The late 1950s and 1960s in France were a period of tremendous cultural and social upheaval. In the cinema, it saw the arrival of a new generation of film-makers (including such famous names as Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Jacques Rivette, Éric Rohmer, and Agnès Varda), who brought a fresh dynamism and inventiveness to film. Influenced both by classic European cinema and by American genre movies (gangster films, thrillers, and musical comedy), these film-makers helped redefine the possibilities of the medium in a way that is still apparent in European cinema and Hollywood productions today. At the same time, the 1960s witnessed many changes in attitude — regarding love, sex, politics, youth culture, France’s position in the world, and much else besides — and it is these that are explored in detail in the films of the decade. In this module, we will watch about ten films, drawn from the varied output of the period, and seek to chart the development of a distinctive film style as well as the social changes that transformed post-war France.
This module will be of particular interest to students who took the French Cinema module in their second year; but it is open to all students whether or not they have studied film before. Classes will not follow a traditional lecture + seminar format but will consist of a mixture of mini-lectures, student presentations, group work and class discussions. Audio-visual resources are available through the School's Transnational Resources Centre.
Week 1: Precursors 1: ...Et Dieu créa la femme (Roger Vadim, 1956).
Week 2: Precursors 2: Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (Louis Malle, 1958).
Week 3: Crest of the wave 1: Les 400 coups (François Truffaut, 1959).
Week 4: Crest of the wave 2: Les Cousins (Claude Chabrol, 1959).
Week 5: Crest of the wave 3: À bout de souffle (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960).
Week 6: Reading week
Week 7: Urban space 1: Cléo de 5 à 7 (Agnès Varda, 1961).
Week 8: Urban space 2: Paris nous appartient (Jacques Rivette, 1961).
Week 9: Music: Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 1964).
Week 10: Conclusions: Paris vu par... (various directors, 1965).
You may choose to be assessed either by a single long essay of 4000-4500 words (100%)
or by one essay of 2000-2500 words (50%) and one formal exam (one hour, 50%).