This thesis examines montage in the early films of Nicole Vedrès, Alain Resnais, and Chris Marker, identifying its central importance as an aesthetic and historiographical method in a corpus of films directed over the course of a decade in post-war France. It explores their common artistic influences, personal ties, and shared aesthetic preoccupations in developing a poetics of montage in this period, one that privileges the assemblage of shots as a means of expressing a temporal flux between historical phenomena and the cinematic image. With the trio’s montage-centric filmmaking out of step with post-war French criticism’s embrace of a realist aesthetic of mise-en-scène, this thesis instead traces points of commonality between their work and inter-war practices of montage in the plastic arts, literature and cinema, particularly those associated with surrealism. Vedrès, Resnais and Marker adapt this modernist, avant-garde heritage of heterodox assembly to their own, reflexive historiographical method, with the novel correspondences created through cinematic montage used to reflect upon the itinerary of images over time when examined from a future vantage point. Walter Benjamin’s work on the historical legibility of images, theorising the emergence of a consubstantial relationship of past to present produced by montage, offers a useful conceptual framework for understanding the temporal complexities of these filmmakers’ historical assemblages. Bringing together images that range from archival photographs and footage, reproductions of artworks, and contemporary travel footage, Vedrès, Resnais and Marker suggest the deeper, often non-chronological historical resonances that link images of other times and places with a later moment of assemblage. Montage thus emerges in their work as a historiographical method that expresses new, critical relations between their post-war present and broader currents of cultural, aesthetic and political history, bringing to the surface the subterranean correspondences between images of the past and contemporary phenomena of the French Fourth Republic. Their films engage with the escalating tensions of the Cold War, French colonialism, the traumas of WWII and France’s attendant restructuring of its social and cultural fabric in terms of their more profound and lasting links to earlier 20th century history, staking a claim on the deeply unstable contours of post-war France as it grapples with its after-effects of the recent past. Vedrès, Resnais and Marker’s films of this period thus instantiate a model of image-based, cine-historical discourse on the present, in which the intellectual collisions of montage make available an archaeological vision of the contemporary moment as being built on the ceaselessly mutable foundations of the past.