The Best of the New Wave

In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Breathless, Jean-Luc Godard’s classic debut, will enjoy a re-release in UK cinemas from the June 25.

Arguably one of the most influential and iconic films to come out of the French New Wave of the 1960s, Breathless sees Jean-Paul Belondo and Jean Seberg sauntering around the streets of Paris and getting into trouble. It's a surprisingly fresh and darkly funny film from the Godfather of this seminal period in cinematic history. Get Breathless, and look up these five other must-see films from the French New Wave…

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Jules and Jim (1962): Francois Truffaut’s critically acclaimed romantic drama is perhaps the most accessible film to come out of the French New Wave era. Adapted from Henri Roche’s novel, Jules and Jim follows two young, bohemian artists in the French capital between the wars, and is a compelling portrait of love and friendship.

The Cousins (1959): Claude Chabrol’s stylish ‘town mouse, country mouse’ drama was an impressive second outing for the French director. Both distinctive and impressionistic in its aesthetic, Chabrol presents an affecting study of class, power and greed.

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Fire Within (1963): Told over the course of 24 hours, Louis Malle’s powerfully unsettling film is a haunting examination of a suicidal alcoholic. Accompanied by Erik Satie's dark and sprawling score and starring the brilliant Maurice Ronet, Fire Within is a rare treat for New Wave enthusiasts.

Pierrot le fou (1965): Following a Bonnie & Clyde-esque cross-country escapade between Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina, Pierrot le fou looks at the outset like a conventional Hollywood crime thriller. But like much of Godard’s work, there are no certainties, no hardboiled facts and only questions about what you are watching.

The 400 Blows (1959): Truffaut’s stunning debut feature tells the story of 13-year-old Doinel (Jean-Pierre Leaud), a social misfit who gets himself into trouble at home and at school before winding up  in a centre for juvenile delinquents. A beautifully evocative and disquieting tale of the tenuous co-existence between the individual and society.

Words by Danielle Clark