French New Wave


TwointheWaveEmmanuel Laurent’s Two in the Wave is an eye opening treat of behind-the-scenes introspection into the world of the French New Wave. The documentary follows a creative collaboration between Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard. It examines their first attempts at killing the “false myths” that were guiding an often archaic system of French Cinema as well as their inevitable separation over film perspectives in May of 1968, Godard going for highly radical films carrying political message and Truffaut staying loyal to his classical genre.

When we look at film now we can no longer perceive how much of what we find irreplaceable in its genre and stylistic perspective is the result of radical changes in the film industry beginning in late 1950’s with Truffaut’s “The 400 Blows” and Godard’s “Breathless.” To preserve their creative ideals and integrity, they were breaking the rules, performing a sort of artistic terrorism, blowing away the restrictions of stuffy academic Cannes, bringing a breath of fresh air, often deemed inexperienced by critics yet searching, creative and true. The Young Turks (Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer) were out to search for new ways of cinematic representation, the new cinema for the young based on seeking the truth in reality and depicting it in the most unobstructive way. I believe that this quote my Jean-Luc Godard summarizes the theory behind the New Wave movement and speaks for this documentary at large:

“Cinema is what brings art close to life. Painting or sculpture is art, because it’s clear things are not like this in life. It’s a transposition, an even if it imitates life, if it recreates life… Life, it’s the subway, the Galeries Lafayette, cars…Cinema brings both together, what we film is life and the camera is art. Or…or the opposite…”



I found “Two in the Wave” to be a great introductory guide into the vision of the masters of La Nouvelle Vague and a must-see before indulging in the films of that time period. I have recently purchased a wonderful book by Richard Neuperton on the French New Wave and hopefully it will guide me through a marathon of films I am planning to enjoy, including Godard’s Jules and Jim which I saw before and failed to understand to its full potential. 

Have you ever seen a French New Wave film? Did you like it?


Images courtesy of A Bout De Souffle (Breathless) and Two in the Wave.