Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Beauty is truth etc

To the BFI over the weekend for the last in the Nouvelle Vague season. There is much that could be said about the movement – plenty of technical stuff about the art of film-making for those who enjoy making beautiful things tedious – but I like the winning simplicity of Adam Thirlwell's argument that it is about youthful joie de vivre.

As an illustration here's an equally winning scene, Anna Karina (any excuse) and Jean-Paul Belmondo in Pierrot Le Fou. (Female readers please note, I'm afraid you really do have to look like that to hope to get away with being so irritating. Even then, it'll eventually drive most chaps to a state where they want to shoot you and then wrap sticks of dynamite round their heads).

Because for all that joyful exuberance, many of the greatest Nouevelle Vague films end up with a girl dead in her prime (not always at the hands of men, either, in Jules et Jim it is the femme who proves fatale). That's the thing about youthful exuberance, it cannot last. But ars longa, vita brevis; this cinematic movement's real achievement was, in the manner of a cinematic freeze frame, to capture a sense of it for eternity. There's something purely Keatsian about it:

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearièd,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting, and for ever young.

EDITED: Finally got the actual video up now

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