Whilst France was under under occupation by the Nazis during UsefulNotes/{{WWII}}, the screening of American movies was illegal. When the war was over, French cinemas were flooded with films by directors such as Creator/AlfredHitchcock, Creator/JohnFord and Creator/OrsonWelles, and they were consumed eagerly by French film critics. In 1951, the film journal ''Cahiers du Cinéma'' was established. The authors of this journal - including Creator/FrancoisTruffaut, [[Creator/JeanLucGodard Jean-Luc Godard]], Creator/JacquesRivette, Creator/ClaudeChabrol and Creator/EricRohmer - would watch each of the films by one of the aforementioned directors, and identify common themes and stylistic choices within their opuses (for example, the recurring theme of an innocent man on the run in Hitchcock's films). Based on this, Truffaut published the article "''Une certaine tendance du cinéma français''" ("A certain tendency in French cinema") in ''Cahiers'' in 1954; in which he argued that, although films are generally made by huge teams of people (producers, screenwriters, cameramen, costumers, ETC...), the influence of the director generally overshadows that of everyone else. In other words, the director of a film can be considered its ''auteur'' (Author). Thus was born '''auteur theory''', which Truffaut and the others called "''politique des auteurs''."

In addition to this, these critics writing in ''Cahiers'' tended not to look too fondly on the movies the French had been making since the end of the war - feeling that they were predictable and formulaic while also criticizing how many of them were just prestigious literary adaptations. The magazine's writers referred to them as ''cinéma de papa'' (Dad's cinema) favoring directors who were outside the system like Creator/JacquesTati, Creator/RobertBresson, Creator/JeanCocteau, Max Ophüls and above all, [[TheAce Jean Renoir]], who they called "le Patron"(''the Boss''). They also championed the likes of [[Creator/LuisBunuel Luis Buñuel]], Creator/RobertoRossellini and devoted attention to Japanese Cinema and directors like Creator/KenjiMizoguchi.

These critics wanted movies that played with narrative conventions and defied audience expectations. Thus, they decided to try their own hands at directing, and thus, the '''French New Wave''' began. In 1958, Chabrol made what is debatably the first film of the movement; ''LeBeauSerge''. That one was a bit of sleeper, however. It was with Truffaut's ''[[Film/TheAdventuresOfAntoineDoinel The 400 Blows]]'' (1959), Alain Resnais' ''HiroshimaMonAmour'' (1959) and Godard's ''Film/{{Breathless}}'' (1960), each of them a critical smash, that the movement really took off. Common techniques and themes of French New Wave movies include shaky hand-held cameras, long shots, rambling philosophical narration, [[ShoutOut references to other movies]], jump cuts and other revolutionary editing techniques, existentialism, improvised dialogue, and breaking the FourthWall. They usually wanted you to be aware at all times that you were watching a movie and to think about it while it was still running. Initially they were practically no-budget indies, but the movies ended up being a hit with TheSixties generation in France and the budgets started to go way up. The movement died around the end of the Sixties at which point the original new wave moved on to different styles but they remained the dominating influence in artistic circles in France and Europe and continue to be touchstones to the present day.

To say that they were influential is an understatement. Within a few years, other countries started to take notice - first came the UK (''AHardDaysNight'' owes a lot to the French New Wave) and then it began to leak over to America, resulting in the NewHollywood era. Directors as diverse as Creator/MartinScorsese, Creator/FrancisFordCoppola, Creator/TerrenceMalick, Creator/QuentinTarantino, and Creator/WesAnderson, are incredibly indebted to the New Wave (Tarantino is a very vocal fan of Godard in particular). Just as importantly, they changed how people ''look'' at movies - they shifted the focus of movie criticism from production values and acting to direction and thematic depth. Several of the movies from the movement often show up on lists of the greatest movies of all time.

!! Tropes Associated with the New Wave:

* {{Deconstruction}} : Their movies deconstruct cinema, narrative, the separation between a actor and a character and the role of the audience as passive watchers of a movie and much of traditional storytelling.
* DoingItForTheArt : Believers and practitioners, who tended to keep pushing their limits and go against contemporary trends even when their films [[RunningTheAsylum became the trend]].
* DownerEnding : Not big believers in the HappyEnding or endings on the whole. GainaxEnding was a common occurence.
* {{Existentialism}} : Rougly contemporaries with Jean-Paul Sartre, he was a major influence on all their films, even a Catholic like Eric Rohmer.
* TheFaceOfTheBand : FrancoisTruffaut initially and then Jean-Luc Godard, especially after the former's death.
* FollowTheLeader: The directors of the new wave pioneered all kinds of production and editing techniques like the JumpCut which went on to inspire the NewHollywood and much of the film-school graduated professionals who worked in advertising and music videos.
* GenreBusting : The FrenchNewWave believed and practiced this, their films combing styles and themes and motifs from different genres.
* {{Homage}} : A frequent claim for their film's many references.
* SeriousBusiness : As critics and as directors, they took film-making in all its aspects very seriously. Eric Rohmer stated that audiences who didn't like Creator/HowardHawks didn't understand cinema and Jean-Luc Godard became famous for his many comments on a similar note.
* ShaggyDogStory / ShootTheShaggyDog : Their movies tend to have very thin plot and the story keeps subverting any narrative resolution. Jacques Rivette's ''Paris Belongs To Us'' is a conspiracy movie without a conspiracy, the atmosphere generally stemming from the UsefulNotes/ColdWar PostHistoricalTrauma.
* ShadowArchetype : To the BritishInvasion as well as artists like Music/BobDylan. They achieved in movies what TheBeatles, TheRollingStones and Dylan did in their music in the same time. Their works were widely seen and greatly influenced the same set. Marianne Faithfull made a cameo in a Godard film and Godard made a film documenting the recording of ''Sympathy for the Devil'' with the Stones.
* ShoutOut : To the whole of film history, literature, art, history, architecture and contemporary advertising.
* SmallReferencePools : French cinema tends to avert this, but the New Wave were even bigger aversions. The films of Jean-Luc Godard in particular engaging with everything from philosophy to science, fashion to contemporary advertising, to movies from every era, to Modernist architecture, fiction, painting and music.
* ViewersAreGeniuses : Major believers in this. Their narratives did not wrap everything neatly, and many of them expected their films be [[RewatchBonus seen twice]] to get the meaning and emotional force from their films.