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Film series rides French New Wave
Jackson Hole, Wyoming – At a time when Hollywood was adhering to a safe blueprint of cookie cutter endings and straightforward cinematography, a renegade film style was surfacing in France.
Employing unconventional narrative methods, French New Wave emerged in the late 1950s and its far-reaching influence can still be seen in films today. If you’ve ever watched a movie by Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorcese or Bernando Bertolucci, you are already acquainted with French New Wave’s enduring influence.
This week, Teton County Library launches a French New Wave film series that will highlight this profoundly instrumental film genre. The series will begin with The 400 Blows by Francois Truffaut.
Local filmmaker and American Film Institute alumna Spark Malachowski runs the TCL movie night program. She says French New Wave storytelling is wrought with gritty realism. “[French New Wave filmmakers] were interested in communicating a more real view of the world – verging on a documentary point of view rather than the very stylized films of that time,” Malachowski said.
Entwining avant-garde filming and editing techniques with themes exploring existential dilemmas and social and political conflict, French New Wave films offer depth and engagement to its viewers who are often left to ponder an unresolved ending.
The 400 Blows, which tells the story of a troubled young boy named Antoine, uncovers valuable insight into director Truffaut’s own rocky childhood, Malachowski explained. “Antoine Doinel has been called Truffaut’s ‘alter ego.’ Many of the events in the film are loosely based on Truffaut’s childhood, such as his difficulty in school, truancy, sneaking into movie theaters, etc. … Doinel lives in a harsh world but as Truffaut’s alter ego, the audience senses that underneath Doinel’s pain is a toughness and resilience that helps him survive and eventually prevail.”
Films screening in upcoming weeks include Masculin-Feminin, which depicts a young man’s struggle to readjust to society after a stint in the French army, all while his girlfriend takes a stab at pop stardom. Then Cleo from 5 to 7 takes us on a stroll through Paris with a French singer awaiting the results of a test that threatens drastic consequences.
The 400 Blows screens at 6 p.m., Thursday at Ordway Auditorium in Teton County Library. Malachowski will lead a discussion after each screening. www.tclib.org.