Natalia's Film Blog

Breathless by Godard

May 6, 2010 · 1 Comment

The poster for Godard's BreathlessYet another movie ruined by Media Studies 200. Not in the sense that “I hate it now” (and nothing against MEDST200), but in the sense that, the entire story was given away in a case study about breaking the rules of continuity editing. *Sigh* I just wish I had been able to watch the film without having seen bits and pieces of clips. It was like watching the film with a vague sense of déjà vu.

That being said, I LOVED Breathless. It was so off-beat. It was like The White Stripes’s minimalist songs meet Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. It had a bit of a Dadaist streak to it. I found it really funny and very refreshing. I enjoyed the characters and the somewhat dissonant way in which they relate to each other.

Despite what we studied in Media Studies 200, I wasn’t really off-put by the disregard for continuity editing. I really loved it. Sometimes, I feel that people underestimate the ability of the audience to appreciate a film. It’s like dumb-ing things down for people. While some won’t be able to appreciate it, it should be up to the filmmaker to dictate.

It was thoroughly enjoyable, and had so much cinematic worth. The film helped to emphasize the fact that it was a film. The abrupt cuts, the ellipses in the car scenes all work to make us very aware of the filmmaker’s hand.

I particularly love the moments when sound comes in and out in the film, like in Patricia’s apartment when the siren drowns out part of the speech. It is natural yet unnatural at the same time. We are used to carefully constructed sound worlds in film, where the external sounds are either removed, or added by sound editors for a particular effect. If we were in the room with Patricia and Michel, we would have heard the siren, but we probably would have tuned it out to listen to the conversation. In film, the microphone picks up anything it “hears”…it doesn’t select out the sounds that it is supposed to be recording. Godard emphasizes this nature of film and makes the characters and conversation exist within a background in the world there, where noise happens. It makes the voices of the actors no more significant than the passing ambulance, or firetruck. It is really cool.

As Godard said in the interview: “If something has already been done there is no point in doing it again.”

I’ve read many different things by Godard on filmmaking, and it was wonderful to be able to see his work and connect his theories and his work.

Still frame from film Breathless La Jetée was a very interesting and disturbing film. I found it fascinating that the film was composed almost entirely of still images. Seeing the single moving image struck me really sharply. Although interesting in subject and idea, the story was really disturbing to me, and it was the sort of story I’ve thought about afterward, lying in my bed in the dark before I fall asleep. It creep-ed me out a bit, I must say.

It is interesting to see  what came before in French Cinema, and how this may have inspired the new wave, despite the fact that they protested against this earlier cinema. The war era brought with it more of the escapist comic and melodrama film, yet in the works of Renoir, we get a hint at the more realistic. His characters, as the textbook says, are not “evil” but the antagonistic situations arise from normal people rubbing each other the wrong way and creating tension.

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1 response so far ↓

  •   btrachtenberg100 // May 13th 2010 at 9:41 pm

    I disagree with that quote “If something has already been done there is no point in doing it again.” unless its with regard to literal remakes. If something has already been done in accordance to style, why not implement it elsewhere. Unless, Godard was reffering to the body of the film as a whole and not the sum of its parts. Regardless, i agree that richard gere in the remake of breathless is pathetic in terms of trying to do something over. There is a very distinct history printed on the film and this cannot be remade. But i do think that concepts and styles and conventions can be recycled, and reshaped after Breathless is a response to the Hollywood clich’e.

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