Film Movements and historical moments

The Big Heat  (1953, Fritz Lang)

The Big Heat (1953, Fritz Lang)

While the menacing male protagonists and femmes fatale cemented Film Noir into the foundation of post-WWII cinema, the origins of these cynical crime dramas lead back to the earliest days of cinema itself. Combining the dramatic chiaroscuro lighting and bold black-and-white cinematography from German Expressionism with the seedy pulp novels of The Great Depression and early "policier" films from France's Poetic Realism movement, Film Noir provided an aesthetic response to post-war pessimism and the anxieties of a post-war world. . .

As Italy's Fascist government began to disintegrate and World War II spiraled toward its conclusion, the Italian film industry scrambled to further their nation's rich cinematic history. While their largest film studios rested in piles of rubble, Italy's most vibrant auteurs changed the language of their national cinema to focus on the plight of the common man and woman in the midst of daily life. Characterized by on-location shooting and non-professional actors, these low-budget social films started a movement known as Italian neorealism. . .

Bicycle Thieves  (1948, Vittorio De Sica)

Bicycle Thieves (1948, Vittorio De Sica)

Breathless  (1960, Jean-Luc Godard)

Breathless (1960, Jean-Luc Godard)

After World War II, a group of young French cinephiles - François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Rivette, and Éric Rohmer - marveled at the masterpieces of world cinema within the shadowy sanctuary of The Cinémathèque Française. Under the leadership of theorist André Bazin, these aspiring filmmakers advanced film theory and criticism at Cahiers du Cinéma throughout the 1950s. As the 1950s progressed, the young film journalists decided to put their words into action, starting a film movement that would change cinema forever - The French New Wave. . .

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