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Listening to the French New Wave

The Film Music and Composers of Postwar French Art Cinema

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Orlene Denice McMahon

As perhaps the most studied film movement in cinematic history, the French New Wave has been analysed and criticised, romanticised and mythologised, raising the question of whether it is possible to write anything new about this period. Yet there are still gaps in the scholarship, and the study of music in New Wave films is one of the most striking.
Listening to the French New Wave offers the first detailed study of the music and composers of French New Wave cinema, arguing for the need to re-hear and thus reassess this important period in film history. Combining an ethnographic approach with textual and score-based analysis, the author challenges the idea of the New Wave as revolutionary in all its facets by revealing traditional approaches to music in many canonical New Wave films. However, musical innovation does have its place in the New Wave, particularly in the films of the marginalised Left Bank group. The author ultimately brings to light those few collaborations that engaged with the ideology of adopting contemporary music practices for a contemporary medium.
Drawing on archival material and interviews with New Wave composers, this book re-tells the story of the French New Wave from the perspective of its music.
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NEW STUDIES IN EUROPEAN CINEMA

With its focus on new critical, theoretical, and cultural developments in contemporary film studies, this series develops rigorous analytical debate within an innovative, multidisciplinary, and transnational approach to European cinema.

Through a mixture of edited collections and single-authored volumes, the series aims both to re-evaluate established critical thought and to identify and explore new trends and theories that will inform cinema studies over the coming decades. It provides an international forum for lively and controversial debate embracing all aspects of European cinema from a broad range of theoretical perspectives. The New Studies in European Cinema series thus makes a key contribution to a subject whose importance to contemporary culture and identity is fundamental.

 

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