The times they are a changing… And so has the moving image, from its inception in the late 19th century to the modern Internet age. Sean Martin’s New Waves in Cinema discusses cinematic pioneers from across the globe – the generations of filmmakers who departed from the conservatism of studio convention – and shows the way that new trends became a means of reinterpreting cinema.
The majority of the book explores the cinematic movements that redefined the manner in which many films were created and distributed to re-emphasise new political, social and cultural perspectives for their age. Although perhaps the term ‘New Wave’ immediately conjures up images for cinephiles of Jean Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg traversing the streets of Paris, movements in cinema actually started many years previously and Martin explores such forebears as German Expressionism, Soviet Formalism and Italian Neorealism. The French New Wave, as epitomised by such directors as Godard and Truffaut, is given as much emphasis as the British, Italian, German, Czech and ‘New Hollywood’ attempts at kicking the system.
Sean Martin has a multitude of matters to address when tackling a subject of this size. Although the book states that it predominantly covers new waves from the 50s, 60s and 70s, it constantly refers to important movements before and since. Similarly, it would be impossible to cover new wave movements from all over with world in a book of this length (it would have been great to have read a detailed examination of the Japanese new wave, for example) but the book helpfully provides summaries of these other new waves in its ‘further viewing’ section. The scale of the project considers not only a hundred-plus years of cinema but a hundred-plus years of people trying to refute cinematic convention in ways that are gratifying or confrontational. The book covers an incredible depth of viewing.
New Waves in Cinema discusses the social and political developments in cinema, noting particularly how they were influenced by the times during which they were made. It combines of a number of aspects; evolution, alteration and historical recollection. These are cinema movements, some of which have defined names such as Britain’s Woodfall new wave, with its ‘kitchen sink’ films that had been slowly developing cinematically and culturally but not in a way that anyone particularly cared about at the time. Important additions include the sections on documentary re-evaluation within narrative (the book’s cover features Werner Herzog, who was not only an important director in New German movement but has since become a genius documentary maker, as well as the commentary on Chris Marker, which is exemplary) and the discussion of the development of technology in communication and visualisation, including the Dogme movement, with all its great – and not-so-great – aspects. Fortunately the book is not limited to useful and necessary historical perspective but also has questioning opinions of its own.
A fascinating exploration of new waves which discusses cinematic forward-thinking from all over the globe.