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New Wave

  New Wave (nouvelle vague) was the name given to a large group of film directors who began working in French cinema in the late 1950s—in 1959-1960 alone, principal photography began on 67 individual projects. The New Wave swept aside such established names as Marcel Carné, René Clément and even Jean Renoir. For all the bitterness felt in the profession at the time, the change was salutary: Chabrol, Godard, Malle, Resnais, Rohmer, Truffaut and Vadim created a vigorous new tradition, capable of infinite variety, from the loose, quasi-documentary style of Godard to the imponderabilities of Renais and to Chabrol\'s Hitchcockian panache. The ‘New Wave Style’, however, is best exemplified in the films of Truffaut and Malle, and as such has influenced foreign directors from Antonioni to Altman, from Forman to Kubrick. Its main characteristics are a recognizably personal directorial imprint on each film (the director as ‘auteur’ of the experience, that is, prime organizer and creative guarantor, is a vital concept in New Wave criticism), a tendency towards understatement and intellectual fastidiousness (very unlike the raucous, ever-bigger and splashier style of Hollywood films of the same period and subsequently), and a loose, fluid style of shooting and montage influenced by television. There have been two subsequent ‘New Waves’ (the term is a handy critical reach-me-down): one in the US (led by Coppola, Scorsese and the young Spielberg) and one in Germany (led by Fassbinder and Herzog). KMcL

See also auteur theory.Further reading P. Graham (ed.), The New Wave.



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