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French New Wave Impact in Woody Allen Movie

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Woody Allen has come to be known as one of the most important filmmakers in the film industry, as well as one of the best director along with his films known for their personalised approach. His movie talks about existence, morality and love with a very humorous quality. His list of honours for his work is a lengthy one; it includes 5 Oscar wins, 24 nominations, as well as the number one spot on the WGA’s list of 101 funniest screenplays (Annie Hall) (Renee 2015). Allen’s subjects are very much influenced by French new wave, a movement that occurred in the 1960s of France in the style of unconventional camera movements, with characters of author types, and invisible film editing, to breaking the fourth wall. The viewer of Woody Allen’s movies is totally charmed with his depiction of the elitist group of the society, where the most respected one sometimes turn out to be the most affected, and along these lines, the juxtaposition of an intellectual and an ignoramus often results in extreme hilarity (REFERENCE).

From being the primary topic of conversations, both serious and happy, of his characters to a major cause behind making and breaking of relationships (an important ingredient of his movies), art and rationality are required to the movies. In short, Woody Allen movies are humorous, deep and greatly enjoyable for they are such a clear window to the mind of a very interesting person like Woody Allen. His movies are presented, at least in part, in form of narratives mostly with Woody Allen himself as the narrator. Makes the audience feels like looking at life from his perspective for those 2 hours or so, concentrating on the inside monologue of the characters and overlooking outward details. This resembles the concept that was created in French New Wave era known as la camera-stylo that literally means the director should use their camera the same way a writer would use their pen (REFERENCE). Auteur Theory is a method of looking at films that express that the director is the “author” of a film. The Auteur theory argues that a film is a reflection of the director’s artistic vision so, a movie directed by a given filmmaker will have recognisable, repeating topics and visual lines that inform the audience who the director is and shows a consistent artistic personality throughout that director’s filmography (REFERENCE).

The term “Auteur theory” is credited to the critics of the French film journal Cahiers du cinéma, many of which became the directors of the French New Wave (Indie Film Hustle 2017). One factor that stands out with Woody Allen’s own visual style that really personalises his films are first, his type of comedy. Woody concentrates on sarcasm typically they’re silly (Love and Death, Sleeper), sometimes witty (Love and Death), most of the times based on relationships, sex and lifestyle majorly in American society. Aside from being funny, they’re very powerful, always showering opinions on complicated situations or concepts in a funny way. Second, Woody Allen movies always have a complicated relationship. Woody’s romantic stories are never ‘one life, or one love types. Characters fall in love, break up, have other affairs, regret or feel nostalgic about past relationships (REFERENCE). For example, Woody Allen’s film Vicky Cristina Barcelona is similar to the character in Jules and Jim which is a representative work of the French New Wave. The difference is that the former is a story of two men falling in love with one woman whereas the latter is a story about three women loving one man. Third, Woody Allen’s stories nearly always revolve around a higher middle-class society of America, especially of New York. Main characters are often intellectual, nihilistic or cynical, and atheistic, with one central character basically similar to Woody’s personality, many times portrayed by Woody himself. Lastly, he sometimes encloses a beautiful portrayal of cities. The opening scene from Manhattan and Midnight in Paris are the typical example. 690 Different from all classical Hollywood films, French New Wave films tend to break the rules of continuity editing and using free editing style. The directors of French New Wave often drew attention from audiences by discontinuity, with result that the audience become more conscious they are watching a movie (REFERENCE). Which have been well represented in Woody Allen’s movie.

For instance, from it’s very first shot, Annie Hall clearly attracts rhetorical qualities from the films of the French New Wave. Allen stands in front of the camera, centre frame, and addresses the audience as if he were in the same room. Using this as the opening shot breaks down the fourth wall, and reminds audiences that they are watching a film. The technique removes the sense of disbelief related to the cinema and makes the film a more personal experience between the audience and the filmmaker. This is a common stylistic convention within French New Wave cinema. In Truffaut’s The 400 Blows (1959), the famous last shot depicts the young Antoine as he turns from the beach and looks directly into the camera, as the film holds a haunting freeze frame. Woody Allen uses a split screen two times in the film, each time to illustrate the differences between Annie’s waspy mind and Alvy’s Jewish mind. The contrast and interplay are the two most significant components within the scene. The spaces appear to be totally different and opposing and the people occupying them have different opinions about what is being mentioned. To serve this importance, Allen made the choice to create the split scene (Parton 2014). In the same movie, he uses subtitles to point out the thoughts going through the mind of the characters.

The first scene of Hannah and her sisters, the audience showed a black screen with a title that says “God is beautiful” ” followed by a close up of a beautiful woman standing in the doorway and follow her as she talks with the guests in a party. Then it cuts to a middle-aged man who is narrating his feelings for her. In the same film, Woody attempts suicide and somehow hates the idea and gets out “…I just need to put my thoughts in a rational perspective…” (REFERENCE). All of these editing styles are the resemblance of the playfulness and unorthodox concept that were always applied by the French New Wave directors. The directors of French New Wave had admired the Neorealists especially Rossellini, and in opposition to studio filmmaking, they decided to shoot on location. They replaced the shiny studio light with natural and available light. Thus, the French New Wave films always look natural, casual, and easy going (Make a Wave-French New Wave 2012). Woody Allen movies demonstrate just how much one can accomplish with no or very little budget. They often play out like filmed stage plays, with long wide shots where the camera winds around and follows the character’s dialogue back and forth which is a plain technique to shoot, making the audience barely feel the presence of the camera. For example, Midnight in Paris presents the character wandering the streets at midnight. The end of the Blue Jasmine presents disheartened Jasmine lost in the streets. Such pictures are natural and realistic, mostly using natural light and background noise to mix the picture and sound harmoniously, reflecting the occasional creation style (REFERENCE).

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