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.
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2014. 295 pp., 43 b/w ill.
«For film scholars and students, this volume can add a layer of nuanced sophistication to any reading of New Wave cinema»
(Kim Harrison, H-France Review, Vol.15, no.124)
«McMahon navigates her way effectively through the complex patterns
of collaboration between filmmakers and composers, showing a clear grasp of the technical aspects of the process, and provides
a very satisfying overview of an extremely rich period of French cinematic and musical creation.» (Peter Hawkins, French
Studies, Vol. 69, no. 3, July 2015).