Nouvelle Vague

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A film movement, or moment, that was current in France in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Also known as the French New Wave, Nouvelle Vague was influenced by Italian neo-realism and similarly rebelled against the prevailing national trend of big budget literary adaptations and costume dramas. The term Nouvelle Vague was coined by L'Express editor Françoise Giroud to describe the emergent youth culture of the period. The association with cinema grew out of the popularity of films like Et Dieu créa la femme (And God Created Woman, 1956), which was directed by a 28-year-old Roger Vadim. Nouvelle Vague was a highly intellectual cinematic form and many of its most important directors were film critics writing for Cahiers du cinéma who seized the opportunity the demand for a jeune cinéma (young or youthful cinema) presented (e.g. Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer, and François Truffaut). Not explicitly political, Nouvelle Vague was nonetheless highly critical of the consumer culture that was beginning to dominate French life at that time. Therefore it sought to make films which did not conform to the safe commercial formulas of the mainstream. So it did away with the establishing shot and introduced the jump cut instead. It did away with standard narrative trajectories and focused instead on the ambiguous complexities of human relationships, which in real life do not have neat beginnings, middles, or ends. Coinciding with the rise of auteur theory, Nouvelle Vague directors held to the idea that films could be imbued with a signature style and did not have to be anonymous commodities.

Subjects: Literature.

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