French New Wave and Poetic Realism Essay

1120 Words5 Pages
Since the very first actualities from the Lumière brothers and the fantastical shorts of Maries Georges Jean Méliès, cinema has continually fulfilled its fundamental purpose of artistic reflection on societal contexts throughout the evolution of film. Two French cinematic movements, Poetic Realism (1934-1940) and French New Wave (1950-1970), serve as historical bookends to World War II, one of the most traumatic events in world history. The Rules of the Game (Jean Renoir, 1939) is a classic example of French Poetic realism that depicts the disillusionment in society and government politics by a generation already traumatized by the monumental loss of human life during the First World War. Breathless (Jean Luc Godard, 1960), one of Jean…show more content…
Renoir exemplifies what Andre Bazin refers to as a director with faith in reality. In his essay “Evolution of the Language of Cinema”, Bazin contrasts the heavy editing and choppy style of the Soviet montage tradition with Renoir who “uncovered the secret of a film form that would permit everything to be said without chopping the world up into little fragments, that would reveal the hidden meaning in people and things without disturbing the unity natural to them” (38). Realism, in this sense, means showing long continuous shots without manipulation through editing and cross cutting--- to tell a story in the same form as if it were unfolding in the real world. Renoir plays with the idea of the formative and imaginary “farce” of the societal world by staging these formative traditions within the editing conventions of realism. This integration of a lyrical and poetic story within the poignant critique of a dark reality can be seen during the hunting scene, which intersperses documentary style footage of animals throughout. The complexity of this scene requires the active attention of the audience and demands a closer look at the realities behind societies’ farce, which resulted in audience rioting in theaters when the movie was first released. In this way, Renoir successfully
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