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New Wave Cinema and Its Impact on Film Making

Jean-Luc Godard has been an inspiration for many filmmakers through decades. An independent filmmaker, Amartya Bhattacharya, made his new Odia film ‘Adieu Godard’ in the honour of his role model, Jean-Luc Godard.

Kulsoom Abid | New Delhi |

The era of New Wave Cinema came to an end with the passing away of one of its founding fathers, Jean-Luc Godard. Breathless, his 1951 film, laid the foundation of modern filmmaking techniques, which formally established a cinema movement called New Wave Cinema.

 

The New Wave Cinematic Revolution, also known as ‘Nouvelle Vague,’ was a film directorial revolution that originated in France during the late 1950s. The revolution was basically brought about by the filmmakers who challenged the traditional filmmaking culture as they knew it then.

Jean-Luc Godard has been an inspiration for many filmmakers through decades. An independent filmmaker, Amartya Bhattacharya, made his new Odia film ‘Adieu Godard’ in the honour of his role model, Jean-Luc Godard. A socio-cultural comic tribute to the legendary French filmmaker.

Amartya Bhattacharyya bid farewell to his favourite filmmaker with a heartfelt note shared on his Twitter account.

‘Adieu Godard’ is a satire about an Indian villager’s encounter with Godard’s film. The movie was released on 9th September.

During the 1950s, in the post-World War era, many social, economic, political, technological, and industrial reforms were taking place. After witnessing two disastrous wars and the loss of a million lives, the world was evolving into something new by breaking the old norms and revolting against society and stereotypes in every aspect, including the filmmaking industry.

Beginning of the New Wave in France

The New Wave Cinema was inspired by the French film critic, director, journalist, and novelist Alexandre Astruc‘s manifesto “The Birth of a New Avant-Garde: The Camera-Stylo” published in 1948. The manifesto promoted the concept of a “camera-pen”, which refers to the idea that directors must wield their cameras like writers use their pens.

 

The concept of Astruc’s manifesto was taken forward by the writers and film critics of the popular film magazine Cahiers du cinema in 1951 and began directing their own independent films.

Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless was the first movie that incorporated all the filmmaking rules established by the New Wave Cinema movement.

Techniques and Concepts of the New Wave Cinema still relevant

  • Themes and Depiction of Truth as They See It

The French New Wave revolutionists were passionate about filming and using techniques to create the most truthful and authentic portrayal of their stories as possible.

This point is where New Wave united with the Art Cinema Revolution in India.

India has been a diverse country that has been under British rule for 200 years. The nation has witnessed caste system, social, economic, educational, political and racial injustice for more than two centuries, hence realism in India began as early as in the 1920s.

 

The first example of a realistic film was a silent film by director Baburao Painter named Savkari Pash (1925), in which a poor peasant who lost his land to a greedy and unjust moneylender and was forced to migrate and work as a mill worker.

The unique selling point of Indian Art Cinema was the combination of literature and realism that were equally balanced in the movies. The prospect is still relevant and is carried forward with directors like Vishal Bharadwaj.

Example:Haider adapted from Shakespear’s Hamlet directed by Vishal Bharadwaj.

Shahid Kapoor’s ‘Main hoon ya main nahi’ portrays Hamlet’s ‘To be or not to be’ monologue.

  • Concept of Editing

The earlier the objective of editing was mainly to maintain continuity in the scenes and keep the picture moving at a consistent speed. Editing was supposed to be unnoticeable, but the cinematic revolutionists changed the concept entirely. They wanted the audience to become more aware of the techniques used in making a film.

Example: – The jump cuts in Godard’s Breathless.

Example: – The car chase scene in KGF Chapter 2 has been shot in ‘Play n Pause’ technique.

  • Breaking the Fourth Wall

The New Wave introduced something unique that the actors did not do before and that was breaking the fourth wall. They addressed the camera or did something to acknowledge the existence of the industry.

Example:  – Breaking the fourth wall in Godard’s Breathless.

 

Example: – Akshaye Khanna as Sanjaya Baru in The Accidental Prime Minister broke the fourth wall multiple times.

Example: – Marvel’s Deadpool breaking the fourth wall inside the fourth wall.

  • Camera- Stylo: Director as Creator

The French New Wave was built on and promoted a technique known as Camera-Stylo, which stated that a director should use their camera in the same way that a writer would use their pen. The concept implied that directors must have a pattern, unique signature or a different style in the films that can make the film their own.

Example: – Cameo of Subhash Ghai in Hero, Ram Lakhan and Taal.

 

Example: – Stan Lee’s cameo in The Incredible Hulk.

  • Camera Movement

Moving their cameras could swiftly change the space of surroundings within the film, transforming a confined space into an open one in a single shot, or vice versa. Over the Shoulder (OTS), Wide Angle shot, moving frames for chase scenes etc, were experimented during this era.

Example: – Director Rohit Shetty shooting action sequence.

 

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Example: – Over the Shoulder shot in Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa.

Example: – Wide Angle shot in Shree 420.

Example: – Dramatic close up shot of Amitabh Bachchan from Guru.

Example: – Camera Technique and Cinematography we began using during the New Wave

Example: – Camera Technique and Cinematography we use today.

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The Biggest Rule of New Wave Cinema is ‘No Rule’

To keep the creativity, experiments, and the ‘camera-pen’ style alive for the upcoming generations of directors, they set a ‘no-rule- rule where even they can break their own rules as the time may need.

This was done to ensure that the movement could always evolve and adapt, that it could always find a way to speak directly to an audience and challenge the status quo, and that it would be constantly relevant, important, and amazing by going beyond its own established techniques.