Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Modern Languages and Literatures


Existentialism, Sartre, New Wave Cinema, Camus, Beauvoir, Truffaut, Godard, Resnais, Vigo


Throughout the world, Existentialism and New Wave Cinema are two defining pinnacles of French culture. As iconic of France as the baguette and cheese, the two subjects continue to retain their relevance in French and francophone cultural studies. My thesis explores the correlation between French existentialist philosophy and French New Wave cinema to argue for what can be called French Existentialist Cinema. In terms of French existentialist philosophy, I focus mainly on Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus. As for the French New Wave, I focus first on one of its most highly admired precursors, Jean Vigo and his 1933 film Zero for Conduct, the influence for New Waver François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows (1959). Then I look at three more of the New Wave’s famed directors, Alain Resnais, and Jean-Luc Godard, analyzing several of their respective works, including Hiroshima mon amour (1959), and Breathless (1960). Ultimately, I demonstrate how these New Wave films exude an undeniable Existential zeitgeist that characterizes post-war mid-twentieth century France.



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