In 1954 Truffaut's now famous essay "A Certain Tendency in French Cinema" appeared in the subversive journal Cahiers du Cinema and rocked the foundations of the film world. He called for an end to the "cinema de papa" (the glossy and... [more]
In 1954 Truffaut's now famous essay "A Certain Tendency in French Cinema" appeared in the subversive journal Cahiers du Cinema and rocked the foundations of the film world. He called for an end to the "cinema de papa" (the glossy and impersonal cinema produced by the studio system) and insisted instead that the director act as auteur, using film as a means for personal artistic expression. The method preferred by French New Wavers, mise-en-scene, involved the creation of mood and ambience through camera placement and movement, and with it began the cinematic reign of the long shot.
At approximately the same time, Polish film, which had hitherto been a toothless affair under the control of Soviet censorship, began a transformation made possible by the death of Stalin (1953). While the French and Polish political climates were clearly disparate, the Polish New Wave warmed to the aesthetic principles put forth by Truffaut and company. In 1956 the Polish Communist Party Chief, Wladislaw Gomulka, decreed a complete de-Stalinization of Poland, clearing the way for Polish film to develop its own agenda and style. The training ground for the Polish New Wave was the Lodz School, which graduated such notable talents as Andrzej Munk, Andrzej Wajda, and Roman Polanski. It was Polanski, especially after his move to France, who placed the work of Polish directors in the international spotlight.
In Poland the censorship was not over, however, for in the late 1950s and early 1960s Gomulka launched a new attack on the national cinema, this time for representing Polish domestic life in a negative light. Filmmakers were to face another onslaught of censorship a decade or so later at the desperate hands of an empire that was beginning to crumble under the pressures of the Cold War.