Lines of Flight: Jean-Daniel Pollet, Méditerranée, and the Tel Quel Group


I realize now, images, memories accompanied what was written: an impression.

— Jean-Louis Baudry

It may be that Richard Roud’s designation of what he termed “Left Bank cinema” was intended as much to provoke reflection on the consequences of classification as to name a particular group of three post-war French filmmakers (Agnès Varda, Alain Resnais, and Chris Marker) with obvious intellectual and aesthetic affinities. Why else would Roud begin his 1962 essay on the Left Bank with the claim that classification “proves nothing and is only valuable if it tells us more about what is being classified” (24)? Perhaps the time has come to ask whether the distinction between a Left Bank group and the Nouvelle Vague still “tells us more” about the films and filmmakers under discussion. What other questions are deferred by the goal of categorization? Which films and filmmakers fall out of film histories because they cannot fit neatly into either category? Bracketing the question of classification allows films of the period to be inserted into broader thematics and debates that touch on multiple aspects of post-war French film culture.

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