Sexy Sixties – Chapter 1 Part A
The Age of Charm and Restlessness (1959-1961) Girls of the ‘Nouvelle Vague’
The young man leaves the cinema with an expression of deep satisfaction printed on his face. The film he watched had very little to do with anything he had ever watched before. It was a French movie and it had that continental charm that wasn’t very common in British films. And that girl, the actress Jean Seberg… the girl with the very short hair. What a girl! And how cool she was!
He is aware that there’s gonna be something new in the very way he’ll perceive these new films. Because they ‘are’ new, aren’t they?
These French films talk about the present, about real problems, tormented and contemporary love stories. They’re not just ‘movies’. They are the changing.
Walking under the thick rain of a greyish London, the young man knows that things will never be the same again. He thinks he’s falling in love with Jean Seberg. Or maybe with some other actress he’d watched in some other French film? Was she Jeanne Moreau? Brigitte Bardot? Bernadette Lafont? Anna Karina? God! They all look so modern, so different… Their world is made of groundbreaking frames, striking whites and deep, very deep blacks.
They don’t just ‘play’ the part. They are the part, they mean, resume, represent, symbolise the part. They produce real emotions and create from nothing a brand new way of being sexy. Hands up who wouldn’t date Jean Seberg, the young man thinks, his post-War shoes completely soaked with water, sinking in a landscape made of brown puddles.
And who are these new directors? Truffaut, Malle, Godard, Chabrol… Their names sound rather exotic. Where are they from? Are they all French? And – above all – why are their films all so incredibly sharp?
The young man is going home. Probably he’d find his mum screaming at his dad: “where ‘ave ya been? You’ve ‘ad a couple, you did. Didn’t ya?” and probably his dad would answer “Well, leave me alone now, I’m dead tired!”.
But one thing is for sure: he’s not going to have something like that planned for his life. He doesn’t want that. He wants Jean Seberg.
The young man is continuing to walk, his home now behind his shoulders. He can’t see what his mum and dad are saying. Are they arguing or something? His girlfriend’s house is a few yards away, a two-storey Victorian semi-detached. He thinks he’s going there.
His girlfriend opens the door. She’s nothing special really. And she does look a bit too old fashioned, with those curly things coming down off her head. “Too bloody Shirley Templish!”, the young man thinks.
“Hi”, he says.
“Hi” she says.
“Know what?”, he says, “Get a new haircut, girl, time for a change!”.
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