Cinema du look (French for “cinema of the look”) is a French film movement that emerged in the mid-1980s.

Cinéma du look movement is a French term that refers to a style of filmmaking that is based on the visual and thematic elements of American Cinema.

The movement was created during the 1980s and showcased the talent of contemporary French directors, writers, and actors but also reflected their country’s fascination with American action movies and gangster flicks.

Cinéma Du Look Film Movement

What Is Cinéma Du Look Film Movement?

The Cinema du Look film movement is a French New Wave subgenre that was popular in the 1980s and 1990s.

It’s known for being highly stylized with an emphasis on visuals over plot.

The Cinema du Look was a group of filmmakers in the mid-80s who were united not only by their nationality (French) but by a shared aesthetic that favored pop culture over art, commercial viability over intellectualism, and action heroes over angst-ridden anti-heroes.

The movement was led by Luc Besson, Jean Jacques Beineix, and Leos Carax and is remembered for such films as Betty Blue, Subway, and The Big Blue.



What Is The Cinema Du Look Film Movement?

The first feature film to be labeled as Cinéma du look was Jean-Jacques Beineix’s 1981 film Diva.

This movie didn’t appeal to everyone, but it was Luc Besson’s 1983 science-fiction adventure flick Le Dernier Combat that popularized cinéma du look and established that it was a legitimate genre.

Divine Intervention (1994) by Gérard Krawczyk is considered to be the last major work of the genre.

After this point, the genre became overshadowed by other more popular movements, such as:

Currently, few movies are being produced under this movement.

However, there are still a few directors who continue to produce films of this style. Among these directors are:

  • Gaspar Noe
  • Claire Denis
  • Michel Gondry

The movement now centers on a group of young, relatively unknown filmmakers associated with the production company Héliotrope which is directed by producer Jean-Pierre Jeunet and his co-director Marc Caro.

The majority of their films share common traits: an emphasis on strong visual composition over character development, a darkly comic tone, and an overall whimsical feel.

The movement is often compared to the film noir genre, however, cinema du look has less in common with classical noir than it does with film adaptations of graphic novels such as Frank Miller’s Sin City or Alan Moore’s From Hell.

In fact, it is more like a constant reinterpretation of American pop culture from the French perspective.

Cinema du look also has many similarities to some Japanese anime movies of that time such as Akira, Ghost in the Shell, and even some French animated movies like Kirikou et la Sorcière.


Voices Of Cinema Du Look Film Movement

The cinema du look wanted to make their films a little less like Hollywood movies and more like documentaries produced without script or storyboard. They wanted stylistic shots that would convey realism and emotion in films, rather than just focusing on technical perfection.

This movement began with Luc Besson’s film “Subway”, which starred Isabelle Adjani, who is also featured in other cinema du look films such as “Razzia” and “Le Dernier Combat”.The films of this movement have strong political themes, particularly those made by Luc Besson and his production company Les Films du Dauphin.

These films often deal with issues such as police brutality and class struggles.

History Of Cinema Du Look Film Movement

The history of cinema du look film movement was very brief and lasted only a few years. The films that were made during this time are termed as art house films.

These films were mostly experimental and they got more recognition in other countries than in France itself. But even if the films did not receive much recognition, the movement still played an important role in the development of cinematic art.

Essential Filmmakers Of The Cinema Du Look Film Movement

The style of cinema du look films are known for the use of saturated colors and elaborate set designs. This style has been brought to life in films such as Killing Zoe, Desperado and Drive.

As you can tell from the description, cinema du look films are known for their vivid colors and sharp contrast. However, it isn’t just that they look good, but how they were shot that makes these films stand out.

Here are some tips to improve your cinematography techniques using cinema du look as an example:

Shoot on film. While digital technology has its advantages, there’s something magical about shooting on film.


Shooting on film feels like photography used to feel before digital cameras came along. 

There is a feeling of timelessness when you shoot on film, whereas shooting digitally makes your photos feel dated almost immediately.

Filters galore! Cinema du look films have a very distinct color palette, so one of the best things you can do to improve your technique is to incorporate filters into your shots. These filters can be found at any local camera store.