When we talk about such a vast topic as French Cinema, its influence and the work of Raymond Cauchetier on it, it is hardly impossible not to talk about what the world knows as ‘Nouvelle Vague’ – that literally means, ‘The New Wave’.

The Nouvelle Vague was basically a revolution. Considered as one of the most significant film movements in the History of cinema, it broke with the formalities of the past and encouraged new styles, forms of production and themes in the industry. A movement led by young directors- in their mid 20-30s.  They came with a completely new generation of stars as Anna Karina, Jean Seberg, Jean Paul Belmondo or Jean-Claude Briely. The Nouvelle Vague was an expression of freedom or ‘the freedom to express’. A movement of ‘rethinking’ and criticism, a totally different and innovative way of using the rules of storytelling, the notion of ‘misé-en-scénce’.

Raymond Cauchetier (10th Feb, 1920) is turning 100 years old. Cauchetier has overseen photography on set and on location of several -more than 30- French films during the Nouvelle Vague movement. By his work on still photography, he created some of the most relevant and iconic visual documents made of film progress. Working with Godard, Truffaut or Chabrol, Raymond captured the early and innovative steps of these directors on set procedures in the 60’s.

Éric Rohmer, Jacques Rivette, Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol… Does it ring a bell? They were not the only ones, but some of the most important cinema directors and critics. All of them wrote pages and pages of the famous Cahiers du Cinéma and are considered the some of biggest references of 1950’s & 1960’s French cinema.

Jean Paul Belmondo at ‘Breathless’ (1960) movie set

 

‘I’ve never received the slightest advice from a professional. I’ve always improvised, and invented what I needed to do, with my own inspiration. Is that why some people think my photos never look like other people’s?’

— Raymond Cauchetier
Brody (2009), p. 36

 

 

 

 

Iconic Nouvelle Vague star Jean Seberg

Jean Seberg and Jean Paul Belmondo kissing at ‘Breathless’ (1960) set

Jules et Jim (1962) directed by François Truffaut

Between 1959 and 1968, his camera captures the new cinema industry icons almost since the early beginning of their careers. His photographs share the rebel and rejuvenated spirit of the New Wave: the picaresque of Belmondo, the sensuality of Karina, the fresh smile of Seberg, the adventurous eyes of Moreu in Jules et Jim…

Raymond Cauchetier started his journey on the photography field just by chance. Listed on the French Air Ministry, he started taking pictures on a mission in Saigon (Vietnam), when his General asked for a photographer and nobody volunteered.

When he came back to Paris, he was hired to shoot photo-novels until he met the producer Georges de Beauregard, who introduced him into the cinema industry.

Jeanne Moreau at Jacques Demy’s ‘La baie des anges’ (1963)

Anna Karina and Jean Paul Belmondo

Jean Seberg and Jean Paul Belmondo

‘I am a reporter, not an artist. I believe that reportage teaches us more. It’s more important to capture life than constructed situations.’

– Raymond Cauchetier, from The Telegraph.

Final scene of ‘Breathless’ (1960)

‘A bout de Souffle’, well known by its international name ‘Breathless’, has been without concerns a landmark in the History of cinema.

Jean-Luc Godard was a young and radical director just starting his career and after a few shortfilms, ‘Breathless’ was the first long project of the director. This first feature film counted with a very limited crew and a really tight budget. 

It was an original idea by François Truffaut and it turned out to be the biggest breakout for Cauchetier at that time. 

All the photographs belong to ©Raymond Cauchetier

 

Cauchetier created a photographic documentary of Jean-Luc Godard’s way of working. He was fascinated by his spontaneous and original non-script procedures. 

He also documented the movie-making process of many important New Wave shootings as Jacques Demy’s ‘Lola’, Jacques Rozier’s ‘Adieu Philippine‘,  Godard film ‘Une femme est une femme‘, Agnès Varda’s second feature, ‘Cléo from 5 to 7’ or Truffaut’s ‘Jules and Jim’.

The photographer also caught some of the most iconic moments on film History such as the final street scene with a lied-on-the-floor Belmondo or the medium closeup cheek kiss shot of Seberg and Belmondo. Cauchetier defended that he wanted to take ‘non-film’ photos that were able to reveal the hidden methods and real personalities of the directors.

 

content editor Noelia Blas
words Penélope Blas

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