Saturday, February 12, 2011

Melville on Nouvelle

Jean Pierre Melville's relationship with the young turks that became the French New Wave started well but then became a bit frosty. Even though he had a bit part in Godard's À bout de souffle he was always an outsider and more of a paternal figure to the movement. But by the time Cahiers du cinéma magazine savaged Le Samouraï and L' Armée des ombres [which is amazing when you think about it because it is so outrageously political] he had turned on them as much as they had on him.

The Cinema One book Melville on Melville by Rui Nogueira has this exchange:
Q: What do you think of the Nouvelle Vague style?
A: There's no such thing. The Nouvelle Vague was an inexpensive way of making films. That's all.

You have to admit that - as influential as the movement was to world cinema - in France it was indeed a series of lower budget films made by a wave of new directors that managed for a while to get more attention than the directors of the bigger budgeted films.  But eventually some of the Nouvelle Vague directors came into the fold.

It's too bad they had a falling out because in retrospect the cinema of Melville is as good and significant in its own way as the cinema of Godard, Truffaut, Chabrol and Rivette.

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