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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 5:36 pm 
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Cinephrenic wrote:
Classe tous risques is not new wave.

Really? I was under the impression it was.

Cinephrenic wrote:
I don't think we can label every film between 58-74 or something French new wave because Sautet was outside the whole movement. Some say Melville was a new wave director, but he was making films before the movement launched.

Melville is not New Wave.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 7:07 pm 
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To use the Bordwell/Thompson definition, to be part of the French New Wave you really had to be one of the Young Turks from Cahiers. Demy, Resnais, and Varda were Left Bank and directors like Malle filled a gray area. Then again, the Neupert definition basically gives any French director from the period a claim on being New Wave, so I doubt there will ever be a true consensus.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 7:37 pm 
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True. That is why it's probably better to look at the style in which the film was filmed instead of saying he/she is a French new wave director. The movement was short lived, but had a huge influence and impact on cinema. Take for instance Godard. He made some key works in the 60s and then went into political critique and then reinvented himself again with lesser impact, from his previous successes. I wouldn't call him a new wave director today, but he certainly invented the movement, along with Truffaut, Chabrol, Rivette, Rohmer, and others.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:33 pm 
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Demy was Left Bank? I know why he's grouped in with them, but I remember being taught that Left Bank was Varda, Resnais, Marker, and Franju. The New Wave applies to both the 5 directors AND to the more general post-modern movement, which can include certain films by Resnais, Malle, Melville, etc... though I would consider Melville and Malle to be more Modernist directors, as opposed to Godard's & Rivette's post-modernism. But to pull the carpet out from under me, I'm probably wrong to throw the terms mo and pomo into the mix.

Also, this should really be a separate category I'm thinking.... mods?


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:40 pm 
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justeleblanc wrote:
Demy was Left Bank? I know why he's grouped in with them, but I remember being taught that Left Bank was Varda, Resnais, Marker, and Franju. The New Wave applies to both the 5 directors AND to the more general post-modern movement, which can include certain films by Resnais, Malle, Melville, etc... though I would consider Melville and Malle to be more Modernist directors, as opposed to Godard's & Rivette's post-modernism. But to pull the carpet out from under me, I'm probably wrong to throw the terms mo and pomo into the mix.

Also, this should really be a separate category I'm thinking.... mods?

I looked it up and I was mistaken: Bordwell and Thompson lump Demy at the tail end of the French New Wave discussion, but even though Lola basically got made thanks to Godard, I'm not entirely convinced he should be considered a New Wave director... maybe more a gray area like Malle.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:41 pm 
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Cahiers du cinema critics were Truffaut, Godard, Rohmer, Chabrol, and Rivette. The most prominent members of the movement. Left-bank contributors were Malle, Resnais, Varda, Lelouch, Costa-Gavras, Bresson, Melville, and Demy. Others with minor work in the movement were Rozier, Eustache, Lafont, Marker, & Moullet. I gathered these from various readings and books on the subject.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:52 pm 
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Except since Moullet wrote regularly for Cahiers, I feel he must be included in the New Wave label, despite his late entry to the game, but more as an also-ran.

Lelouch is in my opinion a hack who made faux-New Wave for the masses with his A Man And A Woman.

Bresson and Melville were quite influential on the New Wave, but were not New Wave (or Left Bank) themselves. Indeed, Cahiers du Cinema (though admittedly no longer run by the Young Turks) fiercely rejected most of Melville's later works. These two were already well-established in French Cinema before the movement struck.

Costa-Gavras is not New Wave, but New Cinema.


Last edited by domino harvey on Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:58 pm 
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Costa-Gavras, Melville, and Sautet were mainly making thrillers throughout their careers, so I personally don't consider their films anything new wave-ish. Expecially Bresson, whom really had a major influence on the Young Turks. It would be silly to include him as one. But he is often included in readings on the net with no apparent explanation. I don't see the connection. More like remodernist.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:01 am 
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I based everything in the above post on credible sources (and can site any point if so-desired), the thing is even credible non-internet sources are rarely infallible. I read a Godard book that claimed he only liked one Truffaut film, the 400 Blows, which should come as some surprise to Godard, who listed both Shoot the Piano Player and Jules and Jim on his yearly Top 10 lists for Cahiers. Neupert's definition of New Wave differs from Bordwell/Thompson differs from Kline and so on ad infinitum. Really, when it comes down to it, you just sort of have to make your own personal definition of New Wave and defend it as best as you can.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:35 am 
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I've had a hard time tracking down "Left Bank" roots so I may be wrong, but from what I've read, Marker, Resnais, Franju, and Varda began their careers about 5-10 years earlier than the New Wavers with political documentaries (Franju's doc about animal cruelty included), which were very different from the aesthetic movement of the New Wave.

Filmmakers such as Melville, Tati, Bresson, and even Malle were a different movement that was less associated with France than with the rest of the world. I hope it's not too controversial a statement (and please don't all attack me if it is) to say that Bresson has more in common with Bergman than other French directors, and likewise Melville with Ray, and Malle with Bertolucci (despite B's obsessions with Godard). I've heard them called "Modernist" before which may be the wrong term to use (assuming New Wave was "post-modern" but I think it's correct not to associate these directors as a whole with either the Left Bank or New Wave movements.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 1:17 am 

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Raymond Durgnat's Nouvelle Vague: The First Decade (published February 1963) includes all of the so-called Left Bank directors in the New Wave, as well as Melville and Malle (among many others). Furthermore, he includes films dating back to 1946-47 (in the cases of Jean Rouch and Alain Resnais).

There's an ad in the front of the publication for the December 1962 issue of Cahiers du cinéma which reads: "Nouvelle Vague Francaise: Dictionnaire de 150 Jeunes cinéastes". This would tend to suggest that Cahiers's own conception of the New Wave was significantly more inclusive than just the Young Turks of Cahiers.

For what it's worth, Sautet, Lelouch, and Costa-Gavras are not included in Durgnat's roundup (of course the latter two had barely begun their careers by February 1963).


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 1:19 am 
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I'm not sure whether the New Wave filmmakers can be considered as postmodern - they are probably still operating at the tail-end of modernism before it tips over somewhere/somehow into messy and fragmented definitions of postmodernity. It is of course debatable whether the notion of postmodernism represents an identifiable shift - are we still in late modernism, or perhaps post-modernism? It would be helpful, but I'll be damned if I'm going to return to Jameson to check his definition!

MacCabe on Godard:

Quote:
Modernism can be understood as the reaction by artists to the new forms of capitalist culture linked to mass audiences (starting with tabloid newspapers and culmianting in our day with satellite television). The work of Godard takes place within those very forms. It poses the paradoxes of modernism at their most acute. There is an almost total rejection of the stereotypical and the generic which demands an extraordinary level of active engagement by the viewer within forms whose economic conditions of existence demand a mass audience.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 1:34 am 
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fred wrote:
Raymond Durgnat's Nouvelle Vague: The First Decade (published February 1963) includes all of the so-called Left Bank directors in the New Wave, as well as Melville and Malle (among many others). Furthermore, he includes films dating back to 1946-47 (in the cases of Jean Rouch and Alain Resnais).

Very interesting, I will have to try and find a copy thru the usual channels before I make any judgments, but I would say that a classification made during the height of the phenomena fails to contain the hindsight of examining and cataloging the movement all these decades later. Still, sounds like a good read!


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 1:25 am 
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domino harvey wrote:
To use the Bordwell/Thompson definition, to be part of the French New Wave you really had to be one of the Young Turks from Cahiers. Demy, Resnais, and Varda were Left Bank and directors like Malle filled a gray area. Then again, the Neupert definition basically gives any French director from the period a claim on being New Wave, so I doubt there will ever be a true consensus.

In my opinion this is a specious, ahistorical distinction. The Cahiers and Left Bank groups form two clearly distinguishable factions within the Nouvelle Vague, but the perception of a new wave in French cinema came from the one-two punch of Les 400 coups and Hiroshima, mon amour in 1959 (and I'd argue that it was the latter that most clearly signalled a breach with tradition). You'd be hard pressed to find any serious critic in the first 30 years of its existence as a film-historical concept promulgating a model of the NV that excluded Resnais. The Cahiers group have always had a stronger media profile, for obvious reasons, but they were never the entirety of the Nouvelle Vague.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 2:44 am 
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Quote:
the perception of a new wave in French cinema came from the one-two punch of Les 400 coups and Hiroshima, mon amour in 1959

Not to be glib, but whose perception declared these two films to be the start of the New Wave? Again, I'm not terribly beholden to a movement's past interpretation as much as I am keen on it's most current workable definition. To me there is a huge distinction between the films and importantly the filmmakers of the Left Bank and the films of the Young Turk's New Wave and further classifying these factions allows for more accurate labels and approaches.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 5:02 pm 
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domino harvey wrote:
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the perception of a new wave in French cinema came from the one-two punch of Les 400 coups and Hiroshima, mon amour in 1959

Not to be glib, but whose perception declared these two films to be the start of the New Wave?

Uh, nearly half a century of critical consensus? Art-historical and film-historical generalisations like "the New Wave" can only ever work through consensus. You're free to argue that Monet wasn't really an Impressionist, or that Wire weren't really a punk band (hey, they were on Harvest!), if that suits your particular academic convenience, but it doesn't wipe out everybody else's opinion to the contrary.

The Left Bank group was indeed significantly different from the Cahiers group (but the distinction is far from clear-cut - Rivette arguably has more in common with Resnais than with Truffaut) - just as Wire don't have a hell of a lot in common with Sham 69, but that's no reason to kick them out of the critical pantheon that was in large part originally constructed around them. Like it or not, 'Nouvelle vague' has long been used and understood as a necessarily loose term of convenience that incorporates the Cahiers group, the Left Bankers and loose ends like Malle.

(Trying to get somehow back in the neighbourhood of the topic:) Ultimately this is all just semantics (but again, semantics only work through consensus, not through assertion or argument), and I'd expect any and all of the above to be under consideration for a New Wave Eclipse box. However, also according to the critical consensus, filmmakers like Melville and Bresson, and films like Class tous risques, don't fall under the NV banner, however radical, energetic or influential some of Melville's films, for example, might be.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 6:10 pm 
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zedz wrote:
domino harvey wrote:
Quote:
the perception of a new wave in French cinema came from the one-two punch of Les 400 coups and Hiroshima, mon amour in 1959

Not to be glib, but whose perception declared these two films to be the start of the New Wave?

Uh, nearly half a century of critical consensus?

Accepting your definition of New Wave to include Malle, his Elevator to the Gallows and Chabrol's Le Beau Serge both came before 400 Blows and Hiroshima, Mon Amour, so I'm curious as to what scholars or critics specifically are included in your claim of "critical consensus" from the past almost half-century?


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 6:59 pm 
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domino harvey wrote:
Accepting your definition of New Wave to include Malle, his Elevator to the Gallows and Chabrol's Le Beau Serge both came before 400 Blows and Hiroshima, Mon Amour, so I'm curious as to what scholars or critics specifically are included in your claim of "critical consensus" from the past almost half-century?

Not every film by a "New Wave" director qualifies as a "New Wave" film. I don't think anybody's ever tried to co-opt Le Monde de silence, for example. Le Beau Serge, on the other hand, is frequently cited as the first feature of the NV, though stylistically it's pretty timid, and Elevator has also had its strong supporters (but, getting back to my previous point, in the absense of consensus, these are always simply special-case arguments).

As for consensus, good grief, visit your local library! Here are the first three books I grabbed off my shelf, of various weights and vintages:

Cinema: A Critical Dictionary, Richard Roud, 1980. On Resnais: "The 'New Wave' movement may not have been as strong or as unified as we once thought, but Resnais has always been part of a small group of friends, the Left Bank Group, who have pursued common goals[. . .]" - i.e. the Left Bank Group is an acknowledged subset of the NV.

Guide for the Film Fanatic, Danny Peary, 1986. On Hiroshima: "Alain Resnais's complex first feature, a seminal film of the French New Wave [. . .]"

French New Wave, Jean Douchet, 1998. Resnais, Varda, Marker all classified as directors of the New Wave (cf. Malle, who is classified as "Pre-New Wave" along with Melville, Astruc, Rouch). You ought to track this down, as it goes into considerable detail about the origins of the expression "nouvelle vague", which predates almost all of the films under consideration and was not initially film-specific. Douchet persuasively traces the origins of the movement not to one or other faction, but to producer Pierre Braunberger and the Films de la Pleiade (and specifically to Coup de berger, 1956).

Three strikes: you're out.

Oh, and here's a fourth which is sure to infuriate you:

Dictionary of Films, Georges Sadoul, 1965. On La Pointe-Courte, made in 1955 by not only a Left Banker (not rhyming slang) but a Woman (grab the smelling salts!): "This is certainly the first film of the French nouvelle vague."

Which makes four documented decades of critical consensus. Case closed.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 7:25 pm 
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All those examples prove my point, which that they seem to contradict amongst themselves in terms of what precisely started and which directors comprised the New Wave. I would object to your "three strikes" claim because by no means does three scholars constitute a home run, to mix unfortunate metaphors. But the spirit of your response notwithstanding, I appreciate you posting actual scholarly material to defend your claim-- I wasn't asking because I thought they didn't exist, I was genuinely curious.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 7:45 pm 
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The point you made, and which I was rebutting, was that only the Cahiers group were 'real' New Wave directors, and the Left Bank Group weren't. This is contrary to the commonly understood definition of the film-historical term 'New Wave', as I have easily demonstrated with the above examples. I realise it's a lot to expect a gracious backdown after your previous "you and whose army?" bluster, but it's a bit rich to claim this as a victory for your argument! You asked for evidence of the 'consensus' you sneeringly denied. I provided it. In order to refute this evidence you need to provide counter-evidence to establish that these four sources were madcap voices in the wilderness and 90% of commentators over the past 40 years have unambiguously classified Resnais et al as "definitely not New Wave." You won't find it.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 8:11 pm 
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Before you try to find your library card, maybe these four shots will kill this zombie once and for all. Again, these are just the next few books from the shelf - no evidence to the contrary has been forthcoming so far:

Raymond Durgnat, in his Renoir biography refers in passing to the "Cahiers subgroup" of the nouvelle vague (p 393)

The Oxford Companion to Film, supporting my previous mention of the defining Truffaut / Resnais double-blow: "The real breakthrough came with the success at Cannes in 1959 of Truffaut's Les quatre cents coups (prize for direction) and Alain Resnais's Hiroshima mon amour (International Critics' Prize)." Right or wrong, this is such a critical commonplace I'm surprised you've never come across it. However much you can quibble about the margins of the NV, Resnais has always been dead centre.

And finally - if this doesn't settle things, nothing will - there's Truffaut himself, in The Films in My Life, beginning the section entitled "My Friends in the New Wave" with an appreciation of Resnais's Nuit et brouillard. Also included are Varda's Pointe Courte, Muriel, a couple of Malles and some even more non-canonical selections. If the nouvelle vague was anybody's party, it was surely Truffaut's. I don't think he needs a bouncer enforcing an imaginary dress code.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 8:29 pm 
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It seems that cinephiles or Film Studies types - mostly Anglo-American ones not yet born in 1959* - like to debate about what constitutes the 'true' New Wave just as Reformation theologians might quibble over which is the true Church. But it can hardly be boxed as an artistic movement in the same sense that, e.g., Futurism can. Surely the classification depends on the parameters selected by the classifier. In a sense this is a dead argument, since the films from that historical period are all made and finite, but critics/theorists continue to reclassify them to no obvious effect. Maybe the intensity of the argument is related to the sense of living in an era in which that vital New Wave impulse seems almost irretrievably lost.

*(including myself in this category)


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2007 4:06 pm 

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Durgnat's book is teriffic. He sees the "New Wave" as a style an an attitude as much as the group of Cahiers du Cinema film critics who became film directors that it actually was. Consequently he discusses Melville, who was very much a father figure to the "Wave" -- not just because he appeared in Breathless but because of Bob le Flambeur which was shot in the off-thecuff style that became a "New Wave" signature.

It was Richard Roud who identified the "Left Bank School" (Resnais, Varda, Marker) as different from the rest of the "New Wave." Being married to Varda, Demy was part of this school himself. What primarily differentiates them from the others is their leftist politics. The Cahiers crowd was quite right-wing until May '68


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2007 7:04 pm 
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David Ehrenstein wrote:
The Cahiers crowd was quite right-wing until May '68

David, by right-wing, do you mean "not leftist" or actually right wing? Isn't the neo-realism style inherently left-wing, if you consider it's a movement against the bigger business films being made. Similarly, isn't the Brechtian style also inherently left-wing, again calling attention to the capitalist main-stream industry?

And more specifically, Truffaut's films of free love and and anti-government, Godard's frequent anti-war and anti-capitalist statements, and even Rohmer's semi-agnostic teachings of moral behavior.... I just don't see these as right wing at all. Where am I wrong?


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2007 10:14 pm 

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Actually right wing.

Read Truffaut's "A Certain Tendency in the French Cinema."
The founding document of la politique des auteurs the actual content of this essay has never been discussed outside France.


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