Almost all cinema-making nations were blasted by a ‘new wave’ in the 50s and 60s. World War II was over, austerity was in, and this made Europe’s auteurs turn their cameras to the gritty reality around them.
In this milieu, France somehow stood apart — its nouvelle vague was led, oddly enough, by critics-turned-filmmakers. Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut and Claude Chabrol wrote for the magazine Cahiers du Cinéma (Notebooks on Cinema) before going on to roll their own reels. They had another passion in common: Cinémathèque Française, the archival and screening centre.
This weekend, these two spark plugs of modern French cinema will come together in Delhi. Serge Toubiana, former critic for Cahiers and current director-general of the Cinémathèque is in the Capital rolling off a festival of new wave films. Here are our picks from the schedule, one for each day.
Lift to the Scaffold by Louis Malle (Saturday, 7.15 pm): As Julien stays trapped in a lift after having killed his lover’s husband, a bizarre chain of events implicates him in more crimes.
Jules and Jim by François Truffaut (Sunday, 9.15 pm): A modern ménage à trois based on the lives the story’s writer Henri-Pierre Roché, Surrealist artist Marcel Duchamp and Dadaist potter Beatrice Wood. The finale stuns.
Handsome Serge by Claude Chabrol (Monday, 9.15 pm): Considered the first film of the nouvelle vague. François returns to his village and sees that the lives of the people, especially his friend Serge, have taken a dive.