I grew up watching old films. (See my post about my master plan to host American Movie Classics as a kid). Film noir was a favorite.
When I did my crash course of French before moving here, a large part of my self-education involved watching French films and reading the transcripts at the same time. I was simply “opening my ear” to the language; I didn’t understand a dang thing! But what a pleasurable introduction.
Somehow I missed this one: Ascenseur pour l’échafaud or “Elevator to the Gallows” in its US release. This was Louis Malle’s first film (he was only 25!).
If this trailer doesn’t make you want to watch it immediately, well…I will still love you, but be forever confused as to how in the world this does not look awesome to you.
Hear that lonely trumpet?
That is MILES DAVIS playing an original score. And get this: he IMPROVISED the music while watching the film.
(Really, why are you still reading this? Don’t you need to rent this right now?)
If you don’t know what Louis Malle is saying…well, just think of it as opening your ear! He’s explaining what’s going on (again, Miles Davis is improvising as he watches the film! am I the only one blown away by this?), talks about his experience working with Cousteau (the French oceanographer/director), and the importance of making a film on a small budget in order to feel more free to take risks.
At one point the interviewer asks if his intention was to tout casser – break everything – and he responds why break everything? To do something new in film, it’s clarified.
He may not have known it at the time, but Malle’s film is now considered the beginning of La Nouvelle Vague – The New Wave of cinema.
So yes, new.
What new or cool discoveries have you made this week?
If you’re as impatient as me, Ascenseur pour l’échafaud can be viewed on YouTube if you can’t wait to get your hands on a better copy.