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In 1959- early 1960 five directors released debut feature length films that are widely regarded as heralding the start of the French nouvelle vague or French New Wave Claude Chabrols Le Beau Serge The Good Serge 1959 and Les Cousins The Cousins 1959 were released along with Francois Truffauts Les Quatre cents coups The 400 Blows 1959 Jean-Luc Godards A bout de souffle Breathless 1960 and Alain Resnais Hiroshima mon amour Hiroshima my love 1959 These films were the beginning of a revolution in French cinema In the following years these directors were to follow up their debuts while other young directors made their first features in fact between 1959-63 over 170 French directors made their debut films These films were very different to anything French and American cinema had ever produced both in film style and film form and would change the shape of cinema to come for years To understand how and why this nouvelle vague happened we must first look at the historical social economical and political aspects of France and the French film industry leading up to the onset of the nouvelle vague After the Second World War much of Europe was in ruins 35 million people had died and most European countries were hugely in debt 1947s Marshall plan saw billions of American dollars poured into Europe in the form of aid to help Europe rebuild Along with this vast amount of aid came American expectations of political allegiance The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation NATO was born a military alliance which committed members to oppose the USSR and Communism This American influence extended into many aspects of society including the Film industry During the war years the flow of films from Hollywood into Europe had been drastically reduced After the war the Americans were keen to expand again into Europe The Motion Picture Export Association of America was formed Hollywood formed this organisation to co-ordinate exports and to present a
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