A brief history of French Cinema

France continued to be at the cutting edge throughout the infancy of Cinema. Georges Méliès made a series of unprecedented Science Fiction films in the early 20th Century. Le Voyage Dans La Lune and his other short films have a visionary fin de siècle aesthetic that has resonated with audiences and film makers to this day. Already France was developing a reputation for the experimental, personal film making that would come to define its cinema. Take Abel Gance’s six hour epic Napoleon which featured avant-garde techniques such a triptych split screen that still dazzle. Jean Vigo made similarly radical and idiosyncratic films such as Zéro de conduite and L’Atlante.

A key figure in the '30s and beyond was Jean Renoir. The son of the Impressionist painter, Renoir quickly gained recognition for his humanistic, elegant films like the anti-war La Grande Illusion and the country house classic La Règle du Jeu.


During WWII, film production understandably suffered. However, a Fascist Occupation did not deter Marcel Carne from filming one of the great French classics, Les Enfants Du Paradis, using members of the French Resistance as extras as to hide them in plain sight from the Nazis.


In the 50s, a French cinema magazine named Cahiers du Cinéma emerged as the leading light in serious film criticism and theory. Their writers had a huge influence on the way cinema was analysed and appreciated, not least through their development of the Auteur theory. The Auteur theory proposes that the director is the author (auteur) of the film much like a novelist is to their novel – a controversial idea due to film’s inherent collaborative aspect. The Cahiers critics  (Francois Truffant, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette and others) then emerged as film directors themselves, their films deconstructing the Hollywood genre pictures they adored with infectious passion and verve, along with Gallic existentialism and technical experimentation. Thus the French “New Wave” was born with films like À bout de souffle, Le Quatre Cent Coups and Jules Et Jim having a huge impact on world cinema and culture.


The radicalism of the New Wave was eventually subsumed into the mainstream. It remains in the tendency of modern French cinema to provoke and shun convention, as in the films of Gaspar Noe or Leo Carax. French cinema in the 80s also provided breakaway successes such as Jean De Florette and an international star in Gerard Depardieu. Their cinema remains highly successful and respected, with French-majority films taking a record €468 Million overseas in 2017. The French Government continues to support the French film industry (with policies such as VAT reductions on cinema tickets) in ways UK cinema could only dream of.  


Vivre le difference!



120 BPM

Tuesday 23rd October, 7.15pm The Rex Cinema, Wareham £7, £5.50 students and under 25s


A Journey through French Cinema

Sunday 14th October, 6.45pm The Rex Cinema, Wareham £10 (includes a drink & nibbles)


Anything for Her (Pour Elle)

Thursday 18th October, 6.00pm The Rex Cinema, Wareham £7, £5.50 students and under 25s


Faces Places (Visages Villages)

Wednesday 24th October, 5.45pm Lighthouse, Poole £9, £6.50 students, £8 senior


I…as in Icarus

Wednesday 24th October, 8.30pm The Rex Cinema, Wareham £7, £5.50 students and under 25s



The Hole  (Le Trou)

Thursday 18th October, 8.15pm The Rex Cinema, Wareham £7, £5.50 students and under 25s

TheTruth (La Vérité)

Wednesday 24th October, 5.45pm Lighthouse, Poole £7, £5.50 students and under 25s


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