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The French film industry had its beginnings in the 19th century, with the 50-second long motion picture by the Lumière brothers' 'The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station' screened in 1895. French cinema, famous for its artistic yet realistic depictions and storylines, has been held in high regard since its inception.
The French film industry, known for causing waves and stepping out of traditional methods, has always brought major changes to the industry, expanding its horizons.
The French New Wave, or Nouvelle Vague, was a widely known movement of the '50s, started by the French with the aim of rejecting and changing traditional filmmaking. Known popularly as the seventh art, French cinema gained its position as the seventh art through an Italian thinker named Ricciotto Canudo, who mentioned five arts: music, poetry, architecture, painting, and sculpture. Dance was supposed to be the sixth art, so when films started emerging and gaining popularity, they automatically got considered for the seventh place. The importance of French film history is undeniable, and here are some interesting facts about French cinemas.
If you enjoyed reading this article, you must also check out these French cheese facts and French foreign legion facts here at Kidadl.
The history of French cinema is a long one. Beginning with the Lumiere Brothers, Auguste and Louise invented the Cinématographe, the device used for early cinematography, as well as the first French film.
Other filmmakers, directors, and companies quickly established themselves alongside the Lumieres, such as Georges Milies, who is known for his creative and innovative approach to cinematography and other techniques, as well as for creating the first science fiction film, 'A Trip to the Moon', in 1902.
After the First World War, French cinema suffered greatly due to a lack of funds. It was at this time that the American film industry found a firm footing in the European market. Since France and most of Europe were fond of film watching, French and European produced films were expensive. American films, on the other hand, were cheap to watch. Eventually, quotas were placed to gradually bring back French films to the main lane.
As a predecessor to the New Wave, several amazing films were directed and produced in France that crossed the boundaries of traditional cinematic expectations and went above and beyond in terms of cinematic visuals, editing, sound work, ideas, and more. A particularly important figure of this time was the French director Jean Renoir, who in 1937 directed La Grande Illusion and in 1939 directed 'La Regle du Jeu', which has been dubbed as the greatest film of all time by film critics.
After World War II, several film critics, including the very famous Jean-Luc Godard, went on to direct many films themselves, thereby giving way to the Nouvelle Vague. Godard’s film 'Breathless', starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, was one of the first films of this revolutionary era. Other critics who also followed this path included Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer, who were also critics of the Cahiers du Cinema.
Some of the most popular actors in French cinema include Jean-Paul Belmondo, who became popular after his performance in Godard’s 'Breathless', Jean-Pierre Leaud, known for his acting in Truffaut’s 'The 400 Blows'.
Another well-known French director and actor, Jean-Pierre Melville, and French filmmaker Robert Bresson, are also famous names that grew in reputation as contemporary directors during the New Wave. This was also the time when French movie stars and French directors started getting noticed and accredited abroad. Actors like Catherine Deneuve, Jeanne Moreau, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Alain Delon, and many more received global fame. Director Louis Malle worked for both French cinema and Hollywood.
The exclusive Cannes Film Festival, which is held every year in France and was founded in 1946, is a major contribution to the film industry. It was initially created to compete with the Venice Film Festival, which was the only, and perhaps the only unbiased, international film festival at the time. The purpose of this film festival was to celebrate world cinema.
French contributions to the film industry, however, do not end here. The New Wave, for example, played a vital role in the introduction of new mediums of film-making and displaying on the silver screen. Films, as we know them today, owe a lot of their early beginnings to the French, who used their creative ideas to indulge the growing middle class and show them a new world using depictions of grand cafés and glamour in everyday life.
The Festival du Film Merveilleux is another international film festival, held in Paris, France. This film festival focuses on short films and film ecology. Started in 2010, this film festival has gained massive popularity in a short time.
The French cinema industry is the most successful in Europe.
The main distributors of French cinema, also known popularly as Cinema of France, are Warner Bros Studios, 20th Century Studios, which are owned by the Walt Disney Company, and UGC, which is a European Cinema Distribution Company.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for ever-so curious French cinema facts that you need to know!, then why not take a look at learn all about the difference between coniferous and deciduous trees, or different types of herbs that all chefs will absolutely adore.
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