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The French New Wave was a film movement from the 1950s and 60s and one of the most influential in cinema history. French New Wave films are highly self-aware and challenged the mainstream approach to filmmaking. They’re often characterized by improvised dialogue, jump cuts, long takes, and handheld camerawork. Let’s take a tour of some of the films and filmmakers that made the French New Wave so exciting, including their revolutionary techniques that changed how films were shot and edited ever after.

French New Wave Films

How critics became directors

A group of French critics, who wrote for the journal, Cahiers du Cinema, believed films were not accurately expressing human pain, thought, and emotion in a real way. They felt it was dry and out of step with reality, and what everyday people were feeling.

There were quite a few notable French film directors who supported the movement, including Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer, Jacques Rivette, Louis Malle, Alain Resnais, Agnes Varda, and Jacques Demy. 

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French New Wave Films

French New Wave films emerged out of a hungry post-war France. Salivating for culture and left only with mainstream media that felt trite and contrived, French critics and film lovers began experimenting with different filmmaking. 

François Truffaut

The 400 Blows (1959)

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Elevator to the Gallows trailer

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New Wave influences: Film Noir

If you’re interested in French New Wave cinema, you need to know where their style comes from and the first place to start is film noir. French New Wave filmmakers like Truffaut and Godard took genres and styles like American film noir and created an entirely new language. In this post, we'll cover some classic examples of film noir and you'll see for yourself where the influence comes from. 

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