2 New Wave

New Wave Cinema is traditionally associated with group of young French critics/directors who came to prominence during the late 1950s.  Including François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, and Alain Renais, these filmmakers believed that what a movie says is inextricably bound up with how it is said and made films with intellectual as well as artistic interests. Since then the term has been used to define a diverse range of emerging, non-traditional cinemas–including the Italian New Wave, the German New Wave, Hong-Kong New Wave, Iranian New wave…  Research on this subject should consider the situation within which the historical New Wave emerged as a context within which to study the work of its main participants or subsequent generations. Film examples: Breathless400 BlowsCleo from 5 – 7Hiroshima Mon Amour


  • Jack C. Ellis and Virginia Wright Wexman, “Film of the Auteurs: The French New Wave and After, 1954” in A History of Film, 5th ed. Gonsont: Allyn and Bacon, 2002.
  • Richard Neupert, “The New Wave’s American Reception,” Cinema Journal 49. No. 4, (Summer 2010)
  • Charles T. Samuels, “Cinema in the Sixties,” American Libraries, Vol. 2. No. 5 (May, 1971)
  • Genevieve Sellier, “French New Wave Cinema and the Legacy of Male Libertinage”, Cinema Journal 49. No. 4, (Summer 2010)

On-line Materials + PDFs

New Wave wikipedia

Ellis + Wexman_Films of the Auteurs-French New Wave and After

Neupert, Richard, The New Wave’s American Reception

Charles T. Samuels_Cinema in the Sixties

Sellier, Genevieve_French New Wave Cinema and the Legacy of Male Libertinage

Discussion Prompts:

  • New Wave cinema is celebrated for its formal innovativeness and the social relevance in its stories.  But the self-reflexivity of form and topicality  of the film narrative does not automatically ensure the political relevance of New Wave film.  With reference to key New Wave films, discuss whether or not and how these films engage  or advance political ideas.
  • Though the themes and formal innovations of the New Wave cinema were considered fresh by the standards of the day, with the nature of the social and sexual relationships enjoyed by these films’ protagonists more open and liberal than those portrayed by an earlier generation,  it should be asked whether both male and female protagonists enjoyed the same freedoms.  Though ‘women’s emancipation’ was becoming a key social issue, it was met with mixed responses, welcomed and feared in equal measure.  Given that most of the New Wave filmmakers were men, it would seem likely that this ambivalence towards women’s freedom in sexual and cultural expression might be registered in their films.   Discuss the ways in which women’s and men’s social roles, relations and ambitions were represented in New Wave cinema.
  • Considering the various, subsequent ‘other’ New Wave movements (Iranian, Hong-Kong, Taiwanese, etc.), we see thematic and stylistic departures from traditional approaches to cinematic storytelling, approaches that have heretofore incorporated generic and narrative elements from culturally specific traditions and demonstrated cinematic styles typical of National production contexts. To what extent and to what effect do these New Wave movements depart from traditional narrative, generic and stylistic traditions?