The Hound of Jean-Luc Godard: How World War II Helped Create the Nouvelle VagueApril 23, 2021
The Hunted (À bout de souffle / Breathless)
World War II helped to create the Nouvelle Vague French?
In an indirect way, yes, according to this video essay by Nerdwriter. Although The Hunted (Souffle's Bout in the original French and Breathless in English translation) Jean-Luc Godard was not technically the first film Nouvelle Vague, was its revolutionary character, and Godard's refined sense of how to work the promotional machine, which caused shock waves all over the world.
A few years later, many other countries would launch their own Nouvelle Vagues: Great Britain, Germany, Eastern Europe, Australia, Japan, Brazil, Iran, and the United States of America. Each "new wave" was characteristic of their own countries, but all sought to create an alternative to the dominant film culture, both Hollywood and the film industries of each country, influenced by Hollywood.
Such a decision did not arise in a vacuum, as the video seems to suggest. After the war, France owed $ 2 billion in debt. Former Interim Prime Minister and then Ambassador Leon Blum signed an agreement with US Secretary of State James F. Byrnes to cancel the debt and start a new line of credit. One of the provisions of the 1946 Blum-Byrnes agreement was the opening of France to the American cultural product, in particular to Hollywood films.
In French cinemas, four out of thirteen weeks would be dedicated to French films. The other nine were reserved for foreign films (that is, mostly American). But the exchange included a tax on cinema tickets, so the increase in audience helped to finance the French film industry itself.
Some results were obtained that were not foreseen. A young film-born generation was born, and its main publication was Cahiers du Cinema, the magazine edited by writer and theorist André Bazin.
The French could not claim a powerful industry like Hollywood, but they could point to the invention of films as we know them now (Georges Méliès and the Lumière brothers were French), and to treat film as an art form (by surrealists) , by Dadaists) before anyone else, and not just as entertainment.
The young critics who wrote for the Cahiers du Cinema certainly loved the influx of American films, which they devoured daily in a city like Paris, especially in Cinémathèque Française. Curated by Henri Langlois, this cinema / museum showed both new and old films, in such a way that those critics began to see the artist behind the entertainment.
The rise of Auteur Theory, coined by Andrew Sarris (1) from the Politique des Auteurs de Bazin, put the director at the center, not only of his own film, but demonstrated certain techniques and interests that went through all the films he made.
Although there was not much money circulating, there was still enough to make short films and those critics - Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer, and others - would begin to put into practice the theory they had elaborate.
after some shorts, Godard realized The Hunted, and the world has not been the same since then.
It was filmed with a handheld camera, by Raoul Cotard, who had used such a camera during the war for the news. To this end, they used the available light and the two actors, Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg, improvised around a script that Godard would write the night before.
Godard went around his brain from the inside out, as if he were emptying a bag on a table: all his cultural obsessions, not only in the cinema, but also by writers, philosophers, musicians, and more, appeared.
If Godard was going to be an author, then this was the way to do it. And yes, the edition jump-cut, as Nerdwriter points out, was shocking for the time. But it was also shocking to see the actors walking the real streets of Paris, as well as hearing two people talking (and talking and talking) just like they do in real life. Even though many of these scenes have become commonplace these days, when everyone has a film camera in their pocket, The Hunted still overflows with life.
Throughout the 1960s, Godard and his contemporaries would honor, surrender and separate themselves from Hollywood influences. The product domain Hollywoodesco it began to feel like a kind of imperialism, and America's involvement in Vietnam, in addition to its overwhelming influence on consumer culture, would lead to the events of 1968, and Godard's total rejection of Hollywood.
He would come to “kill” his masters, so to speak. But that was yet to happen. It still exists The Hunted, and 1960 continues to exist in Paris.
(1) The expression Auteur Theory was coined by Andrew Sarris and not by André Bazin, as stated in the original article.
This article was translated from the original in English by Copywriting Artes & contextos
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