Four Wednesdays - August 7th to August 28th 2024 at 4:00 pm

Discussion in English on ZOOM

“A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.”– Orson Welles

Poetic films do not fit into a certain genre. Poetic cinema is an ever-elusive term that branches out into vast territory. Some associate it with the “arthouse,” others with the “avant garde,” two types of film making that in themselves escape lucid distinction.

It might be said that “Poetic” cinema favors the immediate experience and immersion over a logical progression of time and space. For the poetic filmmaker, rationale takes a backseat to the chaotic and elusive reverie of dreams, fantasy and memory.

The same can be said for all 4 films of our series, which continually challenge the spectator to delve deep and try and figure out the meaning, while encouraging us not to focus on definitive solutions. We invite you to join us on our journey, as we explore the poetic visions of these illustrious filmmakers.


While Alain Resnais left behind many exquisite reminders of his considerable filmmaking gifts., Hiroshima Mon Amour remains a highlight.

The deep conversation between a Japanese architect and a French actress forms the basis of this celebrated French film, considered one of the vanguard productions of the French New Wave. Set in Hiroshima after the end of World War II, the couple -- lovers turned friends -- recount, over many hours, previous romances and life experiences. The two intertwine their stories about the past with pondering the devastation wrought by the atomic bomb dropped on the city.

The strength of the movie’s impact lies primarily in the juxtaposition of horrific imagery with rhythmic, poetic dialogue (written by Marguerite Duras).

A film of tremendous beauty and gravity, the experience of Hiroshima Mon Amour lasts long after the screen fades to black.


Pierrot Le Fou is a sparkling, anarchic 1965 thriller from that great seven-year period from Breathless to Week-End, when Godard set out both to reinvent the language of film and to entertain.

It is a dizzyingly romantic road picture featuring Anna Karina, the filmmaker’s beautiful and beloved muse, who in fact made this film after she had broken up with Godard, and in the title role, Jean-Paul Belmondo. There is cool and then there's Jean-Paul Belmondo. No one ever made being bored look so exciting.

Godard abandoned the conventions of narrative cinema and adopted a loose format around which he could arrange poetic digressions and comic-book escapades, while taking pot shots at consumerism, cultural imperialism and the Vietnam and Algerian wars.

This effervescent, self-mocking, masterpiece may be the filmmaker's quintessential work.


Jean Cocteau stands alongside figures like Germaine Dulac, Luis Buñuel, and Salvador Dali as one of cinema’s most influential Surrealists.

In 1946, Cocteau directed his first narrative film, The Beauty and the Beast, based on the famous children’s story by Madame Leprince de Beaumont. This landmark of motion picture fantasy, in which the pure love of a beautiful girl melts the heart of a feral but gentle beast, has unforgettable performances by Jean Marais and Josette Day.

With this film, Cocteau reached a new level of artistic fusion, combining mythical narrative, visual poetry, cinematic trickery, and even his own child-like writing in the credit sequence. 

With its magical optical effects, Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast remains the most surreal -- and soulful -- of the fairy tale's film adaptations.


L’Atalante is a bridge between the surrealism of 1920s French cinema and the poetic realism of the 1930s.

Jean Vigo’s great work about a pair of troubled newly-weds and the crusty old mate with the unfettered imagination who travels with them aboard the Normandy freight barge Atalante, is lyrical, funny, heart-rending, erotic, suspenseful, exhilaratingly inventive.

Blending documentary realism and surrealism, Vigo achieved an effortless-seeming poetry through Boris Kaufman’s omniscient angled camera placement and gentle dollying and travelling shots, Louis Chavance’s rhythmic editing – and Maurice Jaubert’s musical themes.

There is an ethereal beauty to the cinematography of the film – a unique sense of visual storytelling. Jean Vigo's only full-length feature satisfies on so many levels, it's no surprise it's widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made.

Come join us beginning Wednesday, August 7th, as we discuss our 4 films in the following order:

You will be expected to see the four films on your own before each discussion. All four films are available with English subtitles for a nominal rental fee on Amazon Prime (links provided upon registration).  One week in advance of each showing, we will provide vocabulary lists, and suggest possible discussion topics prior to the session, all designed to inspire a lively debate.

We look forward to seeing you at our 4-week ZOOM session, beginning Wednesday, August 7th at 4:00 pm as we explore the unique perspectives of 4 French filmmakers.

To sign-up, go to the French classes page and FRENCH FILM "POETRY OF CINEMA" WITH TESS