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French Classics

From the New Wave to poetic realism and cinéma vérité, French cinema takes many forms and offers endless delights.

Our subscription collection serves up the perfect primer, featuring undisputed masterpieces and provocative classics.

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Enjoy over 500 subscription-only classic and cult films from across the decades.  Free for 14 days, then £4.99 a month - cancel any time

Belle de Jour
Belle de Jour
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Belle de Jour

Drama1967100 minsDirector: Luis Buñuel

Luis Buñuel's provocative classic about a bored and neglected housewife (Catherine Deneuve) risks her reputation to take up a daring new hobby.

The Aviator's Wife
The Aviator's Wife
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The Aviator's Wife

Drama1980106 minsDirector: Eric Rohmer

A bittersweet fable about a young man's jealous pursuits; the first film in Eric Rohmer's six-film series, Comedies and Proverbs.

Betty Blue
Betty Blue
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Betty Blue

Drama1986185 minsDirector: Jean-Jacques Beineix

Jean-Jacques Beineix’s story of a volatile, highly sexual relationship was one of the most successful French films of the 1980s.

Breathless / À bout de souffle
Breathless / À bout de souffle
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Breathless / À bout de souffle

Film noir196090 minsDirector: Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard’s extraordinary debut feature, an insouciant and iconoclastic crime film that paved the way for the French New Wave.

La Belle et la Bête
La Belle et la Bête
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La Belle et la Bête

Fantasy194695 minsDirector: Jean Cocteau

Jean Cocteau’s ravishingly restored 1946 film is a cinematic classic. “Five stars. [This] magical exploration of the fairytale is a compelling and bizarre masterpiece” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

A Century of French Cinema
A Century of French Cinema
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A Century of French Cinema

Documentary199550 minsDirector: Anne-Marie Miéville

Six regions, six films appraised for cultural and historical meaning. Produced by Jean-Luc Godard.

Delicatessen
Delicatessen
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Delicatessen

Comedy1990100 minsDirector: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Jeunet and Caro's endlessly inventive and wildly enjoyable post-apocalyptic black comedy, about a sinister butcher and the circus clown who becomes his nemesis.

Celine and Julie Go Boating
Celine and Julie Go Boating
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Celine and Julie Go Boating

Drama1974194 minsDirector: Jacques Rivette

Jacques Rivette's exhilarating combination of theatricality, paranoia and 'la vie Parisienne' follows two young women as they enter a mysterious realm upon eating a magic sweet.

Chronicle of a Summer
Chronicle of a Summer
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Chronicle of a Summer

Documentary196190 minsDirector: Jean Rouch

The hugely influential and ground-breaking documentary film from filmmaker-anthropologist Jean Rouch and sociologist Edgar Morin.

Eyes without a Face
Eyes without a Face
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Eyes without a Face

Horror196090 minsDirector: Georges Franju

Georges Franju’s gorgeous, poetic horror film about a surgeon’s dark obsession with restoring his daughter’s disfigured face.

Eden and After
Eden and After
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Eden and After

Drama196998 minsDirector: Alain Robbe-Grillet

Alain Robbe-Grillet’s sensual fantasy follows a group of students who enter a bizarre sado-masochistic realm after taking a mysterious drug.

Les Enfants Terribles
Les Enfants Terribles
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Les Enfants Terribles

Drama1949106 minsDirector: Jean-Pierre Melville

Jean-Pierre Melville’s film of Jean Cocteau's controversial novel about a teenage brother and sister and their intense, closeted relationship.

Fantastic Planet
Fantastic Planet
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Fantastic Planet

Animation & Artists Moving Image197372 minsDirector: René Laloux

René Laloux and Roland Topor’s surreal, psychedelic sci-fi animation imagines a world in which humanoid creatures are kept as pets by a race of giants.

The Green Ray
The Green Ray
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The Green Ray

Drama198699 minsDirector: Eric Rohmer

Eric Rohmer's masterpiece about a woman chasing romance and adventure during a long, hot summer.

The Immortal One
The Immortal One
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The Immortal One

Drama1962101 minsDirector: Alain Robbe-Grillet

The debut feature from famed novelist and screenwriter Alain Robbe-Grillet is a daring examination of fantasy and memory set in Turkey.

Irma Vep
Irma Vep
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Irma Vep

Drama199699 minsDirector: Olivier Assayas

Olivier Assayas' sexy and stylish ode to the madness of filmmaking, with Maggie Cheung as the Hong Kong movie star playing a Catwoman-style anti-heroine.

Madame de...
Madame de...
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Madame de...

Drama1953100 minsDirector: Max Ophuls

Max Ophuls' intricately constructed and elegantly designed drama is a searing study of fateful passion wound up in deceits, deals and desires.

The Man Who Lies
The Man Who Lies
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The Man Who Lies

Drama196893 mins

Jean-Louis Trintignant is the mysterious stranger who arrives in a French village claiming to be an old comrade of a local resistance hero, in Alain Robbe-Grillet’s piercing fable of war-time myth and memory.

Le Mépris
Le Mépris
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Le Mépris

Drama1963103 minsDirector: Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard conducts an autopsy of love and the creative process, as a boorish film producer dismantles a seemingly strong marriage.

Maitresse
Maitresse
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Maitresse

1976113 minsDirector: Barbet Schroeder

Gerard Depardieu plays the young innocent who falls for the mysterious maitresse Ariane (Bulle Ogier), a leather clad dominatrix, in Barbet Schroeder’s controversial film.

More
More
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More

Drama1969116 minsDirector: Barbet Schroeder

The first feature by Barbet Schroeder (Maîtresse, The Valley), More created a sensation when it was released in 1969, quickly becoming a cult classic and famed for its Pink Floyd soundtrack.

Pauline at the Beach
Pauline at the Beach
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Pauline at the Beach

Comedy198295 minsDirector: Eric Rohmer

Eric Rohmer's final collaboration with the great cinematographer Nestor Almendros follows a holidaying teenager as she begins to navigate the adult world.

The Passion of Joan of Arc
The Passion of Joan of Arc
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The Passion of Joan of Arc

Biopic192780 minsSilentDirector: Carl Th. Dreyer

An incontestable masterpiece of silent cinema, Carl Dreyer's deeply moving biopic features one of the most powerful performances ever captured on film.

Partie de campagne
Partie de campagne
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Partie de campagne

Period drama193639 minsDirector: Jean Renoir

On a country picnic, a young girl leaves her family for a while and succumbs to an all-too-brief romance in Jean Renoir's sensuous tribute to the countryside.

La Règle du jeu
La Règle du jeu
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La Règle du jeu

Drama1939102 minsDirector: Jean Renoir

Renoir's depiction of an intransigent society teetering towards disaster was derided upon release and only later acclaimed as one of cinema’s most vital films.

Perceval
Perceval
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Perceval

Drama1978140 minsDirector: Eric Rohmer

Rohmer's extraordinary adaptation of Chrétien de Troyes' 12th-century poem charts the sentimental education of a selfish naïve young knight (Fabrice Luchini) in chivalry, courtship, courage and faith.

Successive Slidings of Pleasure
Successive Slidings of Pleasure
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Successive Slidings of Pleasure

Drama1974106 minsDirector: Alain Robbe-Grillet

Alain Robbe-Grillet’s serpentine erotic mystery presented as a surreal investigation into a woman with feared sexual powers.

Shoah (First Era)
Shoah (First Era)
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Shoah (First Era)

Documentary1985274 minsDirector: Claude Lanzmann

Claude Lanzmann's monumental chronicle of the Holocaust has been acclaimed by many as the greatest documentary ever made.

Shoah (Second Era)
Shoah (Second Era)
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Shoah (Second Era)

Documentary1985293 minsDirector: Claude Lanzmann

Claude Lanzmann's monumental chronicle of the Holocaust has been acclaimed by many as the greatest documentary ever made.

Trans-Europ-Express
Trans-Europ-Express
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Trans-Europ-Express

Thriller196695 minsDirector: Alain Robbe-Grillet

This stylish, cult 1966 erotic thriller stars French New Wave icons Jean-Louis Trintigant and Marie-France Pisier.

Vivre sa vie
Vivre sa vie
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Vivre sa vie

Drama196283 minsDirector: Jean-Luc Godard

Anna Karina shines in Jean-Luc Godard’s critically acclaimed account of a Parisian woman's slow descent into prostitution.

Two in the Wave
Two in the Wave
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Two in the Wave

200992 minsDirector: Emmanuel Laurent

Jean Luc-Godard and Francois Truffaut: the story of a friendship, a break-up and the birth of a new cinematic movement that would sweep the world.

The Valley (Obscured by Clouds)
The Valley (Obscured by Clouds)
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The Valley (Obscured by Clouds)

Drama1972105 minsDirector: Barbet Schroeder

Different worlds collide when a chic young diplomat's wife meets an intriguing adventurer and his hippy friends in Barbet Schroeder's striking second feature.

Jeune et Jolie from French Cinema

More French cinema in our Rentals collection.