What is French New Wave Cinema? Definition & Examples

French New Wave talkie was an art movement created in the 1950s. The idea was to make self-sustaining films outside of the Hollywood system.

The two main figures in this art movement were directors Francais Truffaut and Jean Luc Goddard. They had new ideas and made films that would transpiration talkie forever.

This movement is the most important for filmmakers considering it gave lineage to auteur theory and indie films. Below you can learn increasingly well-nigh this art movement including a list of french new wave directors and mucosa examples.

What is French New Wave Cinema? 

The French New Wave (La Nouvelle Vague) is a mucosa movement that started in the 1950s. The movement valued the director and aimed to requite them well-constructed tenancy over their films.

At the time mainstream talkie focused on easy to follow stories with a wide audience. In contrast, French New Wave films told personal stories, shot handheld and documentary style.

The movement gained popularity worldwide and influenced many filmmakers then and today. Without French new wave films, there would be no modern self-sustaining cinema.

How Did the Movement Start?

In the 1950s, Cahiers du Cinema was one of the most influential filmmaking magazines. Working for them was a young writer and director tabbed Francois Truffaut. One of the famous wares he wrote challenged Hollywood and tabbed their work dull. 

His ideas began a new art movement and the auteur theory, which created the idea that the director should have full creative tenancy over a film. As a result of this new idea, Truffaut and other writers began to uncontrived films.

The films they made were indie, had low budgets and used natural lighting. In time this movement was tabbed French New Wave Cinema

French New Wave Techniques

There are 3 main areas that pinpoint a typical french new wave film. These are the following:

1. Budget

The main part of French new wave talkie is that it rejects the studio system. These films were independently made on shoestring budgets. They were shot on location, making use of natural lighting and sound. Also, it’s typical to see friends of the director making up some of the tint a crew.

2. Script

Hollywood films focus on strong storytelling that aims to entertain a large audience. The scripts of the French new wave were increasingly challenging. They featured real life problems and explored ramified ideas.

Essentially they wanted their regulars to think when watching.

3. Camera

The film’s moreover had low budgets, which inspired new camera methods. Most notably, the filmmakers used jump cuts and long takes. They moreover made use of doc style and handheld.

Their techniques were practical and gave the movement its unique look.

French New Wave Directors

Francais Truffaut

Francois Truffaut - french new wave director

Truffaut was the founder of the French new wave and directed many films within this style. Whilst working as a mucosa writer, he grew tired of the influence of Hollywood cinema.

As a result, he devised the auteur theory, which gained popularity in the 1960s. He is most known for the pursuit French new wave films.

  • The 400 Blows (1959)
  • Shoot the Piano Player (1960)
  • Jules & Jim (1962)

Jean Luc Goddard

Jean Luc Goddard - french new wave director

Goddard worked at Cahiers du Cinema alongside Truffaut. He questioned mucosa quality and believed films were rhadamanthine less creative. So he and other writers began to make films pursuit the new wave techniques.

Notable French new wave films by Goddard are the following.

  • Breathless (1960)
  • The Little Soldier (1963)
  • My Life To Live (1962)

Agnes Varda  

Agnes Varda  

Varda found inspiration from the French new wave directors. However, she is not one of the original new wave directors. Considering of this, Varda and other new wave filmmakers go by the name Left Bank Cinema

Her films use real people, doc style, shooting on location and natural lighting. She is most known for the pursuit films.

Famous French New Wave Films

The 400 Blows

The 400 Blows

Truffaut’s first new wave mucosa was a huge success, and he won the weightier director at Canne. The mucosa is a tightly personal coming of age mucosa that follows the life of a 13 year old boy. It features many of the themes of new wave, such as long takes, jump cuts and freeze frames.

One important speciality of the mucosa is the camera movement. Unlike filmmakers of the time, the camera acts as a documentary film camera. It follows the actors virtually real locations instead of stuff on a tripod. The use of a freeze frame and 4th wall adds to this effect.



Goddard joined his co-worker Truffaut to make flipside full-length based on new wave ideals. The mucosa follows the life of a petty thief in 1960s Paris. Similar to 400 blows it makes use of long takes, real life locations and jump cuts. It moreover uses tracking shots to follow the lead actors virtually the scenes.

What stands out well-nigh Goddard’s mucosa is that it uses the camera to move between spaces rather than the film’s plot. Like all new wave films, it breaks the rules of Hollywood polished cinema.

Cleo from 5-7

Cleo from 5-7

Varda was not a trained filmmaker or writer. Instead, she came from a photography preliminaries which you can see in her stylish camera work. In this film, we follow two hours in the life of Cleo, a young pop star waiting to find out if she has cancer.

The mucosa uses tracking shots, a handheld camera and freeze frames. Like the other new wave films, it is shot in Paris using natural light and long takes. In 2019, a BBC worldwide poll awarded Cleo from 9 to 7 as the second greatest mucosa made by a sexuality director.

How the Movement Changed Cinema

Although the French new wave took place 50 years ago, the movement hugely impacted cinema. Before, if you wanted to make a film, you would need a upper upkeep and a studio to help you. However, French new wave directors showed how it’s possible to make a successful mucosa without a studio.

In many ways, the filmmakers were superiority of their time. Since then, many modern films, commercials and art have all found influence from the French new wave. This influence includes famous directors such as Stanley Kubrick, Stephen Spielberg and Wes Anderson.

Conclusion – French New Wave Cinema

To sum up, the French New Wave talkie paved the way for all indie filmmakers. Before, filmmakers would struggle to make films without a studio. However, the movement proved that you could make a successful mucosa without a large budget.

Also, using techniques like jump cuts, handheld and documentary styles the French New Wave removed the rules and expectations that Hollywood placed on cinema.

Lastly, it meant you could make a mucosa without a big story. At the time, Hollywood ruled the talkie and aimed toward a large audience. Whereas new wave filmmakers told small stories that focused on real life.

You can still find the influence of the new wave in talkie today. Without it, there would be no low-budget full-length films.

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