Unbounded innovation: Exploring British New Wave at BAMPFA

Illustration of British people
Ann Liu/Staff

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Through the 1950s and 1960s, there were a number of films released in Great Britain that would go on to have a great deal of influence over global cinema for decades. Drawing from elements of the French New Wave, this era of filmmaking — the British New Wave — focused on drawing from real locations and real people, capturing the raw elements of life rather than elaborate staging and style.

The British New Wave also provided a space for a number of emerging filmmakers to experiment with genre and style. Directors such as Jack Clayton, Lindsay Anderson and Joseph Losey used a variety of cinematic techniques, playing with character portrayals and genre specifics to frequently highlight stories of class and social stratification.

The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, or BAMPFA, is highlighting films from this era in its series “Looking Back at the British New Wave.” The Daily Californian arts staff delves into some of the films that will be playing at BAMPFA through the end of November.

— Anagha Komaragiri

‘if….’ is a distant fantasy in 2019

As a piece of technical filmmaking, “if….” exists as a strongly subdued but ultimately slick slice of dark comedy that leans heavily on its infamous ending.

— David Newman


Sharp critique at heart of ‘Alfie’

The classic 1966 film “Alfie,” director Lewis Gilbert’s adaptation of a play with the same name by Bill Naughton, appears on its surface to tap directly into the beating heart of this era (and indeed is often cited as a classic “Swinging Sixties” film).

— David Newman


‘Room at the Top’ matures British New Wave

“Room at the Top” operates within the generic conventions of melodrama, complete with a mangled young woman and an angst-riddled leading man.

— Kate Tinney


‘The Servant’ is queer subversion

The song “All Gone” sung by Cleo Laine is used at several points throughout the film, morphing from a cozy, sweet love song to something far more terrifying.

— Kate Tinney


‘Blow-Up’ captures disconnect from reality in search of art

Thomas can wield authority in his studio because he is the one who commands the camera.

— Jake Lilian

Contact The Daily Californian’s arts & entertainment staff at [email protected].