The French New Wave came in two different phrases starting with the first from 1958 – 62. This was the most popular in French cinema for a long time as it spoke to the younger audiences and of the youth culture at that time. The New Wave certainly borrowed traits and characteristics from other film movements which has prompted this question of how new the New Wave actually was. The influence of Neo-Realism on French films of this era is clear as they use a documentary style.
Italian neo-realism is described by Napolitano as “The transformation and the reflection of an ordinary experience into a feeling and then into an idea and image” (2007, p.114). This resulted in cinema becoming an outlet for certain attitudes towards the environment that creators were in and the political landscape of the time.
Sergei Eisenstein was a hugely influential figure in the revolutionary spectacle genre. His earliest films in the 20s were exemplary of this fact as Eisenstein “was happy to serve the regime in any way he was asked to.” (Kenez, 1985, p. 212). Strike (Eisenstein, 1925) and October 1917 (Eisenstein, 1927) displayed Eisenstein’s willingness and ability to produce influential propaganda pieces to support the regime.
During the 1920s Hollywood dominated British cinema, “By 1923 … only 10 percent of the films shown in Britain were actually made in Britain, and by 1926 this had fallen to 5 percent.” (Richards, 1984, p.35). There was very little money to be made by British filmmakers, resulting in government intervened with the Cinematograph Films Act of 1927. This act allowed profits generated by the Distribution and Exhibition of American films to be put back into British filmmaking.
Expressionism was first applied to painting before being shared by other art forms such as music, fiction, and theatre. “” Expressionism,” already in circulation before the war, connoting revolt against the established order, was elevated enough as high culture” (Elsaesser, 2016, p. 21) and initially relied on binary oppositions such as freedom against authority and wealthy vs. poor which can be seen in Metropolis (Lang, 1927) which follows the same ideologies of revolt against established order as seen in expressionist pieces before the war.
French Cinema in the 80s was in crisis. With television being more prominently watched than ever before as a result of increased affordability meaning that by 1975 most households had a television set. Along with the death of François Truffaut in 1984 being the symbolic collapse of a certain idea of the auteur, French Cinema was struggling to find an identity.