Home FM 2 FM 1 FM4 Narrative "Talk to Her" As/A2 in brief World Cinema Experimental Film

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Content Section A:

This section requires a specific engagement with a World Cinema topic, including contextual knowledge.

There are prescribed topics but no prescribed films and questions will be broadly - based. Suggested films are listed in the Notes for Guidance .

International Film Styles Topics for examination are:

German and/or Soviet Cinema of the 1920s  


Neo - Realism

New Waves.

This topic focuses on the characteristics of a film style which may have originated in a particular national cinema as a ' movement ' and which subsequently has had trans - national significance.

It is possible to focus on the initial moment, such as German Expressionism or Soviet Montage in the 1920s or Italian Neo - Realism in the 1940s or the French New Wave in the 1960s in two principal films , with the expectation that the candidate will have some awareness of the adaptation of the style elsewhere in at least one further film. A different approach would be to look at parallel developments – such as the emergence of different kinds of ' expressive ' cinema in the 1920s in Germany and the USSR o r different ' new waves ' in different national contexts.


Much of the French New Wave seems to have been built upon filtering American pulp culture through the lens of French and European intellectualism (or pseudo-intellectualism, if you are cranky about such things) as much as it is rejecting the classical aspects of a well-polished, well-made film in favour of experimental cinema-verite style, clever editing, and almost documentary-style proximity to the subjects of the film, often with handheld cameras.

It all begins here in Godard's directorial debut, and many claim that all modern filmmaking begins with this movie, meaning you can look at Breathless in one of two ways: you can look at it as a film, or you can look at it as a revolution. Well, yeah, you can look at it any other number of ways, or combine those two, but they are the aspects of the film with which I'll be poking around. As a revolution, there's not much denying Breathless' impact on filmmaking. Everything changed the day people saw Breathless. Technique changed, and more importantly perhaps, content changed. It is the movie that opened the way for more radical political films. It pioneered a style of filmmaking, writing, and acting and inspired countless stylistic offshoots that took the manifesto and ran with it in wildly diverse directions.

It challenged pretty much everything anyone thought they knew about how a film could be executed. In this sense, it doesn't matter how the pieces are put together in Breathless itself; it only matters what Breathless did to other films.

As is befitting for such an anti-establishment sort of movement, many of the innovations in the film were not the product of a conscious philosophy but were, in fact, simply side effects of limitations.

Handheld shots were used because they could not afford to lie down tracks for proper dolly shots.

The jump edits which came to define the film were a product of the film being overlong by half an hour.

Rather than cutting whole scenes, Godard decided to trim bits and pieces from within each scene.

The New Wave is about a new relationship between fiction and reality.

Cahiers du Cinema: important journal edited by Andre Bazin

- group of critics-turned-filmmakers in mid-50s (Truffaut, Godard, Chabrol, Rivette, Rohmer)

- rejected commercial French cinema

- created style & aesthetics of independent, low-budget filmmaking out of necessity; they made do with what they had

- influenced by American movies, especially the genre masters like Hitchcock, Ford, and Hawks

- developed ideas about mise-en-scene and auteur theory; saw a dialectical relationship between the director's unique vision (themes, style, motifs) and the genre's conventions

- cinema about cinema

"LEFT BANK" filmmakers

(Resnais, Varda, Marker)

- same time period as Cahiers group, but their roots were in documentary film rather than criticism

- also cinematic modernists

- saw cinema in relation to other arts, especially literature

Characteristics of the New Wave:

- technological developments of television industry:

1) lightweight handheld cameras,

2) portable synchronous sound,

3) light-sensitive fast film stocks,

4) zoom lenses

new technologies allowed location shooting with small crews, improvisation during shooting, increased camera movement, natural light and sound

- self-conscious cinema

1) self-reflexive narratives, loose discursive plots, authorial intrusions, homages

2) camera and editing techniques such as iris shots, freeze frames, wipes, fast and slow motion

- unconventional editing

1) disrupts sense of time and space with flashbacks, jump cuts, asides

2) rejection of continuity editing of Classical Hollywood style in favour of lengthy takes, beginning scenes with close-ups instead of establishing shots


French critic Michel Mane lists a series of key factors that dictated the aesthetics of New Wave films

1 the auteur-director also writes the screenplay,

2 a strictly broken-down decoupage (shot breakdown) is not used and a significant place is left to improvisation in the conception of the sequences, the dialogue and the performances,

3 natural decor and locations are privileged over studio sets,

4 a minimal crew of a few people is used,

5 'direct sound' recorded at the moment of shooting is preferred to post-synchronisation,

6 traditional lighting set-ups, deemed to be cumbersome, are dispensed with so the director of photography tends to work with fast, ultra-sensitive film,

7 non-professional actors are used to interpret the characters,

8 if professional actors are chosen, they tend to be 'new faces' who are directed in a loose and free fashion

(Mane 1998)


While this is an excellent slide sequence it, perhaps goes into more detail than will be required by the examiners.