Shot in 1964, this film is a beautiful time capsule of the French New Wave in action.
Probably the most important post-war film movement, "la Nouvelle Vague" revitalized cinema all over the world. In a departure from the basic rule of the Cinema, of Our Time series, which tends to focus on a particular film director, THE NEW WAVE BY ITSELF looks at the entire movement.
Henri Langlois (co-founder of the Cinémathèque Française) provides a charming introduction, and all of the most important directors are here, including Claude Chabrol, Jacques Démy, Georges Franju, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, Jean Rouch, François Truffaut, and Agnès Varda.
With clips from many of their most important films, they discuss how they managed to make their first films (and in some cases, how they helped each other), as well the impulses or motivations behind their approach to filmmaking. Varda talks about wanting to make films that were not pleasant to watch, but that were thought provoking, and Godard talks of wanting to destroy the clichés, rules and myths of commercial French cinema.
Of course after the huge initial successes of 1959 and 1960 (The 400 Blows, Hiroshima Mon Amour, Breathless), by 1964 the movement was struggling. Truffaut, Rivette and Godard all discuss the "failure" of the New Wave.
Beginning and ending with Godard on the set directing a sequence from Band of Outsiders, THE NEW WAVE BY ITSELF is a priceless record of the time, place and people who invented modern cinema.
"Highly Recommended! The interviews are lucid and helpful, giving a good picture of the early days of the New Wave (the unending financial problems, the scramble to acquire filmmaking skills, the shooting on location, the inexpensive equipment that produced a raw visual style and sometimes necessitated dubbing) and elaborating on the ideas that typified the movement. The filmmakers return several times to the notions of inventiveness, amateurism, improvisation, serendipity, realism, the documentary impulse, and rule-breaking that informed so much of their work... When talk turns to the failures of the New Wave, the interviewees are, again, objective and well-spoken, pointing to the technical incompetence, pretension, and unrelenting pessimism that sometimes dogged the movement. A well-made and useful documentary."—Educational Media Reviews Online