The Third French Republic 1870-1940. Part 13

Zoom lecture



 18 May 2022

The Left Bank group:

Avant-Garde French cinema 1954-1963

with Sylvie Koneski



The Left Bank Group of filmmakers of the 1950s - Agnes Varda, Alain Resnais and Chris Marker -has been unjustly overlooked in the history of European cinema, because its existence was chronologically concurrent with, and thus overshadowed by, the most famous of all movements in the past sixty years of cinema, the French New Wave.


Resnais’ close relationship to the Nouveau Roman (New Novel) literary movement, led by Marguerite Duras and Alain Robbe-Grillet, influenced much of his narrative experimentation in Hiroshima mon amour (1959) and L’Année dernière à Marienbad (Last Year at Marienbad, 1961).


Marker, was a writer and novelist as well as a filmmaker, famous for his exquisitely constructed and highly literary voice-over commentaries in La Jetée (The Pier, 1962) and Le Joli mai (The Lovely May, 1963).


Varda was the only woman director in either the Left- or Right-Bank groups. She is since regarded as one of the most important female directors in the world. She made her first feature, La Pointe Courte in 1954 (later championed by Georges Sadoul as the first film of the French New Wave) and her best-known feature film, Cléo de 5 à 7 (Cleo from 5 to 7) in 1961.


Along with the New Wave and the Left Bank came a group of uncategorized French filmmakers who belonged to neither film movement and whose films brought both modernity and originality: Roger Vadim’s scandalous Et Dieu créa la femme (And God created Woman, 1956) starring Brigitte Bardot,and Louis Malle’s noir masterpiece, Ascenseur pour l’échafaud, (Elevator to the Gallows, 1958) starring Jeanne Moreau with a haunting musical score by Miles Davis.

Jean-Louis Trintignant & Brigitte Bardot in Roger Vadim’s scandalous Et Dieu créa la femme, 1956.

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