Friday, 2 July 2010
Two in the Wave
"An anniversary present for the new wave" Village Voice
Two in the Wave
"A powerful reminder of just how exciting that work remains..The films of Truffaut and Mr Godard stand or fall by themselves, but together they made history." The New York Times
As part of its First Look program this August, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) will screen Emmanuel Laurent's documentary Two in the Wave (Deux de la Vague) (2010).
Two in the Wave recounts the fractious friendship between the two auteurs Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard. Both were initially united personally and professionally by their mutual love of cinema after meeting at a film club in Paris in 1949.
The film fittingly made its world premiere at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival - 50 years after Truffaut's feature film debut The 400 Blows (Les quatre cents coups) (1959) won him a Best Director award in 1959. The 400 Blows is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age film featuring Jean-Pierre Léaud in his first film role as the adolescent Antoine Doinel. Léaud became not only an icon of the French New Wave but a muse to both filmmakers and in this film could be considered the "third" in the "wave".
One year later, Godard's debut Breathless (À bout de soufflé) (1960) made its premiere at Cannes bursting onto the film scene with its jazzy, free-form, and sexy homage to American gangster films. After their successful debuts at Cannes, Truffaut and Godard continued to work closely together through the 1960s, loyally supporting each other in their private and professional lives.
The film chronicles the fissure between Godard and Truffaut that came as the result of the May 1968 protests, in which both filmmakers demonstrated to reinstate Henri Langlois as head of Cinémathèque Française, which led to the cancellation of the Cannes Film Festival that year. It also anticipated the revolutionary moment of Paris 1968 by three months.
Godard soon announced that filmmaking's ends should always be political, while Truffaut maintained his art-for-art's-sake stance. The falling out was completed with Truffaut's apolitical film-about-filmmaking Day for Night (La nuit américaine) (1973). Godard wrote a letter to Truffaut condemning Day for Night and enclosing an equally vicious letter to Léaud. Truffaut responded with a letter accusing his former friend of among other things of "acting like a shit". The two cut off all communication after that but continued their prolific careers that both challenged and defined cinema.
Film Programmer Kristy Matheson says, "Emmanuel Laurent's new documentary is an absolute joy to watch for all fans of the New Wave and makes for a welcome introduction for those yet to be entranced by this cinematic movement."
Two in the Wave uses rarely seen archival footage, personal records and photographs as well as film excerpts to tell the story of these two legendary figures and the rise and fall of a friendship that embodies the story of French cinema. Film academic and Truffaut and Godard biographer Antoine de Baecque provides the informative scripting and narration.
Two in the Wave plays as part of ACMI's First Look program from Thursday 12 to Sunday 15 August. For sessions details click here.
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