It's no surprise that the French have created some of the most romantic, risque and entertaining movies in the history of filmdon.
But it may be a surprise to some that France is the birthplace of cinema and is responsible for its early and significant contributions. Auguste and Louis Lumiere invented cinematography in the late 1800's and are considered to be the pioneers of the industry. Due to their innovations, the French film industry in the late 19th century was among the world's most important.
World Wars I and II took an enormous toll on French filmdom, allowing the US to thrive. But France perservered, creating such genres as poetic realism, French impressionist cinema and the New Wave era.
French film greats on both sides of the camera made great strides thrived in this historically creative atmosphere.
When director Roger Vadim's And God Created Woman (1956) was released in the US in 1957, it not only pushed but shoved the boundaries of sex on film shown in American theatres. Consequently, the movie is widely recognized as the vehicle that launched Bridgette Bardot and created her "sex kitten" persona, making her an overnight sensation worldwide.
One of the earliest and most influential examples of the French New Wave is Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (1960), which he both wrote and directed starring Jean Seaberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo. At it's debut, the film attracted much attention for its bold visual style and the innovative first use of jump cuts.
Brigette Bardot was forever enshrined as a sex kitten icon in the 1956
Madmoiselle Strip-Tease. Co-scripted and directed by her new husband Roger Vadim, Bardot firmly secures international stardom in this saucy French farce.
Les Diaboliques(1955) is widely thought to be the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock's thriller Psycho.
Directed by Henri Georges Clouzot and starring Simone Signoret, Vera Clouzot and Paul Meurisse, the story blends elements of thriller and horror. Now considered a classic of the horror genre and film in general, Les Diaboliques ranked forty-ninth on Bravo Channel's list of 100 Scariest Movie Moments.
Perhaps the oldest on our schedule, Rules of the Game (1939), is the most important. Directed by Jean Renior, second son of French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renior, it centers on upper-class French society just before the start of World War II. This movie is often cited as one of the greatest in the history of cinema. In 2012, a poll of international critics by Sight and Sound Magazine ranked it fourth, behind Vertigo, Citizen Kane and Tokyo Story. Not bad for a film that's nearly seventy five years old.
Screen junkies will attest classic French films are "must sees". An entire segment of actors and directors have become industry icons. As our Parisian friends say: Ca va sans dire. Which, for those just starting French Rosetta Stone lessons, translates to "it goes without saying".