Movies and Film

French Film History

If you attended elementary school in the 1960s or '70s, chances are you'd already been exposed to French film by the time you were 12.

After winning prizes at the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Awards, director Albert Lamorisse's short subject film Le Ballon rouge (The Red Balloon, 1956) made its way onto America's classroom projectors and into the hearts of a generation of school-children. Following the course of an elusive balloon through the alleys and streets of Paris and the balloon's charmed pursuit by a young boy who cries "Ballon! Ballon!" in its wake, The Red Balloon evokes the beautifully haunting poetry of French filmmaking beginning a decade after World War II, when the Nouvelle Vague, or "New Wave," of cinematic artistry swept across the nation's screens.

Beginning with the pioneering efforts of the Lumière brothers in the 1890s, France has produced a proud and often sublime century of film. The United States' only close rival in the history of cinema, the French nation has given the world some of the most captivating and unforgettable visual images there are. Rather than giving you a straight history of French film, then, what we offer here is a "taster menu," if you will, which, with any luck, will tempt you to sample further in this most delicious part of the medium of film.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Movies and Film © 2001 by Mark Winokur and Bruce Holsinger. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order the e-book book direct from the publisher, visit the Penguin USA website. You can also purchase this book at Amazon.com.

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