182417 FR1113 essay 1.docx

 

‘French cinema engaged most
directly with the explosion of May 68 not as the events unfolded, but before
and after’. Discuss.

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 The cathartic event of May 68, French cinema
played an important role in its revolutionary outcome. The ideological
divisions in the protests between students and the French government could be
seen as manifesting themselves in the area of film, through the various
oppositional positions amongst filmmakers whose views were compatible with the
students’. Earlier in 68, events in the world of cinema triggered the riots of
May 68, starting with the dismissal of Henry Langlois, who set up and nurtured
the Cinematheque Française. “Andre Malreaux, the Minister of culture at the
time terminated the archive’s subsidy, claiming administrative incompetence, and
moved to appoint a new head”. This dismissal triggered different protests among
French Film students, however they carried on getting their education through
screenings at the Cinematheque. New Wave directors such as Truffaut, Godard and
Resnais labelled themselves as “The children of the cinematheque”, so much so
that even in the Cannes festival “a protest was triggered and Louis Malle and
Roman Polanski refused to take part in the jury panel”. Malraux decided to back
off and Langlois came back as the head of the cinematheque. However, the riots
did not stop there, so much so that they were actually incorporated into the
movies in order to reflect the frustrations of the rioting population.

 

The
Langlois affair showed that, despite their political and cinematic differences
and perspectives, the Nouvelle Vague directors worked as a team in order to
offer their aid in this 1968 affair. After their work criticised from different
critics, and the film industry started to pronounce itself, they felt more
willing to avouch themselves as part of the movement than they had at the
start, therefore making their influence very effective through the world of
film. Truffaut himself wrote in a 1967 issue of Cahiers du Cinéma:
“Before, when we were interviewed (…) we said, ‘The New Wave doesn’t exist, it
doesn’t mean anything.’ But later, we had to change, and ever since that moment
I’ve affirmed my participation in the movement. Now, in 1967, we are proud to
have been and to remain part of the New Wave, just as one is proud to have been
a Jew during the Occupation.”

 

An
ever lasting legacy of the French New Wave was the catalyst that started very
similar 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 inspired
by the narrative techniques started by the Nouvelle Vague directors, and also
in Europe, where young directors wanted to break away from traditional film
making and to voice their own views and opinions in certain subjects.

 

 In France as well, the success of the Nouvelle
Vague continued to open doors for new directors.  Barbet Schroeder for example (More (1969)),
Jean Eustache (La Maman et La Putain (1973)) and Philipe
Garrel (L’Enfant Secret (1979)), were part of what could be
considered a post New Wave, more like a second wave after the events of 1968,
which continued to support political views in France, and different movements
from the French population. They, and other directors, began, like their
predecessors, writing for Cahiers du Cinéma, before turning to making
films themselves, thus making an influential difference in the current affairs
in France at the time.

 

However,
in the 1980’s a new generation of young directors appeared in France. Named by
the French media the “New New Wave”, the three key individuals in the
group, Jean-Jacques Beineix, Luc Besson and Leos Carax, were swift to separate themselves
from the earlier movement, expressing anti-New Wave opinions in interviews.
Their films, such as Subway (Besson (1985) were received in a negative
for prioritising style over content. Their style of making films became known
as the ‘cinema du look’, and, although it was very popular, it was also thought
by a lot of people to offer much more than slick visuals and alluring stars.

The
tragic sudden death of Truffaut in 1984 brought an end to the career of the
best known and best loved of the French New Wave directors. Aside from his
dedicated work, Truffaut himself became a hero and an icon and inspiration
for passionate and idealistic young directors, determined to remake cinema according
to their own ideals and terms.

As
for his Nouvelle Vague opinions and ideals, they continue making waves to this
day. Godard, Chabrol, Resnais, and others associated with the
movement, are all now auteurs in their own right, with an international line of
devoted followers and fans of their work. Their constant output continues to
challenge around the world audiences and expand the boundaries of cinematic
expression. Reflections of their work and new editions of New Wave works
continue to liven up the cultural revolution that produced some of the best films
ever made and changed the course of cinema and French history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography and
filmography

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.