French Cinema

L’ image et le mot…

À Bout de Souffle (Breathless) – 1959


 “With Sergei Eisenstein`s Battleship Potemkin (1925) the most celebrated film ever made, and probably the more influential of the two, Jean-Luc Godard`s A bout de souffle–literally, “out of breath”; in the States, irrelevantly called Breathless-helped establish and define, for themselves and others, the nouvelle vague-the ripping movement that stormed French cinema, overthrowing the reigning ‘Tradition of Quality’ and its academic, refined, meticulously crafted objets d`art. The movement denoted freedom: freedom from the constraints of conventional, worked-through and tied-up narrative; freedom of personal expression; the freedom of roving and penetrating inquiry-and formally encompassing all these, a freedom of camera motion scarcely seen since Dziga Vertov took to the streets in the ‘20s to record the pulsating synergy of Soviet life.

These young upstarts drew inspiration from Renoir`s lifetime of personal expression, from Hollywood professionalism and (especially in screwball comedies, westerns and noirs) glints of anarchy, and from Rossellini`s use of camera-for instance, in Germany, Year Zero (1947)-as character, even the main character, rather than as mere observer. Theirs was another French Revolution, sweeping out such “royalists” as Autant-Lara and Clément, who at the time were enthroned as arbiters of filmmaking form and taste.”


January 30, 2008 Posted by | Les Années '50 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trailer: Le Dernier métro (François Truffaut, 1980)



“In “The Last Metro”, François Truffaut studies artists struggling against the odds – the artists being a Parisian theatre company and the odds, the Nazis, two years into their occupation of Northern France.

Truffaut sets the scene by telling us that under the occupation, food and fuel are scarce, and people book to go to the theatre, months in advance, often just to keep warm.

When Lucas Steiner (Heinz Bennent), the Jewish owner of the Montparnasse Theatre, is forced into hiding from the Nazis, his gentile wife and lead actress Marion (Catherine Deneuve) takes over. She hires the womanising actor Bernard Granger (Gerard Depardieu) for the lead in their next production, the aptly titled play “Disappearance”, which is to be directed from Lucas’ own notes.

As the film examines the rehearsals and production of the play, against a backdrop of fear and anti-Semitic persecution, Marion’s frustration at the increasing emptiness of her marriage and the tenderness of her acting with Bernard draws her towards him…

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January 17, 2008 Posted by | L'Occupation au Cinéma, Les Années '80 | , , , , , | Leave a comment