The French New Wave movement in cinema (Nouvelle Vague en francaise) began in the late 1950’s and the tenets of Nouvelle Vague continue to be seen in French films today.
Notable features of this movement include:
- slow, subtle and ambiguous plots
- strong character development
- few happy endings, or even conclusive endings
- an emphasis on Art over profits
While I have a genuine appreciation for Nouvelle Vague, I also appreciate a film like Pixar’s “Ratatouille” (2007), which not only sold beaucoup movie theater tickets, but also beaucoup toys. (I doubt the Jean-Paul Belmondo action figure ever made more than few francs – even with the optional toy cigarette that produces real smoke!)
As well as profits (over 200 million at the box office), “Ratatouille” also had a great story and the happiest of endings. I love this animated movie more than any film by Truffaut, Godard, or Walt Disney for that matter. Call it Anti-Nouvelle Vague, it is a Hollywood movie that captures France’s joie de vivre.
“Ratatouille” is the story of Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt), an “odd yet lovable” little rat who dreams of becoming a chef. The film has the amazing animation we expect from Pixar, but also an unexpected, heartwarming, uplifting – even thrilling story. It deservedly won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film in 2007.
One more thing – “Ratatouille” has a GREAT theme song, “Le Festine,” sung by the “odd yet lovable” French singer Camille! (Camille is most famous in the États–Unis for her song “Ta Douleur”, which played in a hilarious SNL skit with Emma Stone dancing in a French cafe. Check out more of Camille’s music here – she’s terrific!)
Had I any regrets following my trip to France, it is that I did not hear Camille perform “Le Festine”onstage, and that I never tried a plate of this traditional French dish at the new Paris bistro, “La Ratatouille” (formerly Gusteau’s).