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MFCO314 French Cinema

Selected topics in French cinema since 1945.

If we believe many of the directors of French new wave cinema (from roughly 1959-64), then we might be mistaken for thinking that they single-handedly pulled France out of its post-war depression and proved that it could, again, compete on the world stage as a modern nation. Such was the 'myth' of the French new wave.

In this paper we focus tightly upon the five years in which Varda, Truffaut, Godard and Resnais burst upon the scene. We examine the claims they made: that jumpcuts and hand-held camerawork, Parisian streets and existential angst could innovate, rejuvenate and generally change Paris - France - the world! In so doing we consider how innovation and change happen on screen and the extraordinary capacity that cinema has for communicating within and across national boundaries.

Paper title French Cinema
Paper code MFCO314
Subject Media, Film and Communication
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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18 200-level MFCO or FIME points
FIME 304
Schedule C
Arts and Music
Teaching staff

Associate Professor Catherine Fowler

Paper Structure
The paper is divided between two topics:
  • First, through a focus on the context of post-war France, we investigate the 'myth of the new wave'
  • Second, we shift our focus from France to Europe and from contexts to texts to examine issues with wider relevance to European cinemas: stars, realism, modernism, gender and counter-cinema
  • Group Presentation 30%
  • Essay 50%
  • Exam 20%
Course reader
Course outline

View a sample course outline for MFCO 314

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Communication, Critical thinking, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the paper will:

  • Demonstrate sophisticated understanding of the significant contextual elements that brought about change in the new wave period
  • Be able to analyse the 'myth' of the French new wave as it has been created through film literature
  • Use close textual analysis to compare and contrast 'innovation' in selected film of the French new wave period
  • Discuss and apply in a wider context key concepts in European cinema, such as authorship, realism, modernism and counter-cinema

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Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system