French Names: New Wave Classics

In late 1950s France there emerged a group of young intellectual, experimental filmmakers, including François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol and JeanLuc Goddard, who became known collectively as La Nouvelle Vague or New Wave, and changed the face of film.

In films like Breathless, they rebelled against traditional French cinema, employing such groundbreaking techniques as using  real locations, hand-held cameras, natural lighting and improvised scripts, jump cuts, voiceovers and slanguage, all of which had a profound influence on such later American directors as Martin Scorese, Francis Ford Coppola, John Cassavetes, Robert Altman and Quentin Tarantino.

But though their techniques emigrated across the Atlantic, the names of many of the characters in their films did not, and, looking through the casts of characters in these movies, we find a variety of fresh options, particularly on the female side, with sleek ine-ending choices and feminissima ette names.



And next week we’ll be taking a look at the Italian names in Fellini-era films.

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13 Responses to “French Names: New Wave Classics”

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Macy Says:

September 3rd, 2010 at 12:50 am

I think Etienne is my favorite french boy name, along with Yves.

Elle Says:

September 3rd, 2010 at 12:52 am

Maxence is interesting…not sure what I think about this one.

I really like a lot of these names. They have very pleasant sounds.

pippa Says:

September 3rd, 2010 at 9:48 am

Ah Delphine! One of my favorites….

SJ Says:

September 3rd, 2010 at 10:08 am

I like a lot of the sounds here as well–Edwige, Louisette, Noemie, Arsinoe… They sound so exotic and new.

linda Says:

September 3rd, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Nevertheless, this is how it’s listed in the credits for Clouzot’s “Manon.”

peach Says:

September 3rd, 2010 at 2:13 pm

As much as I love French names I see only a relatively small number on this that would be practical in the US. I really like and could imagine these on American babies — Celestine, Clotilde, Fabienne, Liliane, Manon, Mariette, Sabine, Sylvie, Veronique, Bastien, Leonide, Remy.

Kat Says:

September 3rd, 2010 at 4:32 pm

I love Noemie. How is that pronounced? No-EH-mee?

auburn Says:

September 3rd, 2010 at 5:02 pm

@ Kat – Noemie is no-AY-mee. Such a pretty name!

I love these films and I love these names, particularly Zazie (how fun!), Sylvie and Jules.

spotlightstarlit Says:

September 3rd, 2010 at 5:11 pm

I love these!

Kate Says:

September 4th, 2010 at 12:36 am

These are great, but I wish you’d mentioned which film each name is from.

Rita Says:

September 6th, 2010 at 10:37 am

French names! My favourites:

Astrée is divine (though I prefer Astrid), Clotilde, Cyrille, Edwige, Manon (as a nickname), Odile, Romane.

Loïc (though this is prononced [law-EEK]), Maxence, and Rémy.

Andrea Says:

September 6th, 2010 at 7:14 pm

I think Zazie is short for Isabelle in the film.

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