Le Novelle Vague (the new wave) look back
LE NOUVELLE VAGUE- THE NEW WAVE
A CINEMATIC RETROSPECTIVE
BY ANTONIO PINEDA
The passing of Eric Rohmer, at age 89, has magnified the importance and influence of the art movement entitled Nouvelle Vague. Post war France saw many contraversial changes on the artistic front. In the USA, Method Acting,based on the avatars Stanislavski and Michael Chekov,as pioneered by Stella Adler, Lee Strasberg,and Sanford Meisner was ressructuring the status quo in cinema. The Method created great actors of the American Golden Age of Cinema. Marlon Brando , , Marilyn Monroe, Susan Strasberg, Kim Hunter, as well as James Dean and Steve McQueen all were devotees of Method Acting as a philosophy. The post war NYC scene was a breeding ground for Method as personified by Paul Newman, who listened to the actor, then reacted,his lithe physique and penetrating blue eyes offered windows to another soul. Critics parodied Brando,who was portrayed as an inarticulate rebel and beatnik, his affectations of slurred dialogue and physicality ascribed to a new generation of film barbarians. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aforementioned cineastes, like the New Wave in Europe , were creating a new and vital art movement.
In Paris, intellectuals like Rohmer, Francois Truffaut, Jean- Luc Goddard, and Jaques Rivette began to conspire on the deconstruction and reinvention of cinema. Rohmer began this conspiracy as a critic with the Gazette du Cinema in 1949. The influential film journal,Cahiers du Cinema in the 1950s gave the nascent critics a platform for their ideas. It would take a decade for The New Wave to come to fruition. Breathless, directed by Godard, premiered in 1960. The filmed starred Jean Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg. Godard emloyed jump cuts,introduced hand held cameras,implemented edgy improvisation, and eschewed film sound tracks for naturalism, ie the sound of cars roaring, the wind rustling trees, or birdsong. Le Nouvelle Vague inspired a new generation of cineastes.
In Italy Fellini created,La Dolce Vita ,in 1960.Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren starred in this tale of existential decadence. The extraordinairy sound track by Nino Rota remains a classic.The intelligence, sophistication, and philosophy behind the film created a furore.Fellini and Antiononi were to create some of the greatest cinema of the era. The influence of The New Wave was gaining momentum.
Rohmer described his films as one of thoughts rather than action. Employing improvised dialogue, shot in a naturalistic manner, devoid of soundtracks , his films were compared to the ouevre of the 18th century dramatist Marivaux. His friend Barbet Schroeder set up a production company Les Films de Losange. Rohmer could work freely and retain artistic autonomy. The breakthrough came in 1966 with his film La Collectionneuse. His most popular works were Ma Nuit Chez Maud and Pauline a la Plage.
New Wave was to last for a decade, but its influence was to be pervasive. The Second Generation Nouvelle Vague generation of filmmakers in Germany like Fassbinder and Herzog were to continue the tradition. Godard was burnt out by the time he shot Sympathy For the Devil with the Rolling Stones. The impact made by Rohmer,Truffaut and others was to conspie to create new cinematic truths. Method Acting was a red blooded American enterprise that gave cinema a new voice and oversoul. New WAve was ironic, complex, often political and inventive explorations of morality.
New Wave borrowed freely from Sarte, Bunuel and Cocteau. The fusion of new ideas were significant in the connection to the 1960s, a time of social and political upheaval. Thy were at their best anti- establishment. The innovations attacked institutions like sex, religion and romance.The cinema produced by New Wave remains the antithesis of Hollywood popcorn movies. New Wave was created by mavericks and revolutionaries. It was a generational movement of young lions who believed their intellects could change the cinematic landscape. Long live Nouvelle Vague.
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