Thursday, 8 March 2012

Influences & Impact On Contemporary Films

In 1950’s, a group of young directors brought out a new cinema movement named French New Wave (Nouvelle Vague) which was influenced by the Italian Neorealist. Besides directing the films, the directors also play a role as the author. They used film as a medium to express their thinking, feeling, and critic things that happened around them. From that time on, French New Wave had become a mainstream film movement in 1960’s and it brings influences to the film makers until today. The influences of French New Wave to the film industry are wide driven by the famous directors such as François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Rivette and Eric Rohmer. Nowadays, there are many Film makers inspired by them and adopt the characteristics of the movement into their film.

The filmmakers from America New Wave (1967-1980), - also known as New Hollywood movement, was greatly influenced by French New Wave. During the period of 'Old Hollywood', there was lack of money in producing films. Thus, directors produce films within low budget that eventually lead to some similar characteristics with French New Wave movement. For example, shooting on location was taken in consideration as this method was cheaper than shooting in studio. This will help to strengthen the realism of the film and indirectly grab the attention of the audiences. Other than that, the advancement in film technology give them a chance to shoot with 35 mm camera, for example, Panavision Panaflew camera introduced in 1972 which can be used by handheld whereby this method also found in New Wave movement. This helped to gain good visuals and made their work became easier. The French Connection in 1971 which is a crime film that directed by William Friedkin. Friedkin has employ handheld camera work, rough and improvisational style of shooting which then make the film come alive. Also, New York City has been choosing as the real main location shooting. Others examples of New Hollywood’s films are The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974) and American Gigolo (Paul Schrader, 1980).

 The influences of French New Wave are reached until 1980’s. During this period of time, there are some pioneer of filmmaking has produced film which has nicely echoes of French New Wave movement. Examples of film that had been produced are La Bande des quatre in 1988 by Jacques Rivette and Un étrange voyage in 1981by Alain Cavalier. They are well known in produced New Wave movement of film especially, Jasques Rivette. He starts his film journey since 1961. In the La Bande des quatre (1988), Jacques Rivette intentionally creates more mystery than it can account for, leaving a buzzing sensation of forces outside of our understanding, operating in modes beyond our comprehension. Another film produced by Jacques Rivette is Marry go round in1981. This film was captures an unexplainable level of cinematic truth in the realm of something that is completely untruthful. Perhaps it’s hard to understand just how fascinating it is to watch something so bizarre unfold in the utmost convincing way. The narrative seems to roam in every which direction with multiple events going on nearly all the time. This kind of narrative used in producing films showed that the film makers are still influenced by the New Wave movement in films making.

French new wave is then widespread until 1990s. Quentin Tarantino, a famous postmodern director that often been criticized for stealing or copying from other directors film. Tarantino claim that although he had a heavily inspired in plot and style but he had created a unique style that is all his own, combining styles from his favorite genres into brand new mash-ups, making his own authorship.

Obviously, he had influenced by French new wave movement and later he had implied the style in the movie, Reservoir Dogs in 1992, which is a popular independent crime film of the decade. We can found out some French new wave’s echoes in this movie.  As evidences, it is a low budget film as many of the actors have to use their own costume as their character’s wardrobe. The film is a non- linear storyline as we can see break of pieces of the past and present of the story, An example, the heist story unfold as they're intercut with Freddy’s back story as to how he managed to get involved with Cabbot’s gang and his overall plan to capture them. The style of the storyline has created tension and interest of the audience. People know what is happened yet just don’t know how. Other than that, the setting in the opening sequence in the movie is a restaurant where the characters are seated eating breakfast. This has show that the implication of the French new wave movement because Tarantino choose to use a real or natural location as shooting location so that it looks usual and nature. Also, the conversations of the character are informal, which sound not scripted yet are more rambunctious and jovial dialogue. The ways they talk are reflecting their background of the characters. Additionally, monologue is used in the film as well, for an example, the wise old veterans like Edward Bunker, gets the film firmly started with his virtuoso monologue about the real meaning of LIKE A VIRGIN.

Tarantino film style seem is simply a rehash of what went before, nevertheless  Reservoir Dogs was given the Critic's Award at the 4th Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival in 1993 and was voted "Best Independent Film Ever" by Empire Magazine and even was voted "Most Influential Movie of the past 15 years" by movie magazine.  Although it is not the best films of the decade but it deserve as an honorable, remarkable film which should not be diminished and most significant filmmaking of Tarantino in the early 90s. The staple elements which contain in the film is then become an authorship of Tarantino. Another good example will be shown in his masterpiece which is Pulp Fiction.

Pulp Fiction is an American crime film portrays after Reservoir Dogs in 1994 which is another film of Tarantino’s work owes much to the New wave. The echoes of the movement apparently can be found in the film. For examples, the film is out of sequence, which is Tarantino‘s trademark of non-linear storytelling. Each storyline seem focuses on different series of incident yet they are interrelated and connect in various way.  The opening scene of the film is shooting in the diner where the “pumpkin” and “honey bunny” are having their breakfast and planning to rob the diner. In the entire film, the characters are talk in a casual way and most of the time we can found out the vulgarity words in the movie. A long tracking shot technique is used in the film, for instance, camera moving by followed Vincent in the theme restaurant. Besides that, jump out occur when Mr. Wolf walking to his car direction.  These are the evidences showing that Tarantino is still implying some of the new wave movement and innovate it become a brand new film.

With his well done job, this film has received a lot of awards such as “Best film award in National Society of Film Critics”, “Best Screenplay in Golden Globe Awards” and etc. Again, this film has raised his reputation in the film industry and indubitably became the most imitated screenwriter of the last decade. After Reservoir dogs and especially after Pulp Fiction, there are more young directors’ attempts to duplicate his films.  Others movie of Tarantino that heavily influenced by French new wave movement are Jackie Brown (1997), Kill Bill (2003, 2004), Death Proof (2007), and Inglorious Basterds (2009).
            The effects of French New Wave are still clearly evident until today century. There is a multitude of new filmmakers influenced by the French New Wave. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind(2004) is a romance and sc- fi film that directed by Michel Gondry and written by Charlie Kauffman is nothing short of a Novella Vague film. Gondry has subtly controlled hand-held camerawork and invigorating jump cuts and inventive scene transitions in the movie. Besides that, a clear- cut example in the scene of the movie is when Kate winslet and Jim Carrey is kissing same goes to the Godard’s masterpiece- A bout de soufflé, when Jean- Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg is kissing. Gondry has also made a string of other films such as the extremely strange and interesting, such as Science of Sleep (2006). It is a whimsical, loosely structured romantic fantasy film. it is obvious to see the influence of the new wave movement in the film, Gondry, again use hand held camera technique in the first 15minutes  Gondry also stages multiple scenes in hallways, near doorways, and on stairways, all of which seem to pay homage to, Francois Truffaut and his first film, The 400 Blows.

Marc Forster is another director who also influenced by the French New Wave movement. Stay(2005) which is a psychological thriller film in American. This film is fits to the criteria for the new wave movement. The main character is an anti- hero. Forster directed this film in artistic style which including vertigo and revolves around the dream, depression, death and false realities.

Other than that, there are still few examples of directors who influenced by the French New Wave movement in this modern cinema, such as Madame Bovary (1991) and La Ceremonie (1996),directed by Claude Chabrol, The Prisons(1994), directed by Jacques Rivette, Rendezvoux in Paris(1995), Summer's Tale, A(1996), directed by Eric Rohmer, Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevitch, A(2000), Case of the Grinning Cat, The(2004), directed by Chris Marker and Libera me(1993), Filmman(2005), which is directed by Alain Cavalier. It is truth to say that French New Wave movement is successful remains intact and become a technique for the mainstream to practice.

It is also a diversion of French New Wave echoes can be found in other movement. In Denmark 1995, a clearly evident that show influenced by French new wave was Dogme95, which is created by Lars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg, then later joined by Soren Kragh-Jackobson and Kristian Levering. Dogme 95 is like a “rescue movement”, which wants to rescue from the predictable plot. It used radical and usual technique to do the filmmaking and excluding use of the special and flourish special effects technology. This movement have the similarity rules with the New Wave movement which are filming must be done on the location, extra props and sets need not to brought in, camera must be handheld, no special lighting is added in, no superficial action such as weapons or murders, and the film must take place in the present day and in the country for filming.

The first Dogme film is Festen which also known as “The Celebration". It is a simple and naturalistic performance of film.  In this film, Vinterberg use natural lighting and handheld camera which had blown up to 35mm to shoot the content of the story. It then created disorientating images as disturbing the content of the story. The aesthetic of the film is similar to the French New Wave which used hand help camera extensively without extra technical considerations.  Festen won a lot of awards and it has become a significant film of Vinterberg.

The second film of the Dogme group is “The Idiots” by Lars von Trier, however he had directed and famous for Breaking the Waves in 1996, with a inspired way where the actors are free to move anywhere in the shooting location as the camera will follow them moving around.  There are still lists of number of dogme 95 film, it has shows that the filmmakers often used the limitation placed as their inspiration for filmmaking.

Incidentally, that there were other national 'New Waves' - including that in Hong Kong bear the obvious influenced by the French New Wave, like Wong- Kar Wai’s film – Chungking Express in 1994. He created the cinematography style which is influence by the New Wave movement. He included the handheld camera in most of the time in film because most of the shots are action or chasing scene. It shows blurred and distract to the audience, creating the effect like someone with no experience on camera work. Indirectly, he wan to increase the reality of the everyday life appears in the film.

It is clear that the French New Wave influence is still alive and spread well today. French New Wave brings out the messages that it is not necessary to have big lights, experienced actors, enormous budgets, flourished of technique and movie sets. The postmodern filmmakings have resurgence the New Wave ideas and create new blood for the modern cinema. This is little shaking up is exactly the need of the film industry for the profit given.


  1. Very thorough explanation of the film movement and directors as well as films. However, I think that it is somehow very hard for some of us to understand its influence without any exact detailed example from the listed films. So perhaps it would be better to take specifics scene which consist of a clear evident of the film movement characteristics and elaborate it as how it was done in tutorials when Mr. Joe explained. This will give better visuals and explanation of the influence on contemporary films.

  2. An in-depth explanation of the influences and impacts of this movement. However, you may want to correct your font size. And, I believe the insertion of visual aids could help us more on understanding your analysis. Maybe you can include some screen shots, pictures or videos to support each analysis on the specific film on specific scenes. I think it would be better if you could analyze on the contemporary films you suggested to us instead of focusing on the late 90s film like Reservoir Dogs (1992) etc. And maybe you could re-organize your points with some relevant examples from the film itself. It's good to have more information but then, organization and structure make up the matter as well where you want your readers to read comfortably.

  3. Perhaps you can insert some visual aids such as graphics or short clips to give a better understanding towards your topic. Maybe you can improve your font size by making them same and easy to read. It is advisable to give some explanation by giving more examples shots and scenes in the films.

  4. You have done an extensive research on the impact of French New Wave on contemporary films. Nice post!

  5. A very detailed explanation about the influences & impact of French New waves on contemporary films.
    Please standardized the font to make it looks neat and tidy.
    A little suggestion on changing the background and font colour to a better reading layout. It is hard to continue reading after a period of time as the colour of the words and background have a strong contrast which creates glare effect.
    Overall, you did a good job on explaining French New Wave.

  6. - Language issue
    - You need to add in-text citations.
    - You should elaborate and be more detailed in your discussion. Also, perhaps, you should also discuss how the influences exist in contemporary cinema. Select specific scenes and perhaps used screen grabs to further demonstrate how the influences exit in these films.
    - Good attempt in your discussion of the influences. Well researched.