Quick Review: “Six in Paris” (Paris vu par…) (1965)

Six vignettes.

Six different sections of Paris.

Six different directors.

“Six in Paris” (originally “Paris vu par…”) is an anthology of six short films from 6 iconic French New Wave directors (Claude Chabrol, Jean Douchet, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Daniel Pollet, Éric Rohmer and Jean Rouch). I’ll be the first to say (as someone who considers themselves slightly more well-versed in cinema than the average person…no scholar or anything), I’ve had a rough time getting into most French New Wave films (I’m still pretty new to the genre to be honest so the jury is still out — but I thought “Breathless” was overrated and boring 🤷🏽‍♀️).

French New Wave (or “La nouvelle vague”) is characterized by its rejection of traditional filmmaking conventions in favor of experimentation and spirit of iconoclasm with new approaches to editing, visual style and narrative while engaging with the social and political upheavals of the era — the vignettes in “Six in Paris” definitely have that on full display. And I was pleasantly surprised because I actually enjoyed this. The shorts deal with everyday life (while also giving a little history lesson), relationships, sex, and cultural norms and attitudes amongst other things. It was like jumping in a time machine and being transported back to 1960s Paris — to see the sights and sounds as if I were really there.

Micheline Dax & Claude Melki in Pollet’s “Rue Saint-Denis” vignette

The anthology started strong with the St. Germain area (directed by Jean Douchet) and a cute/funny little ditty about relationships/sex and cultural differences between America and France. It starts with the camera takings us on a ride through the streets of Paris following the narration of the story which describes the meeting between the two main characters. We don’t actually see them until the next morning, but I was a fan of how this opened up. The 2nd vignette (Gare du Nord by Jean Rouch) starts in a small flat with a young couple bickering as the “honeymoon phase” of their relationship has finally wore off. It’s the juxtaposition of the husband and wife — she feels the mystery is gone while he is perfectly content wit his life. Then the short takes a crazy, tragic turn that definitely caught me off guard. The last four vignettes were cool, but didn’t really leave an impact like the first two — although the 4th one (directed by Godard) was interesting and definitely engaging while I was trying to guess what was actually going on in this man’s misadventures.

Overall, I think “Six in Paris” is a great way to dip your toe into the French New Wave genre (and although from what I’ve been reading, while not technically new wave, the works of Jean-Pierre Melville are “must watches” in my opinion — I love “Le Samourai”). If you’re looking for something light and interesting to watch one evening, I say give this one a go!

A restored version of “Six in Paris” is currently streaming on OVID.tv.