La Nouvelle Vague - The French New Wave


La Nouvelle Vague when translated to english means The New Wave. Altough often referred as a movement, it was not meant to be so. La Nouvelle Vague characterizes a group of filmmakers between the years 1958 to 1964, in France. The main exponents of this group were François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Rivette and Eric Rohmer. All of them were film critics who actively contributed work to the renowned Cinema periodical Cahiers du Cinéma.

The reason La Nouvelle Vague is called The French New Wave and not just The New Wave is that by the sixties there were lots of "New Waves" across the world. La Nouvelle Vague was the most influencial and the one which suceeded most.


The roots from the French New Wave arise from the auteur theory. This theory, mainly developed by people such as André Bazin and Alexandre Astruc, stated that the directors were the ones which had real authority over the movie and that could be proven watching work from really big directors, like Alfred Hitchcock

Cahiers du Cinéma was founded by André Bazin, hence the young film-makers who used to commit articles to it were heavily influenced by his ideas.


One may say that, because La Nouvelle Vague was not a defined movement, there were not reasons.

Anyway, the reason which one may find and the one which played major role on French New Wave development was the saturation and over-production of almost content-void French movies, produced in a way very similar to Holywood-ones.

Thing were such way after World War II, French people were totally confused. They were part of the Reich, they contributed with that, but they were Allies, they were "freed" by them and they fighted the Nazis. People from France therefore wanted pretty cinema, cinema which showed good reality. They were indeed stunned with reality, they didn't need more of that.

Nouvelle Vague was all about fighting this prettiness. It was over! We did not need these fakes. No more hoaxes. Show people reality!

In what it consisted

Basically: cheap things. Sounds ironic? It was meant to be this way. The companies which supplied products for the filmmaking market beggined to work on portable, lighter, not so expensive products.

It was what the young auteurs needed for independent production. Together with natural locations/illumination, rough editing(with advents like jump cuts) and uncommon filming techniques, they have settled new standards, they have revolutioned way cinema was done.

The acting was all messed, actors were encouraged to improvise their lines. Also, the way things were producted was really mad. Even old cinema techniques like close-up were distorted, were put on a single way it showed a totally different point of view. More dramatic, more emotion on it. More real. All the factors above led the directors to a real auteur status.

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