I was overjoyed yesterday when I saw in the Apr 7 issue of the New Yorker an extensive history/discussion of the impact of the friendship of Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, two of the most important filmmakers of the last decade. Godard and Truffaut revolutionized French filmmaking and, I believe, had a big hand in legitimizing film studies as a discrete discipline when they founded the seminal film journal Cahiers du Cinema with other New Wave filmmakers Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer.
I thought today would be a good today to let everyone know which films I most love from the French New Wave. I was lucky enough to have a whole class on the movement in college (coupled with Italian Neo-Realism) and was really inspired by the work they did:
François Truffaut’s Jules et Jim
Agnes Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7
Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima, Mon Amour
The Varda film is probably my favorite.
It tells the story of Cleo, a hip French pop singer, as she waits out the final two hours before she learns the results of a serious medical test. Beginning with a portentious tarot card reading and ending with a full life transformation, the film is a gorgeous, moving, and deeply emotional exploration of ninety minutes in a person’s life. The film was an early experiment in real-time filmmaking, where film time elapses in tandem with real-world time, and it plays out beautifully.