Manual Cahiers du Cinema: The 1950s. Neo-Realism, Hollywood, New Wave

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Later translated by Andrew Sarris, this term was renamed Auteur Theory in This is a shift from the previous mentality, where the artistic focus was placed on the screenwriter. Within the commercial apparatus of filmmaking, filmmakers should wield their camera-pens to imprint their personal impression on the film.

The Cahiers writers praised the directors who worked in pursuit of this goal. In , Truffaut and Rivette interviewed Howard Hawks. Simultaneously with the shooting, if possible. The group also began to establish their own visual aesthetic. Mimicking their films of preference, this included a preference for a long shot for a scene as opposed to over-editing with constant cuts.

In , Claude Chabrol released his film Le Beau Serge , a Hitchcock-influenced drama, which became known as the first film of the nouvelle vague, and was met with critical success. However, a number of the other Cahiers directors also had films in the works at this point, and it would be with the feature debuts of Truffaut and Godard that the movement would gain attention and momentum. At the time the Cahiers critics began experimenting with their own films, there were institutional and technical changes that impacted the movement.

During the late s and early s, much of this funding was allocated to French mainstream cinema with established directors and producers. However, when the market for mainstream cinema began to decline more funds began to be allocated smaller productions, as well as awards for completed films. In , Truffaut made a short film called Les Mistons , in which a group of young boys spy on a young woman, annoying her and her boyfriend. After its completion, Truffaut receive a financial reward, which he reinvested in his next project, which would be his first feature.

In , Morris Engel and his wife wrote and directed the film Little Fugitive which told the story of a young child spending the day alone at Coney Island. Filmed on location, the film utilized a spontaneous production style, in which a concealed strap-on camera allowed the filmmakers to record without the knowledge of surrounding pedestrians. This was very influential to Truffaut, who was busy formulating his first feature-length film, The Blows.

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The day after shooting commenced on the film, Bazin died of leukemia at age While some of the film is based on his own life, Truffaut also borrowed moments from a few of his favorite films. There is one scene in which a line of schoolboys goes jogging through Paris. One by one, the boys sneak away from the group to go play elsewhere in the city.

French New Wave: The Influencing of the Influencers

In an article on first person plural, Cahiers critic Fereydoun Hoveyda applauded the film, saying:. Unafraid to mix genres, Truffaut begins in the usual narrative vein, then, without warning, moves into reportage, goes back to what appears to be the story and on to a portrait of manners, with a bit of comedy and tragedy inserted here and there. The Blows went on to win the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival that year, which was the festivals second-most prestigious award at the time.

This win is humorous in the sense that Truffaut had been the one critic banned from the Festival one-year prior. After seeing this film, Godard felt it was time to make his first feature film. Co-written with Truffaut, Breathless featured actors Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg and offered a bold visual style and innovative techniques. Between breaking the eye-line match rule, he also utilized the use of jump cuts, both of which are violate classical continuity editing, which ends up being a way of breaking down the appearance of continuous time and space.

One example of his use of jump cut is when the two main characters are riding around in a convertible. In one shot, Jean Seberg is sitting in the passenger seat with her hands on her legs, and then in the next cut she is shown from the same angle but now holding a mirror. There is an abrupt feeling of lost time, which moves away from the classical sense of seamlessness. It is important to note that Godard was not the first filmmaker to make use of the jump cut.

However, Godard was the first contemporary filmmaker to utilize this technique in a narrative film, working against what he saw as the flawed classical style of then French cinema. Breathless also contains a number of cinematic references, as Godard calls attention to the medium he loves.

Later in the film, Michel and Patricia attend a screening of the film Westbound , once again drawing attention to films within the film. Godard even pays tribute to Cahiers , as Michel passes by a woman selling copies of the publication on the street.

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Truffaut maintained more of a classical style working with scripts, while Godard somewhat abandoned scripts, giving lines to his actors on scraps of paper. In this sense, Godard had more in common with Rivette, who was also very experimental in his filmmaking. In June of , Eric Rohmer saw his position at Cahiers eliminated by his contemporaries, as the magazine began to move in a less-conservative, radical left-wing direction, against his desires to avoid overt politics. At this point, he began focusing his full energy on his filmmaking.

What would follow would be a series of films he deemed as his Six Moral Tales Contes moraux. Catherine M.

Cahiers du Cinéma, The 1950s

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Sign in to use this feature. This article has no associated abstract. Cinema in Aesthetics categorize this paper. Applied ethics. History of Western Philosophy. Its starting point is an appreciation largely composed of taste and sensibility: it has to discern the contribution of the artist as such, quite apart from the qualities of the subject or the technique. But once one has made the distinction, this kind of criticism is doomed to beg the question, for it assumes at the start of its analysis that the film is automatically good as it has been made by an auteur.

This is all right so long as there has been no mistake about promoting this film maker to the status of auteur. No American critic of the auteur theory has even been as articulate in describing its shortcomings as Bazin, under whose influence it came into being. Bazin noted that a true auteurist would automatically find a second-rate film by an auteur to be superior to a first-rate film by a non-auteur, which he thought to be nonsense.

He also found something paradoxical about the auteurists' admiration for the American cinema ''where the restrictions of production are heavier than anywhere else.

A lot of the material contained in the early Cahiers essays seems pretty funny today, including Truffaut's outrage at what he saw to be the ''pessimism'' and ''negative'' view of the world he found in the work of the writing team of Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost ''La Symphonie Pastorale,'' ''Le Diable au Corps,'' ''Gervaise,'' among others , the two screenwriters most closely associated with ''the tradition of quality. Few of Truffaut's films could be called ''optimistic'' in any conventional sense. Think of the endings of ''The Blows,'' with Antoine Doinel trapped by the side of the sea in a freeze frame, of ''Jules and Jim,'' with Catherine driving herself and her lover off an unfinished bridge to their deaths, or of ''The Soft Skin,'' in which a wife walks into a crowded cafe and calmly blows her philandering husband away with a shotgun.

Like the films of Jean Renoir, a director whom he admired above all others, Truffaut's best films know that life is not easily understood, that the future is forever in doubt, but his characters, though aware of this, somehow retain their sanity and spirit and humor. It is significant that in the best of his Antoine Doinel films, ''Stolen Kisses,'' Christine Claude Jade elects to go off to a life of uncertainty with the feckless Antoine Jean-Pierre Leaud , rather than accept a proposal from a man who promises to love her faithfully, forever, and means it.


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It's true that, with the exception of the pieces by Pierre Kast, a Marxist, the writings of the Cahiers critics in the 's were never concerned with politics, which has, I think, led to their being labelled, incorrectly, politically conservative. In their reaction to the fashionably leftish, politically- and socially-oriented criticism of their day, and in insisting that style was content, they were attending to their ''art'' in a romantic manner designed further to outrage the film establishment.

They weren't conservative as much as they were apolitical. As Mr. Hillier points out in his introduction to ''Cahiers du Cinema,'' the rude writings of Mr. Rohmer, Mr. Godard, Mr.

Rivette, Truffaut and the others ''raised crucial questions, however unsystematically, about the status and criticism appropriate to film as an art form in which unsystematic divisions were constantly being made toward art and commerce. It is particularly significant that when these critics came to make their own films, they did not make American films, or even films that many Americans understood.

Ulmer, but the films themselves remain wildly original, comic meditations on his own concerns with art and politics. By their example, the Cahiers critics brought a new boldness to American film criticism, which still remains largely ''impressionistic,'' though now it's far better informed, far more open to experimentation. The auteur theory today is no more a theory than it was when Truffaut wrote his ''Une Certaine Tendance. Hillier quotes the critic John Caughie as saying, ''more clearly a critical practice than a theory. Nevertheless, it has served a valuable purpose by calling attention at least to the possibility that one person can be the ''auteur'' of a film, though in American commercial films this person is as likely to be the star - a Robert Redford, a Barbra Streisand even when she doesn't direct herself , a Dustin Hoffman or whoever happens to be ''bankable'' at the moment - as the director.

The auteurists have helped give American directors a status they hadn't enjoyed before, but it's ridiculous to suggest, as it often is in Hollywood, that American directors have abused that status or, at least, that they have begun to believe their own publicity to the detriment of the ''industry.