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The Use of the Set in French New Wave Cinema - Research Paper Example

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The Use of the Set in French New Wave Cinema

One of these elements was the use of the set. The purpose of this paper is to explore the use of the set in French new-wave cinema, particularly by focusing on the work of Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut; two prominent examples of filmmakers of the era. This will be examined in the context of the effect that this has on the character development in this genre of film. The use of real-life sets and the additional differences in perception has a significant effect on the characters of the film, who often present themselves in the same disjointed and spontaneous manner as the real life sets. The Use of Set & Theatrical Scenery in French New-Wave Cinema For a variety of reasons explored below, the typical French new-wave director would choose to produce a film set within an area that was familiar to them, usually exploring the French middle-class youth and setting the scenes in recognizable areas (Neupert, 2007). Perhaps the best way to capture the spirit of France at the time was to use real-life locations rather than contrived sets, as had been done previously, and a number of participants in the films were real-life individuals. As the movement developed, a number of the directors (particularly Godard) began to move into the use of studio sets, although conscious efforts were made to avoid replicating the very style the French new-wave had been rebelling against, often trying to replicate the lighting and sound interruptions that came with filming within ‘reality’ (Marie & Neupert, 2003). One if the most important aspects of French new-wave cinema is that those involved were often limited in funding, and many of the films therefore relied on makeshift elements. Filming on the streets allowed these new French directors to avoid some of the financial constraints that had been associated with filmmaking in the past (Neupert, 2007). In the 1960 film Breathless (A bout de souffle), for example, many of the elements were completely improvised. The use of improvisation meant that the theatrical scenery was not constructed or purposefully used, and no permission was gained to shoot scenes on the boulevards of Paris (Turner, 1983). This was essentially done to create a spontaneous feel to the film, but may have been a result of the tight budget constraints on the film. Additionally, the film was designed to be in reportage (documentary) style, which means that the use of contrived set would have been unnecessary (Graham & Vincendeau, 2009). The conscious decision to avoid the use of a proper theatrical set in Breathless is typical of the rejection of classical cinematic form in French new-wave (Turner, 1983). Godard’s Contempt (Le Mepris) is another important example of film from this movement. Released in 1963, Contempt starts Brigitte Bardot in an adaptation of the Italian novel Il disprezzo. In contrast to Breathless, Contempt does not rely on already existing architecture and scene elements for the set, which much of the filming being done at the legendary Cinecitta studios in Italy (Neupert, 2007). As a result of this choice, Contempt has less of spontaneous feel, and some consider the film to be less of an example of the contrary nature of French new-wave due to the use of these prepared sets (Hayes, 2004). Contempt was additionally not designed to be shot in reportage style, and therefore the use of prepared ...Show more
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Cinematographers and directors of this movement were linked by their rejection of typical cinematic form, and their use of religious iconography as part of their filmmaking…
The Use of the Set in French New Wave Cinema
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