Join The French New Wave With Cléo

Join The French New Wave With Cléo

Static Mass Rating: 4/5

Release Date: Oct 11th, 2010
Certificate: PG
Running Time: 90 minutes

Director: Agnes Varda

Cast: Corinne Marchand, Antoine Bourseiller, Dominique Davray, Dorothee Blank, Michael Legrande, Jose-Luis de Villalonga, Loye Payen, Renee Duchateau, Lucienne Marchand, Serge Korber, Robert Postec

Language: French with English subtitles

During the German occupation of Paris in WWII (1940-1944), the city had very little to offer which did not include blackouts, curfews, shortages and propaganda. With little over 200 films produced by French filmmakers in the entire time the occupation lasted, they still had to be approved by German censors before being released. For those who had grown up in the 20’s and 30’s and seen the great westerns, musicals and science fiction epics that Weimar, Hollywood and the French film industry had produced, cinema during the occupation was a bleak time.

French New Wave Cinema, although never officially organised movement, was born after the Liberation by the Allied Forces. When the ban on American films was lifted, cinemagoers were treated to all what they had been missing. Fuelled by a passion for freedom of expression, François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Éric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Rivette and André Bazin were critiquing the films in the magazine Cahiers du cinéma and began to formulate their own ways of applying philosophy not to only to movies but to the world. The “concept of the auteur” was developed whereby a film would be seen as a director’s own philosophy and vision. This was in contrast to earlier ideas in which the screenwriter or the producer was seen to be the visionary.

Disappointed by their own movies at the time and realising that in order to the see they films they wanted, they would have to begin making them themselves. Agnès Varda is one of the filmmakers who would be associated with New Wave, but her movies offer more in the way of the Rive Gauche (Left Bank) cinema movement, focusing on documentary realism, feminist issues, and social commentary.

This is evident in Cléo, a film filled with many details and glimpses into the lives of Parisians at the time. As a social backdrop, there is also the Algerian War and the idea that Cléo, like Paris itself, is in the midst of something terrible happening. Cléo as a person is entirely self focused and spends a lot of her time looking into mirrors but never really sees herself. While riding in a taxi, news of the Algerian massacre plays on the radio but she barely notices, only when she hears her own song playing, again, reflecting on herself.


  • Memories & Anecdotes
  • Madonna & Agnès speak about Cleo
  • Cleo’s Time-Lapse Trajectory
  • Subject of the Engaged
  • Fiancés on the Bridge
  • Cariatides of Paris

Beautifully filmed and thought provoking for its historical and social context, Cléo From 5 To 7 is a notable entry in the list of Left Bank films which also include other classics like La Pointe Courte, Hiroshima mon amour, Last Year at Marienbad, and Trans-Europ-Express.

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