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French Cinema

French Cinema

No one doubts it. The Lumiere brothers gave birth to what may be one of the best contributions human beings can enjoy. Entertainment, denounces, documentaries, series, animation, everything we see moving on the screens is because of them, two brothers who decided to try their luck  and sought to make move the static images their father, an amateur photographer used to take.

Georges Méliès

Georges Méliès

First trials

It all begun at the end of the 19th century but historians have marked 1895 as the official year when cinematography was born. That year a film called The Arrival of a Train to La Ciotat, a short film made by the Lumière brothers, became the first ever movie in the world.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t until Georges Méliès entered to the films world that the first scripted movies were produced. Amongst his most prominent films are A Trip to the Moon, a short film made in 1902 considered to be the first science fiction movie of all times.

In the first two decades of the 20th century, French cinema became the most important across Europe and the globe, only disputing the privilege with the United States and its low cost producing capacity. In those days, Gaumont, the biggest studios in the world were in France, and produced a 6-hous epic movie about Napoleon´s life directed by the innovative Abel Gance in 1927.

The wars and their consequences

Unfortunately, the World War I consequences also touched the French film industry. Due to the strong economic depression that followed the war to recover the economies, the American films gained an important space in European and French audiences.

In order to avoid the fall of national cinema, French authorities established a law in which by every seven foreign films, a French one had to be screened on the national cinema theatres. That enforcement allowed some filmmakers like Jaques Feyder to become a pioneer of the poetic realism and the French impressionism, a genre followed by other directors such as Jean Vigo in films like The Antartid.

When the World War II was developing, the French film industry wasn’t recovered at all, and it became even harder after the Nazi invasion. However, from those though days we can enjoy Marcel Carné’s masterpiece Children of Paradise, a symbol of French nationalism that obly could be released after the war finished. The film was voted by the critics as the best ever production in French cinema.

The years between the 50s and 60s witnessed new approaches for filmmaking, with political and social glances. The most prominent directors and critics during those days were André Bazin, François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais, Agnès Varda, Jacques Demy and Claude Chabrol and amongst the best films we reckon François Truffaut’s The 400 strokes (1958),   and Jean-Pierre Melville’s The Shadows’ Army (1969) and The Samurai (1968) starring Alain Delon.

     

Children of Paradise

Children of Paradise

La Vie en Rose

La Vie en Rose

The modern times rebirth

The following years marked a new era for french cinema. By the 80, the Fashion Cinema movement took over the industry aiming to compete with the American productions that used to focus on the style and showbiz instead of the content. A noteworthy filmmaker from that era is Jean-Jacques Beineix with his movies Diva (1981) and Betty Blue (1986).

In the 90s, French cinema recovered its lost innovation. Movies such as Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children and Amelie Poulain were in front of a new wave led by the outstanding filmmaker Jean Pierre Jeunet. He combined a pioneering photography aiming to emulate comic books with perfect amounts of comedy and drama in odd situations that only make sense along the film.

Important enough, the last decade has seen a new wave of talented and award-winning actors and directors. Proving their worth, personalities such as the actress Marion Cotillard, an Oscar and BAFTA winner for La Vie en Rose and the director Xavier Beauvois, a Goya, Cesar, BAFTA and Cannes winner, have taken French cinma to the next level.

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