182417 FR1113 essay 1.docx ‘French cinema engaged mostdirectly with the explosion of May 68 not as the events unfolded, but beforeand after’. Discuss.
The cathartic event of May 68, French cinemaplayed an important role in its revolutionary outcome. The ideologicaldivisions in the protests between students and the French government could beseen as manifesting themselves in the area of film, through the variousoppositional positions amongst filmmakers whose views were compatible with thestudents’. Earlier in 68, events in the world of cinema triggered the riots ofMay 68, starting with the dismissal of Henry Langlois, who set up and nurturedthe Cinematheque Française. “Andre Malreaux, the Minister of culture at thetime terminated the archive’s subsidy, claiming administrative incompetence, andmoved to appoint a new head”. This dismissal triggered different protests amongFrench Film students, however they carried on getting their education throughscreenings at the Cinematheque. New Wave directors such as Truffaut, Godard andResnais labelled themselves as “The children of the cinematheque”, so much sothat even in the Cannes festival “a protest was triggered and Louis Malle andRoman Polanski refused to take part in the jury panel”. Malraux decided to backoff and Langlois came back as the head of the cinematheque. However, the riotsdid not stop there, so much so that they were actually incorporated into themovies in order to reflect the frustrations of the rioting population.
TheLanglois affair showed that, despite their political and cinematic differencesand perspectives, the Nouvelle Vague directors worked as a team in order tooffer their aid in this 1968 affair. After their work criticised from differentcritics, and the film industry started to pronounce itself, they felt morewilling to avouch themselves as part of the movement than they had at thestart, therefore making their influence very effective through the world offilm. Truffaut himself wrote in a 1967 issue of Cahiers du Cinéma:”Before, when we were interviewed (…) we said, ‘The New Wave doesn’t exist, itdoesn’t mean anything.’ But later, we had to change, and ever since that momentI’ve affirmed my participation in the movement. Now, in 1967, we are proud tohave been and to remain part of the New Wave, just as one is proud to have beena Jew during the Occupation.” Anever lasting legacy of the French New Wave was the catalyst that started verysimilar movements throughout the world. In America for example the “movie brat”generation of directors who appeared in the 1960’s and 70’s, was incredibly inspiredby the narrative techniques started by the Nouvelle Vague directors, and alsoin Europe, where young directors wanted to break away from traditional filmmaking and to voice their own views and opinions in certain subjects. In France as well, the success of the NouvelleVague continued to open doors for new directors.
Barbet Schroeder for example (More (1969)),Jean Eustache (La Maman et La Putain (1973)) and PhilipeGarrel (L’Enfant Secret (1979)), were part of what could beconsidered a post New Wave, more like a second wave after the events of 1968,which continued to support political views in France, and different movementsfrom the French population. They, and other directors, began, like theirpredecessors, writing for Cahiers du Cinéma, before turning to makingfilms themselves, thus making an influential difference in the current affairsin France at the time. However,in the 1980’s a new generation of young directors appeared in France. Named bythe French media the “New New Wave”, the three key individuals in thegroup, Jean-Jacques Beineix, Luc Besson and Leos Carax, were swift to separate themselvesfrom the earlier movement, expressing anti-New Wave opinions in interviews.Their films, such as Subway (Besson (1985) were received in a negativefor prioritising style over content. Their style of making films became knownas the ‘cinema du look’, and, although it was very popular, it was also thoughtby a lot of people to offer much more than slick visuals and alluring stars.Thetragic sudden death of Truffaut in 1984 brought an end to the career of thebest known and best loved of the French New Wave directors.
Aside from hisdedicated work, Truffaut himself became a hero and an icon and inspirationfor passionate and idealistic young directors, determined to remake cinema accordingto their own ideals and terms.Asfor his Nouvelle Vague opinions and ideals, they continue making waves to thisday. Godard, Chabrol, Resnais, and others associated with themovement, are all now auteurs in their own right, with an international line ofdevoted followers and fans of their work. Their constant output continues tochallenge around the world audiences and expand the boundaries of cinematicexpression. Reflections of their work and new editions of New Wave workscontinue to liven up the cultural revolution that produced some of the best filmsever made and changed the course of cinema and French history.
Bibliography andfilmography La maman et la Putain. (1973). DVD Directed by J.
Eustache.L’enfant secret. (1979). DVD Directed by P. Garrel.More. (1969).
DVD Directed by B.schroeder.Newwavefilm.
com. (2017). French New Wave : Complete Guide.online Available at: http://www.newwavefilm.com Accessed 18 Dec. 2017.
Subway. (1985). DVD Directed by Besson.