New Wave

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Nouvelle Vague ( French for New Wave ) is a style of French cinema that went through two phases. The first, which received less attention, began as early as 1918 and was significantly influenced by Marcel L'Herbier . The Nouvelle Vague then continued in its more important phase in the late 1950s .

The beginnings

After the First World War, a rather inhomogeneous avant-garde scene formed in the silent film era, the most famous representatives of which were Abel Gance , René Clair and Jean Cocteau . The development was permanently interrupted by the Second World War. At the end of the 1950s, a movement emerged in France among young filmmakers and the pioneers of the first wave, which turned against the entrenched imagery and predictable narrative flow of established commercial cinema. They took up the ideas and ideas of the representatives of this first wave. Well -known directors of the Nouvelle Vague were previously authors of the Cahiers du cinéma . In their articles they took a stand against the cheapening and predictability of French quality cinema ( cinéma de qualité ) and primarily propagated films by directors such as Alfred Hitchcock , Jean Renoir and Roberto Rossellini .

In 1954, François Truffaut published the article A certain tendency in French cinema ( Une certaine tendance du cinéma français ). This text is considered the first theoretical basis of the Nouvelle Vague and is directed primarily against those screenwriters who uninspiredly adapt novels without having any connection to the cinema themselves. The demand: "Men of cinema" should make cinema and not let writers dictate what is filmable and what is not.


The founder of the Nouvelle Vague , François Truffaut, emphasized that his friend Jacques Rivette introduced the Nouvelle Vague with “Paris nous appartient” (“Paris belongs to us”). But it was Truffaut himself when he made his directorial debut with Les quatre cents coups (“Les quatre cents coups”) in 1959. A year earlier he was excluded as a film critic in Cannes because of his criticism, but he won the award for best director with his debut. The 13-year-old hero Antoine Doinel , played by Jean-Pierre Léaud , was Truffaut's alter ego. A year later, his then friend and comrade-in-arms Jean-Luc Godard made his debut Aus Atem ("À bout de souffle") , based on a script by Truffaut , and thus the Nouvelle Vague was established.

Over time, Godard became more experimental about viewing habits, incorporated written slogans, while Truffaut's experiments remained visual and narrative. What they had in common was the use of Jean-Pierre Léaud, who also played for Godard (including Masculin – Feminin or: The Children of Marx and Coca-Cola , Made in USA , The Chinese Woman , The Happy Science ). Truffaut was nimble in the narrative style, which is characterized above all by its hitherto unrivaled lightness, despite often difficult themes. While Claude Chabrol specialized in detective films and the dissection of the bourgeoisie and Godard in political agitprop, Truffaut's diversity of genres remained remarkable: his youth drama was followed by an experimental gangster film ( Shoot the Pianist ), by two contrasting love triangles ( Jules and Jim , The Sweet Skin ). ) and a science fiction film ( Fahrenheit 451 ), Truffaut made the poetic romantic comedy Geraubte Küsse , in which his alter ego Antoine Doinel chooses his childhood sweetheart Christine Darbon, played by Claude Jade . Truffaut continues to accompany the couple Antoine and Christine with the films Table and Bed and Love on the Run , a transition from experiment to romantic narration that remains visually and narratively experimental even in these works that combine cinematic art and entertainment.

In addition to the films by Truffaut and Godard, the works of Alain Resnais ( Hiroshima, mon amour ), Claude Chabrol ( Scream if you can ) and Louis Malle ( The Will-o'-the-Wisp ) are among the outstanding films of the Nouvelle Vague.

Politics of the authors

Based on the writings of Alexandre Astruc and led by André Bazin , the editor-in-chief and one of the founders of the Cahiers, they developed the authors' politics ( politique des auteurs ). This policy required the director to be involved in every step of the film's production in order to be able to develop his own personal style. With this characteristic handwriting of the director, the films should become more personal and individual and step out of the shadowy existence of literature. It is not the individual film of a director that is evaluated, but always his entire work. What counts is the author's relationship to his film, which is expressed in the way it is implemented. He differs from the director ( réalisateur ), who always only implements the story prescribed by the screenwriter. Author ( auteur ) is therefore whoever re- creates ( recréer ) what has been observed. In this respect, he can put his personal stamp on foreign material through processing and transcending. However, authors' politics should not be confused with auteur films in Germany. A translation with auteur theory is also wrong, since it omits the associated demands on the directors.

Michel Marie understands the Nouvelle Vague as an art school ( école artistique ). In this sense, the politics of the authors can be understood as an aesthetic program, according to which the author inscribes his worldview ( vision du monde ) in the film. The solid corpus of debut films that relate to a common program and are perceived as Nouvelle Vague also speaks in favor of speaking of a school. A firm group connection is promoted by the journalistic support of the film magazines ( Cahiers du cinéma ) and above all - Michel Marie expressly emphasizes this - there are common enemies: the authors of the Rive Gauche , gathered around the much more politicized film magazine Positif .

The initiators and forerunners of the Nouvelle Vague can be found in Italian neorealism , in documentaries by directors such as Jean Rouch and in American B movies .


The development of new, lighter cameras and more light-sensitive film material made it possible for filmmakers for the first time to shoot without artificial light and to work with handheld cameras outside of the film studio . The photography of the cameraman Raoul Coutard was formative for the visual aesthetics . The directors mainly engaged young, unknown actors and less the established film stars. Music played an important role in the films, as well as unusual narrative styles and new film techniques were characteristic, such as the editing technique of the jump cut ; in dialogue scenes, language and image montage often run asynchronously instead of the usual shot-countershot montage . The essay film was created .

The heyday of the Nouvelle Vague lasted until the mid- 1960s . The effects and storytelling techniques developed are still used today, including in commercial films and advertising.

Important directors


Rive Gauche and wider circle

Famous actors


Major Films

See also


  • Simon Frisch: The Myth of the Nouvelle Vague. How cinema was reinvented in France. Schüren, Marburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-89472-534-1 (dissertation at the University of Hildesheim, 2005).
  • Frieda Grafe : Only the cinema - 40 years with the Nouvelle Vague (= selected writings in individual volumes. 3rd volume). Brinkmann & Bose, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-922660-82-7 ; in this:
    • pp. 106–116: Twenty Years Later – What the Nouvelle Vague Was – After a Series at the Munich Film Museum . First publication in: Süddeutsche Zeitung from 17./18. January 1981.
    • pp. 168–173: When the Rooster Crows – The Nouvelle Vague in 2000 .
  • Norbert Grob and others (Ed.): Nouvelle Vague (= Genres & Styles 1). Bender, Mainz 2006, ISBN 3-936497-12-5 .
  • Michel Marie : La Nouvelle Vague. Une École Artistique (= Collection 128. 180 cinema ). Armand Colin, Paris 2005, ISBN 2-200-34168-7 .
  • James Monaco : The New Wave. Truffaut, Godard, Chabrol, Rohmer, Rivette. 30th anniversary edition. Harbor Electronic Publishing, New York et al. 2004, ISBN 0-9707039-5-3 .
  • Emilie Bickerton: A Brief History of the Cahiers du cinéma. diaphanes, Zurich 2010, ISBN 978-3-03734-126-1 .
  • Scarlett Winter and Susanne Schlueter (eds.): Body, aesthetics, play: On the cinematic écriture of the Nouvelle Vague . Fink, Munich 2004.

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