Sunday, 13 July 2008

Cahiers du Cinéma and the French New Wave (essay)

Dave Kehr's commemorative essay from 2001 on the 50th anniversary of the magazine, Cahiers du Cinéma, explains how the French New Wave Cinema ( La Nouvelle Vague ) emerged from the young men who wrote for Cahiers du Cinéma: François Truffaut, Jacques Rivette, Claude Chabrol, and Jean-Luc Godard, etc. These "young turks" attempted to sift what they considered to be the wheat from the chaff as they re-appraised Hollywood and its directors such as Howard Hawks and Alfred Hitchcock whom they considered to be "auteurs". Kehr's essay reveals how Truffaut et. al. preferred some directors others because the directors appeared a-political. For instance, Wyler, Huston and Wilder fell out of favour because they were seen as "left-leaning". These last mentioned directors were championed by the French leftist cinema magazine, "Positif". Although "Cahiers . . ." itself later turned left in the late 60s and early 70s when its articles were written by theorists who focussed on post modernist philosophy and ideology. Kehr's discussion of "the young turks" ideas about mise- en-scene is worth reading just on its own. All in all, this is a must-read for students who are studying French New Wave Cinema and who need a contextual understanding of how this movement began and how it went on to shape modern film criticism.

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