If there were two defining characteristics of art cinema in the 1960’s then it was a need to challenge prevailing orthodoxies (both in terms of film form, filmic traditions, and politics) and to reconstitute the theme of national identity in the wake of tumultuous world events. It became a decade of national cinema and new waves. The most prominent occurred in France and was represented by the films of former critics such as Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut and Claude Chabrol. In Britain the ‘Angry Young Man’ impulse gave rise to the ‘kitchen sink’ realism of films such as Room at the Top (1959), A Taste of Honey (1961), and This Sporting Life (1963). While the young French filmmakers were concerned with challenging the so called ‘Tradition of Quality’ and pushing the boundaries of film form, the British filmmakers were occupied with issues of class and realism. In Japan filmmakers such as Nagisa Oshima, Seijun Suzuki, Shohei Imamura, and Susumu Hani contributed to a wave of audacious politically motivated films that interrogated questions of gender and the recent occupation. The influence of Italian Neo-Realism and the French New Wave had a profound effect on a generation of South American filmmakers, and tremors of seismic activity could be detected in Cuba, Argentina, and most notably Brazil’s ‘Cinema Novo’. One of the least written about areas of activity occurred in the Eastern bloc countries; Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia all enjoyed brief but brilliant moments of filmmaking sunlight, before the boot of communism ground out the creativity. Morgiana is considered one of the last flowerings of the Czech New Wave and is both a brilliant and frustrating viewing experience.
© Shaun Anderson 2012