From its humble yet radical beginning as an underground movement, the French New Wave completely transformed how the world thinks about film. A long-running series of legal battles over who deserved credit for specific films, by the 1950s, brought the question... [more]
From its humble yet radical beginning as an underground movement, the French New Wave completely transformed how the world thinks about film. A long-running series of legal battles over who deserved credit for specific films, by the 1950s, brought the question of authorship to the forefront of French culture. Film theorist and cofounder of the influential journal Cahiers du Cinema (1951), Andre Bazin, developed the auteur theory, which gave credit to the director as the ultimate author. Young filmmakers including Francois Truffaut rallied around Cahiers, adopting Bazin's ideals and producing films that would soon be dubbed New Wave.
Inspired by certain American directors who had left their personal stamp on films despite the rigid constraints of the studio system, New Wave directors Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer, et al. set out with the explicit intent of exploring the relationships between director and film, reality and fiction, artist and model. They developed new methods of filmmaking such as location shooting and improvisation. Rejecting cinematic formulae and the studio-bound approach of 1950s mainstream cinema, New Wave directors assumed a casual approach to cinematic conventions -- editing in a freer style and implementing looser construction of scenarios.
Bazin resurrected the principle of mise-en-scene (literally, "putting on stage"), a style of filming that emphasizes the creation of setting and overall mood through the use of long takes, camera placement, and action as a direct extension of the director's vision. Rather than using the camera as a documentary device, the New Wave director transformed the camera into a a portal to a filmic universe, corroding the barrier between reality and fiction. [show less]