Date of Award

12-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

History

Advisor

Dr. Alan Grubb

Committee Member

Dr. James Burns

Committee Member

Dr. H. Roger Grant

Abstract

During the late 1950's the French film industry's hard-won financial stability during the Occupation and liberation years had all but disappeared. Combined with the dwindling, unpredictable nature of French audiences, the multi-star, literary adaptation dramas French studios produced were no longer reliable. In response to these dilemmas a transformation took place in French cinema. Known as the nouvelle vague (or French New Wave), the movement was largely, but not completely, a reaction to France's declining film industry. The nation as a whole was undergoing significant change and growth during the 1950s. From the Algerian conflict, the Fourth Republic's collapse and the return of Charles de Gaulle to the Americanization of France and the emergence of increased consumerism, the political climate and cultural context of France in the 1950's is equally as important as the situation of France's film industry in explaining the congruence of circumstances that produced the nouvelle vague. This essay will examine these underlying causes and their ability to influence cultural conceptions before going on to examine the two directors seen to spearhead this movement, Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, whose friendship began in the ciné-clubs of postwar France. Both men contributed heavily to the revolution taking place in cinema during the late fifties, which provided a foundation for the modern cinema. Unlike their films and theories, their relationship and rapport has failed to be fully examined. Truffaut and Godard, their close personal and professional relationship and its eventual disintegration was ultimately the result of the ideological conflicts of the period which had, as a result, not only the calamity of a friendship but their different approaches to filmmaking.

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