In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I knew Truffaut and Goddard were important figures in cinema and that they had played a big part in revolutionising film making in a way that their influence is still strongly felt today. But now, after watching Two in the Wave, I don’t just know that stuff. Now, I think I finally understand it.”
Recently, in my neighbourhood, I saw something that’s all too common these days. A video shop that was closing down. They had a big sign out the front, “4 movies for $10”. I looked in my wallet, saw $30 and decided I wasn’t leaving that shop until I found 12 movies I thought were worth having on my DVD shelf. Some were movies I’d seen before. Some were movies I had a vague idea about and thought would be worth the $2.50 gamble. Some were oddities I’d never even heard of, but they looked interesting enough. So, thank you, Network Video Brunswick West. I never rented anything from you or even had a membership, but I did find some cool, interesting and mysterious things on your almost empty shelves.
“The 1959 Cannes festival consecrates French cinema’s New Wave.”
While today’s film industry appears to be dominated by American studios, stories and sensibilities, one of the most important turning points in modern cinema that is still being felt today took place in France in the years following the second World War. What is now known as the French New Wave introduced a new level of realism in film that had never been seen before this time. The New Wave added a level of emotional realism as well. The influence of this movement can still be seen today in Hollywood movies which attempt their own style of realism using many of the same techniques developed by directors like Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard in the mid twentieth century.
I know all of this because I just copied and pasted it from an old uni assignment I wrote a few years ago. But now, after watching Two in the Wave, a documentary about two of the founding fathers of the French New Wave, I realise that reading about cinema and film makers is nowhere near as informative as actually experiencing cinema and their work.
In the late 50s, Jean-Luc Goddard and Francois Truffaut were two Parisian film critics. And ‘critics’ is appropriate in all of its forms. Both were very outspoken about the state of French movie making at the time and how little respect they had for it. In 1958, Truffaut was even banned from the Cannes Film Festival, because he had bad mouthed it so much as a journalist. The very next year, he was the darling of the festival after premiering his debut movie, The 400 Blows. Soon after, he helped Goddard make Breathless, and the French New Wave was revolutionising film making all over the world, with Truffaut and Godard as its poster boys.
In the decades that followed, they would have hits, they would have flops, and they would continue to fight the good fight, damning the old fashioned, conservative movie making establishment, and pushing their barrow of truth and sincerity in story telling. Until their philosophies began to grow apart, and a public feud saw the end of their friendship and professional collaborations, under a hail of bitchy comments from and about each other in the press.
Before watching Two in the Wave, I knew Truffaut and Goddard were important figures in cinema and that they had played a big part in revolutionising film making in a way that their influence is still strongly felt today. But now, after watching Two in the Wave, I don’t just know that stuff. Now, I think I finally understand it. Movies all over the world, not just in France, had become extremely formulaic and formal in the stories and how they told them. The French New Wave injected a dangerous feeling of realism and grittiness that was long overdue. Now, thinking about how formulaic and formal main stream movies have once again become, it seems like the next generation Jean-Luc Goddards and Francois Truffauts are more needed than ever.