Welcome back to A Newcomer’s Guide to La Nouvelle Vague and welcome to Issue number three – I can’t believe we’re halfway through already!
This issue features films that are a rollercoaster of emotions and of all different styles. The first film is directed by our first female director of the series – Agnes Varda – in 1962, Cleo from 5 to 7, in which the story ends happily rather than sadly, which is rare to see in French New Wave films, but a nice change of pace. The next film in our lineup is La Jetée directed by Chris Marker in 1962. This movie is entirely composed out of still photos and takes on an eerie, yet exciting storyline about time travel. Our third film is The Fire Within, directed by Louis Malle, and takes a deep dive into dark waters as the film portrays the life of a man by the name of Alain Leroy who wants to find a reason to live. Please read at your own risk if you are dealing with harmful thoughts yourself, as I will be discussing topics of depression and suicide in this one. Lastly, the final film in Issue #3 is The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, directed by Jacques Demy in 1964, which brings us back up into the light, is full of singing —and when I say singing, I mean the entire film is sung— and is also full of bright colors. It is an amazing end to to this lineup!
Each film takes us through emotional stories about happiness, death, and absence. I loved The Fire Within even though it is the most intimate and saddest film we have covered so far. The film portrays very important messages about your friends and family, and depression, but presents the feeling in a sensible, educated light. These four films successfully showcase the wide spectrum of different genres and styles during this movement. Films could range from neorealism, like The Fire Within, to science fiction, like La Jetée, and everything in between. While there are techniques that are common throughout French New Wave films (i.e. long shots) there is no right or wrong way to use them. The New Wave directors, such as Demy, show us that film can become an incredible creative outlet when there are no boundaries to what can be constructed when there is passion to make the vision come true.