13

The French New Wave and Its Native Context

THE OCCUPATION AND POSTWAR
CINEMA

During the German Occupation of France, from 1940 to 1944—when Feyder, Renoir, Duvivier, and Clair were all in exile—a new generation of French directors emerged, most of whom had worked as scriptwriters or assistants under the major figures of poetic realism in the thirties. * Claude Autant-Lara (b. 1903), who had worked as a designer for Marcel L'Herbier and as an assistant to Clair, directed a number of sophisticated period films during the Occupation, including Le Mariage de Chiffon (1942), Lettres d'amour (1942), and the satirical Douce (1943). Autant‐ Lara's critical reputation rests most firmly, however, upon a series of stylish literary adaptations written by Jean Aurenche (1904-92) and Pierre Bost (1901-75) that he made in the postwar era—especially Le Diable au corps (The Devil in the Flesh, 1947; from the Raymond Radiguet novel), L'Auberge rouge (The Red Inn, 1951; from Aurenche), Le Blé en herbe (The Ripening Seed, 1954; from Colette), Le Rouge et le noir (The Red and the Black, 1954; from Stendhal), and Le Joueur (The Gambler, 1958; from Dostoevsky). Writing as a team, Aurenche and Bost became specialists in tightly scripted films; they also worked closely with the director René Clément (b. 1913), whose first film had been a neorealistic account of the activities of the French Resistance, La Bataille du rail (The Battle of the Rails, 1946).

Clément also codirected La Belle et la bête (Beauty and the Beast, 1946) with playwright Jean Cocteau and made the suspenseful anti-Nazi thriller Les Maudits (The Damned, 1947). But his two greatest films of the postwar era, both written by Aurenche and Bost, were the poetic

____________________
*
Perhaps the most important film event of the Occupation was the founding of the Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques (IDHEC) by Marcel L'Herbier in 1943. This governmerit-subsidized film school today offers professional training in every aspect of film production as well as in history and aesthetics. It provides certification for persons wishing to enter the French film industry, and its high standards have attracted students from all over the world. See André Bazin, French Cinema of the Occupation and Resistance, trans. Stanley Hochman (New York: Ungar, 1981); see also, Evelyn Ehrlich, Cinema of Paradox: French Filmmaking Under the German Occupation (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985); and Edward Lowry, The Filmology Movement and Film Study in France (Ann Arbor, Mich.: UMI Research Press, 1985).
Remade in separate versions by the Australian director Scott Murray in 1985 and the Italian director Marco Bellocchio in 1986.

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