British New Wave

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For the British response to new wave music, see Second British Invasion

The British New Wave is the name given to a trend in filmmaking among directors in Britain in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The label is a translation of Nouvelle Vague, the French term first applied to the films of François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard and others.

There is considerable overlap between the New Wave and the so-called "Angry Young Men", those artistes in British theatre and film such as playwright John Osborne and director Tony Richardson, who challenged the social status quo. Their work drew attention to the reality of life for the working classes, especially in the North of England, often characterized as "It's grim up north". This particular type of drama, centred around class and the nitty-gritty of day-to-day life, was also known as the kitchen sink drama.

Stylistic characteristics

The British New Wave was characterised by many of the same stylistic and thematic conventions as the French New Wave. Usually in black-and-white, these films had a spontaneous quality, often shot in a pseudo-documentary (or cinéma vérité) style on real locations and with real people rather than extras, apparently capturing life as it happens.

Influence of writers and short film makers

Like the French New Wave, where many of the filmmakers began as film critics and journalists, in Britain critical writing about the state of British cinema began in the 1950s and foreshadowed some of...
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