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New Wave Cinema. Film Realism and Formalism. Table of Contents. 1) Nouvelle vague 2) Nouvelle vague’s contribution to film realism 3) Realism or Formalism?. Nouvelle vague. ‘New Wave’ Cinema

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New wave cinema

New Wave Cinema

Film Realism and Formalism

Table of contents
Table of Contents

1) Nouvelle vague

2) Nouvelle vague’s contribution to film realism

3) Realism or Formalism?

Nouvelle vague
Nouvelle vague

  • ‘New Wave’ Cinema

  • Films in the late 1950s and 1960s which are loosely linked by their self-conscious rejection of conventional filmmaking methods.

  • Radical experiments in narrative construction, mise-en-scène, montage, and subjects and themes (political)

Nouvelle vague1
Nouvelle vague

Jean-Luc Godard François Truffaut

(1930- ) (1932-1984)

Nouvelle vague2
Nouvelle vague

Eric Rohmer Claude Chabrol

(1920- ) (1930 - )

Nouvelle vague3
Nouvelle vague

Jacques Rivette André Bazin

(1928 - ) (1918 - 1958)

Nouvelle vague4
Nouvelle vague

Film journalists and critics for Cahiers du cinema

a) Attacked the films of many master filmmakers of the day

Nouvelle vague5
Nouvelle vague

  • Reappraisal of certain directors considered as outdated (Jean Renoir and Max Ophüls);

  • eccentric (Jacques Tati and Robert Bresson);

  • and unimportant and inartistic (Howard Hawks, Otto Preminger, Samuel Fuller, Nicholas Ray and Alfred Hitchcock).

Nouvelle vague6
Nouvelle vague


  • Claude Chabrol’s Le Beau Serge

  • François comes back to his home village after a decade to find that his village hasn’t changed but his friend, Serge has.

Nouvelle vague7
Nouvelle vague


  • François Truffaut’s Quatre cent coups (Four Hundred Blows)

  • Semi-autobiographical film about a boy who is neglected and misunderstood by his parents and teachers, skipping school, stealing a typewriter and being sent to institution

Nouvelle vague8
Nouvelle vague


  • By this time, those young filmmakers had become a force to reckon with.

  • Jacques Rivette’s Paris, nous appartient (Paris Belongs to Us)

Nouvelle vague9
Nouvelle vague

  • Jean-Luc Godard’s A Bout de souffle (Breathless)

  • A small-time thief, Michel Poiccart steals a car and murders a policeman. In the end, he is betrayed by his ambiguous girl Friend, Patricia.

Nouvelle vague10
Nouvelle vague

  • Claude Chabrol’s Les Cousins

  • Charles comes to Paris to share an apartment with his decadent cousin, Paul. He falls love with Paul’s friend, Florence. Paul does not care much about a serious relationship.

Contribution to film realism
Contribution to Film Realism


    - the lack of tight narrative structure

    - ignoring technical conventions

    - the heavy reliance on improvisation

Contribution to film realism1
Contribution to Film Realism

  • CASUALNESS → to give nouvelle vague films a great sense of presence = a significant instance of reality effects.

  • Reality looks more casual than well-structured.

  • The sense of presence similar to the one found in a TV film shot on live or a documentary film

Contribution to film realism2
Contribution to Film Realism

  • Hans Holbein Portrait of a Gentleman

  • Edouard Manet, The Balcony

Contribution to film realism3
Contribution to Film Realism

  • Auguste Renoir, Dance at the Moulin de la galette

Contribution to film realism4
Contribution to Film Realism

  • Camille Pissaro, Boulevard des Italiens

Contibution to film realism
Contibution to Film Realism

A) The lack of narrative structure: Truer to actual situations

Unclear narrative goal - e.g. the protagonists drift aimlessly, start actions on the spur of the moment (Chabrol's Les Cousins, Rivette’s Paris, nous appartient)

Contribution to film realism5
Contribution to Film Realism

  • Constant detours and digressions from the main gangster film narrative (Truffaut's Tirez sur le pianiste, Shootthe Piano Player, 1960)

Contribution to film realism6
Contribution to Film Realism

b) Unconventional mise-en-scène

Location shooting and opposition to studio filmmaking: the influence of Neorealist filmmakers (Rivette's Paris Belongs to Us and almost all other Nouvelle vague films)

Contribution to film realism7
Contribution to Film Realism

  • Studio lighting was replaced by available light and some auxiliary sources. Filming without artificial lighting was made possible by the availability of fast film stock.

  • e.g. Quatre cents coups

Contribution to film realism8
Contribution to Film Realism

  • Frequent and agile camera movements - panning and tracking by a hand-held camera or a light camera.

  • Eclaire camera (mainly used in documentary film - direct cinema)

Contribution to film realism9
Contribution to Film Realism

  • The long tracking shot with a hand-held camera of Antoin Doinel in Quatre Cents Coups

  • Impressive stop-motion (formalis ending)

Contribution to film realism10
Contribution to Film Realism

  • Hand-held elcaire camera captures Patricia and Michel walking along Champs Elysée

  • Passer-bys gaze at them and walk in front of the camera.

Contribution to film realism11
Contribution to Film Realism

  • Claude Lelouche’s Un Homme et une femme (1966)

  • Images go occasionally out of focus or shot against light or the sun

Contribution to film realism12
Contribution to Film Realism

  • François Truffaut’s Jules et Jim (1960) - encyclopedia of film techniques (freeze frame, wipe, masking, swish pan, the insertion of newsreel footage and still photos, etc.)

  • Casual composition and out of focus photography shot by zoom lens.

Contribution to film realism13
Contribution to Film Realism

  • Significant influence on new American films in the 1960 and 70s

  • George Roy Hill’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

  • Casual filmmaking - images go out of focus

Contribution to film realism14
Contribution to Film Realism

  • Direct sound recording with noises not being erased

  • Eric Rohmer’s films

Realism or formalism
Realism or Formalism?

  • Nouvelle vague filmmakers - self-conscious filmmakers

  • No pretension that their films are disguised reality

  • They rather manifest that their films are ‘films’ - something artificially created and invented

Realism or formalism1
Realism or Formalism?

  • Films are created not only from imitating reality but also from referring to other films - a form of artifice

  • Films are not representations of reality but commentaries on the film and the process of filmmaking

Realism or formalism2
Realism or Formalism?

  • Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le feu

  • Samuel Fuller’s cameo appearance commenting on filmmaking.


Realism or formalism3
Realism or Formalism?

  • A film is made of quotations from other films.

  • A bout de souffle and Humphrey Bogart