The French New Wave is a cinema movement that started in the late 1950s and lasted until the mid-1960s.

It was led by Jean Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer and others.

The films were often shot on location with non-professional actors as well as innovative camera techniques that are now standard practice today like hand-held cameras to get more intimate shots of their subjects.

If you’re a fan of French cinema, then I’m sure you’ve heard of the term “French New Wave.”

But what does it mean? The French New Wave is a movement that saw many young filmmakers break into the industry during this time period.

This was largely in response to both World War II and the conservative nature of post-war France.

These directors were all looking for new ways to express themselves artistically, which led them to make films about everyday life with little or no realism involved.

The style of these films is best described as more experimental than previous ones, such as Italian neorealism and Hollywood’s Classical Hollywood Style.

In addition, they often employed techniques like hand-held cameras and jump cuts – something that had not been regularly done before French New Wave.


What Are French New Wave Films?

French New Wave films are defined by a rebellious attitude, the filmmakers’ rejection of established traditions in film-making, and their desire to experiment with cinematic technology.

The founders of this movement were Jean Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer.


What Is The French New Wave?

The French New Wave is a film movement that emerged from France in the 1950s.

The films were characterized by fast-paced editing, close-ups of faces, and on-location shooting for authentic backgrounds.

They often focused on topics such as religion, class struggle, sexuality, and youth culture.

These films are considered some of the most influential and innovative ever made.

It also explores what drew audiences to these types of films at the time they were released and how they have influenced other filmmaking styles since then.

The French New Wave is a film movement that started in the late 1950s.

It was largely influenced by Italian Neorealism and classical Hollywood cinema, and it is often considered as the birth of modern cinema.


The term “French New Wave” has been used to describe an independent film movement from France in the 1960s, but this article will focus on films made during the original period of 1959-1964.

Films like “Breathless” (1960) were groundbreaking because they rejected traditional cinematic techniques such as deep focus cinematography or linear narratives for more experimental ones that included jump cuts, hand-held camera shots, natural lighting, and location shooting.

These new techniques allowed filmmakers to break away from what had come before them and create something entirely new. Something fresh.

The French New Wave was characterized by:

  • an informal style of filmmaking,
  • improvisation during shooting,
  • hand-held cameras for ‘natural’ shots, and
  • experimental editing, often using ‘jump cuts.’

The films are noted for their innovative approaches to:

  • narrative,
  • cinematography,
  • use of sound,
  • dialogue delivery (often naturalistic), and
  • their breaking away from traditional Hollywood conventions such as the three-act structure or omniscient narrator.

Best French New Wave Films

The French New Wave, or La Nouvelle Vague in its native tongue, is a film movement that took place largely during the late 1950s to late 1960s.

While it was initially seen as a rejection of traditional Hollywood cinema, it has since been embraced for its ability to shock audiences with its innovative techniques.

A key feature of the French New Wave is their preference for shooting on location and using natural lighting rather than relying on studio sets or artificial light sources.

By filming outside instead of inside studios, they were able to capture life as it actually happens; something that had never been done before in movies at this scale.

This technique also allowed them to use more improvisation from actors because they weren’t confined by set rules and regulations like other films.

Let’s look at what we believe to be the best French New Wave films.

Breathless (A bout de souffle) (1960)

Breathless (A bout de souffle) is a French New Wave film directed by Jean-Luc Godard and released in 1960.

The film is considered a masterpiece of modern cinema and has been influential on many subsequent films.

The film follows the story of Michel Poiccard, a small-time criminal and car thief who is on the run from the police after killing a cop.

Along the way, he meets an American student named Patricia and the two begin a tumultuous relationship.

As Michel tries to evade the police, he becomes increasingly desperate and unstable, leading to a tragic and unforgettable conclusion.

Breathless is a film that is as much about style as it is about substance. Godard’s use of jump cuts, hand-held cameras, and non-linear storytelling techniques broke new ground in the world of cinema and have had a lasting impact on filmmakers around the world.

The film also features a memorable soundtrack, with jazz music playing throughout the film.

The performances by Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg are both excellent, with their on-screen chemistry and interactions helping to bring the characters to life.

The film’s themes of love, crime, and the pursuit of freedom are explored in a unique and thought-provoking way, making it a must-see for anyone interested in the history of cinema.

A Bout De Souffle - Al Final De La Escapada - (Non USA Format)
  • Spanish (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: NC-17 (Adults Only)

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

“The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” is a French musical film directed by Jacques Demy and starring Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo.

The film is known for its vibrant colors and the use of sung dialogue throughout the film.

The story is set in the late 1950s in Cherbourg, France and follows the romance between 17-year-old Geneviève (Deneuve) and 20-year-old Guy (Castelnuovo).

The two fall deeply in love but their happiness is short-lived when Guy is drafted to fight in the Algerian War.

Geneviève finds out that she is pregnant and must face the reality of raising a child alone.

The film’s use of color and music makes it a visually stunning masterpiece.

The colorful and playful production design adds a whimsical element to the story, while the music composed by Michel Legrand is both memorable and emotional.

The film’s themes of love, loss, and the passing of time are all beautifully depicted.

Catherine Deneuve delivers a standout performance as Geneviève, capturing the innocence and vulnerability of her character with grace.

Nino Castelnuovo also shines as Guy, bringing a genuine sense of longing and passion to his role.

Paris Belongs to Us / Paris nous appartient (1961)

Paris Belongs to Us (1961) is a thought-provoking and enigmatic film that explores the struggles of a group of young, politically active Parisians in the late 1950s.

Directed by French filmmaker Jacques Rivette, the film is a complex and layered exploration of existentialism, paranoia, and political disillusionment.

The story follows the character of Anne, a young woman who becomes involved in a group of intellectuals and artists who are struggling to find meaning and purpose in their lives.

As the group becomes increasingly consumed by their own anxieties and paranoia, they begin to suspect that they are being targeted by a shadowy conspiracy.

The film is visually striking, with Rivette utilizing the stunning backdrop of Paris to great effect.

The stark black-and-white cinematography creates a moody and atmospheric tone, while the long, static shots and unconventional editing style add to the film’s sense of unease.

The performances are also excellent, with Anne played by the talented Betty Schneider, who gives a nuanced and complex portrayal of a woman caught between her own desires and the pressures of the world around her.

While the film’s themes and narrative can be challenging to follow at times, it is ultimately a rewarding and thought-provoking experience.

Paris Belongs to Us is a masterful exploration of the complexities of human relationships and the struggle for meaning in an uncertain world.


Paris Belongs to Us (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
  • Paris Belongs To Us (Criterion Collection) - Blu-ray Used Like New
  • Betty Schneider, Jean-Claude Brialy (Actors)
  • Jacques Rivette (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Shoot The Piano Player / Tirez sur le pianiste (1960)

Shoot the Piano Player (Tirez sur le pianiste) is a 1960 French New Wave film directed by François Truffaut.

The movie follows Charlie, a former concert pianist who now works as a bar pianist.

Charlie’s life takes a dramatic turn when his criminal brother comes back into his life, and he must navigate dangerous situations to protect his loved ones.

The film is a classic example of the French New Wave movement, characterized by its non-linear plot, use of jump cuts, and overall experimental approach to filmmaking.

The performances are all exceptional, with Charles Aznavour delivering a nuanced portrayal of Charlie, and Marie Dubois bringing a lively energy to her role as Léna, the woman who captures Charlie’s heart.

Truffaut’s direction is masterful, with a blend of humor and tragedy that keeps the audience engaged throughout.

The film is also notable for its use of music, with a memorable score by Georges Delerue and a scene-stealing performance by Charlie’s character on the piano.


Shoot the Piano Player (1960) ( Tirez sur le pianiste ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, Blu-Ray, Reg.B Import - United Kingdom ]
  • Shoot the Piano Player (1960) ( Tirez sur le pianiste )
  • Shoot the Piano Player (1960)
  • Tirez sur le pianiste
  • Charles Aznavour, Marie Dubois, Daniel Boulanger (Actors)
  • Fran?ois Truffaut (Director) - Shoot the Piano Player (1960) ( Tirez sur le pianiste ) (Producer)

Last Year At Marienbad (1961)

Last Year at Marienbad is a surrealistic French film from 1961, directed by Alain Resnais and written by Alain Robbe-Grillet.

The film is a stunning example of French New Wave cinema, with its non-linear storytelling, stylistic flourishes, and enigmatic themes.

The film takes place at a luxurious chateau in Marienbad, where an unnamed man (Giorgio Albertazzi) attempts to convince a woman (Delphine Seyrig) that they had a romantic encounter the previous year at the same location.

However, the woman repeatedly denies any recollection of their meeting, leading the man to become increasingly desperate and obsessive in his pursuit.

The narrative is intentionally fragmented and disorienting, with scenes and images repeating and morphing into one another in a dreamlike manner.

The film’s cinematography is particularly striking, with elegant long takes and a distinctive use of shadows and reflections.

Last Year at Marienbad is a challenging and unconventional film that demands the viewer’s active engagement and interpretation.

The film’s themes include memory, time, perception, and the nature of reality, and it is left up to the audience to piece together the meaning and significance of the events on screen.


Last Year at Marienbad (1961) ( L'Anne dernire Marienbad ) ( L'Anno scorso a Marienbad ) [ Blu-Ray, Reg.A/B/C Import - France ]
  • Last Year at Marienbad (1961) ( L'Anne dernire Marienbad ) ( L'Anno scorso a Marienbad )
  • Last Year at Marienbad (1961)
  • L'Anne dernire Marienbad
  • L'Anno scorso a Marienbad
  • Delphine Seyrig, Giorgio Albertazzi, Sacha Pitoff (Actors)

La jetée (1962)

La jetée is a French science fiction short film directed by Chris Marker.

It tells the story of a man who has been subjected to time travel experiments in a post-apocalyptic world.

The film is unique in that it consists almost entirely of still images and voice-over narration, with only one brief sequence of live-action footage.

The story follows the protagonist, a man who has a vivid memory from his childhood of seeing a woman on a pier at an airport just before witnessing a traumatic event.

As an adult, he is chosen to participate in a time travel experiment in order to help his fellow survivors.

The experiment involves sending him back in time to the moment he saw the woman on the pier, in the hope that he can help prevent the catastrophe that followed.

The film’s use of still images creates a haunting and dreamlike atmosphere, and the voice-over narration adds to the sense of isolation and desperation felt by the characters.

The film explores themes of memory, time, and the human condition in a post-apocalyptic world.

La jetée is widely regarded as a classic of French cinema and an important film in the science fiction genre.

Its influence can be seen in the works of other filmmakers, such as Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys.

While its experimental style may not be for everyone, it is a fascinating and thought-provoking work that has stood the test of time.


Jules et Jim (1962)

Jules et Jim is a French New Wave film directed by François Truffaut, based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Henri-Pierre Roché.

The film follows the lives of two friends, Jules (Oskar Werner) and Jim (Henri Serre), who both fall in love with the free-spirited Catherine (Jeanne Moreau) in pre-World War I Paris.

The film is a unique exploration of love, friendship, and the complexities of relationships.

Jules and Jim share a deep bond, and their friendship is tested when they both fall in love with Catherine.

The three embark on a tumultuous love affair, with Catherine constantly seeking new experiences and pushing the boundaries of what is considered acceptable in society.

The film takes us on a journey through their lives, as they navigate through World War I, Catherine’s unpredictable behavior, and their changing feelings towards each other.

Truffaut’s direction and the performances of the three leads make this film a masterpiece.

The use of voice-over narration, freeze frames, and non-linear storytelling techniques were groundbreaking at the time, and influenced many filmmakers in the years to come.

Jeanne Moreau’s portrayal of Catherine is particularly captivating, as she perfectly embodies the essence of a free-spirited, independent woman who refuses to conform to societal norms.

Jules et Jim is a beautifully shot film that captures the essence of Paris and the bohemian lifestyle of the time.

The film’s themes of love and friendship, and the exploration of the complexities of human relationships, make it a timeless classic.

Jules et Jim is a must-see for anyone interested in French New Wave cinema, or for those who appreciate a great love story.

Jules & Jim [Blu-ray]
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

Pierrot le fou (1965)

“Pierrot le fou” is a French film directed by Jean-Luc Godard.

The movie is a combination of a love story and a crime thriller, and is known for its stylistic experimentation and its use of vibrant colors.

The film stars Jean-Paul Belmondo as Ferdinand, a man who is tired of his mundane life and decides to leave his wife and family to go on a road trip with Marianne, played by Anna Karina.

Marianne is being chased by gangsters and has stolen money from them, which puts Ferdinand in danger as well.

Throughout the film, Godard employs a variety of techniques, such as jump cuts, voice-over narration, and a non-linear storyline.

The use of vibrant colors, including bright blues, pinks, and greens, also contributes to the film’s unique visual style.

The chemistry between Belmondo and Karina is one of the highlights of the film, as they play off each other well and their dialogue is often witty and playful.

The movie also features an eclectic soundtrack, which ranges from classical music to rock and roll.

Pierrot le fou (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
  • Raymond Devos, Dirk Sanders, Graziella Galvani (Actors)
  • Jean-Luc Godard (Director) - Georges de Beauregard (Producer)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Contempt (Le mépris) (1963)

“Contempt” (Le mépris) is a French-Italian drama film directed by Jean-Luc Godard, starring Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, and Jack Palance.

The film is based on the novel “Il disprezzo” by Italian writer Alberto Moravia.

The story follows a screenwriter, Paul Javal (Michel Piccoli), who is hired to adapt Homer’s “Odyssey” into a movie script by a wealthy American producer, Jeremy Prokosch (Jack Palance).

Paul’s relationship with his wife Camille (Brigitte Bardot) becomes strained as he becomes more involved in the movie business and starts to succumb to the superficiality and greed of the Hollywood system.

At its core, “Contempt” is a film about the struggles of artistic integrity in the face of commercialism.

The film is known for its stunning visuals, with Godard’s use of color and composition creating a sense of unease and detachment in the audience.

The performances are also exceptional, with Bardot and Piccoli delivering nuanced and complex portrayals of their characters.

Le Mepris (The Studio Canal Collection) [Blu-ray]
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

Hiroshima, My Love (1959)

“Hiroshima, My Love” is a French film directed by Alain Resnais. The film is a poignant exploration of memory, love, and loss in the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

The story follows a French actress, Elle (Emmanuelle Riva), who travels to Hiroshima to shoot a film about peace.

While there, she meets a Japanese architect, Lui (Eiji Okada), and the two begin a passionate love affair.

However, as they explore their feelings for each other, they confront the memories and traumas of their respective pasts, particularly Elle’s painful experiences during World War II in France.

The film’s nonlinear narrative structure, jump cuts, and use of archival footage give it a distinctive and experimental feel.

It masterfully weaves together past and present, fiction and reality, to create a deeply affecting exploration of the human condition.

The cinematography by Michio Takahashi captures the beauty of Hiroshima and its devastation, creating a powerful visual backdrop for the characters’ emotions.

The film’s haunting score by Georges Delerue perfectly complements the melancholic mood of the story.

Hiroshima mon amour [Blu-ray]
  • Emmanuelle Riva, Eiji Okada (Actors)
  • Alain Resnais (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Cléo From 5 to 7 (1962)

Cléo from 5 to 7 is a French film released in 1962 and directed by Agnès Varda.

The film follows the life of a young singer named Cléo, who is awaiting the results of a medical test that could reveal a serious illness.

The film takes place over the course of two hours in real-time as Cléo wanders through Paris, encountering various characters and experiencing a range of emotions.

The film is a poignant exploration of mortality and the human condition, as Cléo grapples with the prospect of her own mortality and the fragility of life.

The film is also a commentary on the role of women in society, as Cléo struggles to find her place in a world that often values women only for their beauty and youth.

The cinematography in the film is striking, with Varda using a variety of techniques to convey Cléo’s perspective and emotions.

The film also features a memorable soundtrack, with original songs by Michel Legrand.

Cléo from 5 to 7 is a masterpiece of French New Wave cinema, with Varda’s direction and Corinne Marchand’s performance as Cléo both receiving critical acclaim.

The film remains a classic of French cinema and a must-see for fans of art house cinema.

The 400 Blows (1959)

“The 400 Blows” is a classic French New Wave film directed by Francois Truffaut.

The film tells the story of Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Leaud), a troubled and rebellious adolescent who struggles with his troubled home life, problems at school, and an overall sense of alienation from the world around him.

The film is a poignant exploration of the difficulties faced by many young people as they navigate the challenges of growing up.

Through the character of Antoine, Truffaut offers a searing indictment of the institutional and societal factors that contribute to the marginalization of young people in modern society.

The film is visually stunning, with Truffaut employing a variety of experimental techniques to create a sense of disorientation and emotional intensity.

The use of handheld cameras, jump cuts, and naturalistic lighting all contribute to the film’s realistic and gritty tone.

The 400 Blows (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
  • Jean-Pierre Leaud (Actor)
  • François Truffaut (Director)

The Nun (La réligieuse) (1966)

The Nun (La réligieuse) is a French drama film directed by Jacques Rivette and starring Anna Karina in the lead role.

The film is based on the novel of the same name by Denis Diderot and tells the story of a young woman named Suzanne who is forced by her family to become a nun.

As she struggles to adjust to the rigid rules and customs of the convent, Suzanne is subjected to various forms of abuse and mistreatment at the hands of the other nuns and the Mother Superior.

Despite her hardships, she remains determined to escape and live life on her own terms.

The Nun is a thought-provoking and powerful film that explores themes of oppression, abuse, and religious hypocrisy.

Rivette’s direction is both delicate and unflinching, capturing the oppressive atmosphere of the convent and the emotional turmoil of Suzanne’s journey.

Karina delivers a standout performance as Suzanne, portraying her with a mix of vulnerability and steely determination.

The supporting cast is also impressive, with several standout performances from the actresses portraying the other nuns.

La Religieuse [ The Nun ] [ Jacques Rivette ]
  • Photos
  • ANNA KARINA (Actor)
  • JACQUES RIVETTE (Director)
  • Portuguese Brazilian (Subtitle)

Les bonnes femmes (1960)

“Les bonnes femmes” is a French film directed by Claude Chabrol that explores the lives of four young women working as shop assistants in Paris.

Despite their mundane jobs, each woman dreams of a better life, whether it be through love, fame or adventure.

The film follows the women as they navigate their everyday lives, from going out to dance clubs to dealing with lecherous male customers.

Their individual struggles and desires are contrasted with their shared experience of disappointment and disillusionment.

Chabrol’s direction is understated yet powerful, drawing attention to the quiet moments of everyday life and creating a sense of unease through the use of atmospheric sound and imagery.

The film is also notable for its feminist themes, as it portrays the women’s struggles against societal expectations and the limitations placed upon them.

Les Bonnes Femmes
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Jean-Marie Arnoux, France Asselin, Stéphane Audran (Actors)
  • Claude Chabrol (Director)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

Le bonheur (1965)

“Le Bonheur” is a French film directed by Agnès Varda that tells the story of a happily married man named François who unexpectedly falls in love with another woman, and the subsequent consequences that follow.

François is a carpenter living in the suburbs of Paris with his wife Thérèse and their two children.

He is content with his life, but when he meets Émilie, a postal worker, he falls deeply in love with her. Despite feeling guilty,

François decides to pursue a relationship with Émilie, and they begin an affair. Initially, François feels that he can have both women in his life, but soon discovers that it is not that simple.

As the story unfolds, we see the devastating effects of François’ actions on his family and the people around him.

Varda masterfully depicts the complexities of human emotion and relationships, challenging the viewer to question their own beliefs about love and happiness.

“Le Bonheur” is a visually stunning film, with Varda’s use of bright colors and natural settings creating a serene and idyllic world that is shattered by François’ actions.

The film’s themes of love, morality, and the consequences of one’s actions are still relevant today, making it a timeless masterpiece of French cinema.

Four by Agnes Varda (La Pointe Courte / Cleo from 5 to 7 / Le bonheur / Vagabond) (The Criterion Collection) [DVD]
  • Agnes Varda (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

La collectionneuse (1967)

La Collectionneuse is a French New Wave film directed by Éric Rohmer.

It tells the story of Adrien, a young man who decides to spend his summer at a villa in the south of France.

His plans of solitude are interrupted when his friend Daniel arrives with his girlfriend, the free-spirited Haydée.

Adrien becomes infatuated with Haydée and begins to pursue her, but she is more interested in exploring her own desires and independence.

The film explores themes of love, desire, and freedom through its characters and their interactions.

It is a character-driven film that focuses on the internal struggles and emotional complexities of its protagonists.

Rohmer’s signature naturalistic style is present throughout the film, with long, unbroken shots and minimal editing.

La Collectionneuse received critical acclaim upon its release and is considered a classic of the French New Wave.

It is a thought-provoking and engaging film that offers a unique perspective on the complexities of relationships and the human experience.

My Night at Maud’s (1969)

“My Night at Maud’s” is a 1969 French film directed by Eric Rohmer.

The film is part of the “Six Moral Tales” series, a collection of films exploring themes of love, morality, and desire.

The story follows Jean-Louis, a devout Catholic and mathematician, who becomes infatuated with a woman he meets at church, Francoise. While out with friends, Jean-Louis runs into Maud, an old acquaintance, and spends the night at her apartment discussing philosophy, religion, and love.

The film is a dialogue-heavy piece, with much of the story taking place through conversations between the characters.

It explores complex philosophical ideas and questions of morality, particularly in regards to love and sex.

The performances in “My Night at Maud’s” are superb, with Jean-Louis Trintignant bringing a quiet intensity to his role as Jean-Louis.

The film’s pacing is deliberate, allowing the conversations between the characters to slowly unfold and reveal their innermost thoughts and desires.


My Night with Maud ( Ma nuit chez Maud ) ( Six Moral Tales III: My Night at Maud's ) (Blu-Ray & DVD Combo) [ NON-USA FORMAT, Blu-Ray, Reg.B Import - France ]
  • My Night with Maud ( Ma nuit chez Maud ) ( Six Moral Tales III: My Night at Maud's ) (Blu-Ray & DVD
  • My Night with Maud
  • Ma nuit chez Maud
  • Six Moral Tales III: My Night at Maud's
  • Jean-Louis Trintignant, Franoise Fabian, Marie-Christine Barrault (Actors)

Zazie dans le métro (1960)

Zazie dans le métro is a surreal French New Wave film directed by Louis Malle and released in 1960.

The film is based on the novel by Raymond Queneau and tells the story of a young girl named Zazie who comes to Paris to visit her uncle.

However, her plans for adventure are thwarted when the Paris metro workers go on strike, trapping her in the city.

The film is a whimsical and playful exploration of Parisian life, seen through the eyes of a young girl. Zazie, played by Catherine Demongeot, is a mischievous and irreverent character who rebels against authority and challenges the status quo.

The film is a commentary on the social and political climate of France in the 1960s, and the generation gap that was widening between adults and youth.

Malle’s direction is experimental and daring, using jump cuts and unconventional camera angles to create a frenetic and energetic atmosphere.

The film’s colorful and vibrant cinematography captures the bustling streets of Paris, making it a visual feast for viewers.

Zazie dans le métro is a must-see for fans of the French New Wave and those who appreciate surreal and unconventional cinema.

Its playful and irreverent tone makes it a timeless classic that continues to captivate audiences to this day.


ZAZIE EN EL METRO (Zazie Dans Le Metro) All Regions - PAL - Louis Malle
  • Spanish (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

The Young Girls of Rochefort (Les Demoiselles de Rochefort) (1967)

“The Young Girls of Rochefort” is a French musical directed by Jacques Demy, with music by Michel Legrand.

The film takes place in the fictional town of Rochefort, where twin sisters Delphine and Solange are looking for love and adventure.

They meet a host of colorful characters, including a sailor, a musician, and a poet, all of whom are also searching for love.

The film is a vibrant and colorful celebration of life, love, and music.

The musical numbers are exuberant and joyful, with impressive choreography and catchy tunes.

The performances are top-notch, with Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac shining as the charismatic twin sisters.

But beneath the surface, the film also explores themes of identity, destiny, and the fleeting nature of happiness.

The characters all seem to be searching for something, whether it be love, artistic fulfillment, or a sense of purpose, but they all struggle with the transience of their desires.


The Young Girls of Rochefort (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
  • Catherine Deneuve, Françoise Dorléac, George Chakiris (Actors)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: G (General Audience)

Le Beau Serge (1958)

Le Beau Serge is the debut feature film from French director Claude Chabrol and is widely regarded as a cornerstone of the French New Wave movement.

The film follows François (Jean-Claude Brialy), a young man who returns to his hometown in rural France after a long absence to visit his childhood friend, Serge (Gérard Blain).

Upon his arrival, François discovers that his friend has become an alcoholic and is deeply unhappy with his life.

Despite François’ attempts to help him, Serge’s condition deteriorates, and François is forced to confront his own feelings of guilt and regret over their past.

Le Beau Serge is a strikingly raw and honest exploration of the complexity of human relationships and the struggle to find meaning in life.

Chabrol’s direction is both understated and powerful, conveying the film’s themes with a delicate touch.

The film is shot in black and white, and the bleak, desolate landscapes of rural France serve as a powerful metaphor for the characters’ emotional states.

Jean-Claude Brialy and Gérard Blain both deliver powerful performances as François and Serge, respectively, capturing the emotional turmoil and desperation of their characters.

The film’s score, composed by Pierre Jansen, is haunting and evocative, adding to the film’s melancholic and introspective tone.

Le Beau Serge (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Gerard Blain, Jean-Claude Brialy, Michele Meritz (Actors)
  • Claude Chabrol (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)

What Are The Characteristics Of French New Wave

The French New Wave Film Movement is known for its innovative visual style.

The filmmakers of this movement experimented with the camera and editing to create a new way of filmmaking.

They focused on characters’ psychology and their emotional states, while also exploring social issues such as alienation in modern society.

The following are some characteristics that you might find in a film from this movement:

  • hand-held camera,
  • jump cuts,
  • point-of-view shots,
  • offscreen space or sound used to imply something happening elsewhere on the screen (usually out of view),
  • fast cutting between various scenes or shots that show what different characters are doing during the same time period (often done without regard for continuity),
  • sudden changes from silence to loud music or vice versa,
  • unusual angles,
  • A rebellious and/or youthful streak.

The term “French New Wave” was coined by critics and refers to a group of young filmmakers who had their films screened at Cannes Film Festival, such as Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, and Claude Chabrol.

The French New Wave is characterized by its innovative techniques in editing, camera angles, use of sound (such as diegetic music), lack of plot or storyline, and unconventional narrative structures.

These characteristics are seen in many different movies produced during this period including Breathless directed by Jean-Luc Godard.

The French New Wave is a period in film history that lasted from the late 1950s to the late-1960s.

It emphasized formalistic techniques and is known for its artistic aesthetic.

How Did The French New Wave Movement Originate

The French New Wave movement was developed in the 1950s and 1960s.

It is a term that encapsulates all of the films made by filmmakers who were born in or after 1929, and who came to prominence between 1955 and 1965.

The name “New Wave” comes from its connection to an analogy with new technologies such as television, which had been introduced at this time.

The main idea behind the movement was to create exciting cinema for young people – ‘cinéma du jeune public’ (the first big success being François Truffaut’s 1958 film Les Quatre Cents Coups).

Filmmakers like Jean-Luc Godard used the camera to capture shots of everyday life, including seemingly mundane moments.

The filmmakers of this era were known to be experimental with sound and image, as well as break traditional storytelling rules.

They also used new camera techniques that allowed them more fluidity in their shots.

These directors are credited with breaking down many barriers within filmmaking, such as those between fiction and documentary filmmaking and between cinema and television.

The new wave style is often thought to have been influenced by Italian Neorealism from 1945 to 1954 because they both share similar styles.

However, these two movements have different origin stories so they are not mutually exclusive or inclusive of one another.

The term ‘French new wave’ was coined by French film critic, Andre Bazin. This movement sought to have more realism and spontaneity as opposed to the classical Hollywood style of filmmaking.

It’s a style of filmmaking that became popular because it introduced lighter, more fluid films with shorter shots and faster editing.

The French New Wave filmmakers wanted to break free from traditional cinematic techniques by using a lot of close-ups and quick edits to keep things moving quickly.

International Popularity Of French New Wave

As we’ve covered, the French New Wave film movement was distinguished by its use of jump cuts, hand-held camera work, natural lighting, and filming on location.

The films were also noted for their youthful energy and rebelliousness.

The popularity of this film genre can be seen today with many new filmmakers in America adopting these techniques.

French New Wave is a movement within the French film industry occurring from about 1959 to 1964.

It was an era in which they experimented with lighter and more informal storytelling methods, like handheld cameras, jump cuts, fast cutting, location shooting, and improvisation.

The result was a new kind of cinema that rejected many of the conventional rules of Hollywood filmmaking and relied on experimentation.

This style became popular around the world for its use of naturalistic dialogue and casual settings.

As a result, it has been influential on generations of filmmakers including those who made modern-day classics such as Pulp Fiction or Raging Bull – Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese, respectively.

How The French New Wave Changed Cinema

Filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, and Claude Chabrol were instrumental in bringing about this new era of filmmaking.

The films produced during this time period are usually associated with youthful rebellion against traditional culture.

Theater attendance was declining by the end of World War II, leading to less money for production companies and theater owners.

In order to maintain their audiences, they needed to come up with something innovative – something original.

This need led them to embrace filmmakers like those mentioned above who were willing to take risks on new ideas and techniques on how best present movie scenes.

The result was an evolution in film and style

The wider new wave was an artistic movement in France and other parts of Europe, which changed the way cinema was made: it challenged traditional Hollywood standards by using handheld cameras, natural lighting, and sound recording on location.

It also had a profound impact on film culture with its focus on social realism, innovative storytelling techniques, and stylistic experimentation.

Films of the French New Wave were noted for their artistic and experimental nature.

They often broke traditional cinematic conventions, which was a radical shift in cinema at the time.

The movement is also notable for its focus on young people and how they are affected by society, as well as exploring new ways to express themselves artistically through film.

The French New Wave is one of the most influential film movements in history.

It changed how cinema was made and what it consisted of.

This movement’s goal was to capture reality on film, through the use of handheld cameras, long shots, natural lighting, and a loose narrative structure.

The filmmakers wanted audiences to feel as if they were part of the story rather than looking at it from afar.

The filmmakers also used unconventional editing techniques for their time that created a frenetic style with jump cuts and quick edits known as “jump-in” or “cut-in”.

From these techniques came what we know now as modern cinematography. These techniques can be seen today in films such as Mean Streets (1973) by Martin Scorsese and the work of Quentin Tarantino.

What Is French New Wave – Wrap Up

As we’ve covered, French New Wave cinema is a style of filmmaking that emerged from France in the late 1950s.

It was influenced by Italian Neorealism, and many filmmakers who were involved in it were former members of French Resistance groups during World War II.

This movement spawned such icons as Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, Éric Rohmer and Jacques Rivette.

The films often had creative techniques not seen before at the time like jump cuts and camera angles to make viewers feel more connected with what they are seeing on screen.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to the French New Wave. What are your favorite French New Wave films? Let us know in the comments below.

Ready to learn about more Film History & Film Movements?