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The New Wave: How The French Reinvented Cinema

COURSES

Instructor
Term
  • Autumn
Subject Code
FRENCH
Course Number
87N
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The New Wave: How The French Reinvented Cinema

When the French New Wave burst onto the stage in 1959, it changed forever the way films are made and the ways we think about cinema. Shooting on location with small crews, light cameras, unknown actors and improvised scripts, a group of young film critics turned filmmakers circumvented the big studios to craft low-budget films that felt fresh, irreverent and utterly modern. In just a few years, the Nouvelle Vague delivered such landmark works as Truffaut's 400 Blows, Godard's Breathless or Resnais' Hiroshima mon amour. Together with Agnès Varda, Eric Rohmer and Claude Chabrol, they redefined the essence of cinema as an art form as complex and multi-layered as literature. Yet, after having been hailed as revolutionary, the Nouvelle Vague was soon dismissed as 'rather vague and not all that new.'nnWhy did these films look so radically fresh? What is their common aesthetics, when each 'auteur' claimed an utterly personal style for him or herself? And what did their immediate success and early fall from grace tell us about France in the early 60s? This survey course will explore a unique moment in French culture and the history of cinema, when radical politics, youth culture, and jazzy aesthetics coalesced into dazzling experiments on the screen that continue to influence world cinema to this day.nnFocus is on cultural history, aesthetic analysis, and interpretation of narrative, sound and visual forms.nnSatisfies Ways AII (Aesthetic and Interpretative Inquiry)