I recently watched Godard’s Breathless, and I’ve always been a fan of Francois Truffaut- two of the the pioneers of the French new wave cinema. This was the time when the French style of film-making was knitted with Italian neorealism and classical Hollywood cinema. After the second world war, France was undergoing some economic troubles, but this didn’t stop the talented young directors who used all that they had available, to channel their artistic visions directly to the theatre. This movement started in late 1950s and lasted to the mid of 60s.
Many of the French new wave films were often shot in a friend’s apartment or yard, using friends as the cast and crew. Directors were also forced to improvise with equipment (for example, using a shopping cart for tracking shots). The cost of film was a major concern- thus, efforts to save film turned into stylistic innovations- for example, in Breathless, to restrict the length of the film, Godard removed several scenes from the feature using jump cuts, which is probably the greatest cinematic innovation of the 60s.
Many modern directors have borrowed heavily from the French new wave, including Altman, Tarantino, Coppola, De Palma and Scorsese. A recent film Eternal sunshine of a spotless mind, that borrowed heavily from the new wave, is much to my surprise, brilliant!