December 16, 2009

On the Left Bank Group

"Clouzet considers the Left Bank group, 'not as a faction of the New Wave, but, rather, as a distinct group in opposition to it'. Clouzot’s is a literary emphasis; she takes 'authorship' literally in her discussions to mean the 'essentially novelistic preoccupations with time, memory, narration, and form that characterise the group.' It is, for Clouzot, that the Left Bank directors are to be seen as authors more than auteurs, as they were more concerned with responding to the traditions of literature and the nouveau roman (new novel), than with responding to the history of cinema: whereas the Right Bank-Cahiers directors are well known for being primarily critics and cinéphiles, and for their work being a response to the prevailing tradition of French cinema, labelled by the Cahiers group as, 'le cinéma de papa' or 'old fogeys’ cinema'. As shall be seen when discussing the films of the Left Bank group, Clouzot is quite right to foreground the literary preoccupations of the group, and to see it as one of the most important defining features: Marker, a writer and novelist as well as a filmmaker, famous for his exquisitely constructed and highly literary voice-over commentaries; Varda, for whom the Jean Astruc’s idea of the caméra-stylo (camera pen) is highly important, as is her own notion of cinécriture (cinematic writing); and Resnais, whose first two, and most important, feature films were collaborations with two of France’s most important new novelists, Marguerite Duras and Alain Robbe-Grillet."

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