In 1959- early 1960 five directors released debut feature length films that are widely regarded as heralding the start of the French nouvelle vague or French New Wave. Claude Chabrols Le Beau Serge (The Good Serge, 1959) and Les Cousins (The Cousins, 1959) were released, along with Francois Truffauts Les Quatre cents coups (The 400 Blows, 1959), Jean-Luc Godards A bout de souffle (Breathless, 1960) and Alain Resnais Hiroshima mon amour (Hiroshima my love, 1959). These films were the beginning of a revolution in French cinema. In the following years these directors were to follow up their debuts, while other young directors made their first features, in fact between 1959-63 over 170 French directors made their debut films. These films were very different to anything French and American cinema had ever produced both in film style and film form and would change the shape of cinema to come for years. To understand how and why this nouvelle vague happened we must first look at the historical, social, economical and political aspects of France and the French film industry leading up to the onset of the nouvelle vague.
After the Second World War much of Europe was in ruins. 35 million people had died and most European countries were hugely in debt. 1947s Marshall plan saw billions of American dollars poured into Europe in the form of aid to help Europe rebuild. Along with this vast amount of aid came American expectations of political allegiance. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was born, a military alliance which committed members to oppose the USSR and Communism. This American influence extended into many aspects of society, including the Film industry. During the war years the flow of films from Hollywood into Europe had been drastically reduced. After the war the Americans were keen to expand again into Europe. The Motion Picture Export Association of America was formed. Hollywood formed this organisation to co-ordinate exports and to...
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