from 1976 that Godard navo made a very short notice within a very that is just a perfect Godard interruption.
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