Oct 15, 2007

Screening on 21st Oct 2007 : BREATHLESS

A film that broke every dictate of

the conventional film making

Jean-Luc Godard’s


French with English sub titles
Country : France
Year :1960
Run time : 90 minutes
21st October 2007 - 5.45 pm
Ashwin Hospital Auditorium
Sathy Road ,Ganapathy, Coimbatore
Call :4376226 ; 9443039630

Compared to Hollywood conventions, this film stands out, because it takes conventions aside and speaks in Greek to them. This is a classic due to the conventions it created: it defined French New Wave with its hand-held camera shots and improvised dialogue. Truffaut and Godard stated in Cahiers du Cinema that film should express the soul. A Bout De Souffle is a film relating to the auteur, Godard, in ways films today can only admire.

The film also vibrates with onscreen references t
o popular culture and the affects of the media in ways that anticipate later theorists of the postmodern. It draws, albeit unconsciously, on Marshall McLuhan's contemporary ideas on the 'Global Village' and Roland Barthes' work on the dominance of culturally produced signs in society. Belmondo's character is literally obsessed with Bogart's poster and screen persona, and constantly checks out his style against cinema posters of 'Bogey' as well as imitating his gestures in numerous mirrors.

Belmondo is excellent, and classically existential (rather like Mersault in Camus' The Outsider) as the feckless young hood who steals a car, kills a motorbike cop, and chases after some money that is owed him for robberies past so he and his casually picked up yank chick (Seberg with a cropped head look that became existential de rigeur for years) can get to Italy.

Other cultural references and film in-jokes swarm throughout Breathless: admired cult stylist, the film director Jean-Pierre Melville, appears as a celebrity novelist being interviewed; Daniel Boulanger appears as the police inspector. Jean-Louis Richard and Philippe de Broca appear, and there are also bit appearances by Godard, as an informer, by Truffaut, and Chabrol (who also acted as supervising producer).

And of course there are many legends about the actual shoot including the use of wheelchairs as camera dollies. Renowned cinematographer Raoul Coutard's legendary ability in hand holding heavy 35mm cameras in long takes also comes to the fore. Coutard's amazing work, predating Garret Brown's invention of Steadicam, can be seen at its best in Jean Rouch's short contribution to the compilation film Paris Vu Par (1965). This begins with a hand-held shot that traverses many rooms, an elevator, and street, and runs for a full 20 minutes!

Click here to view a scene from Breathless

Finally there was the matter of the film stock which was in fact painstakingly hand-joined rolls of a very fast Ilford black and white still camera stock along with short ends of other stocks. This produced the grainy 'naturalistic' effect that Ken Russell – and later just about everyone else – was to borrow for his social 'realist' documentaries. Just about everything that looks different about Breathless became the signifiers of alternative, radical, independent film almost immediately.

Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard was born in Paris on December 3, 1930, the second of four children in a bourgeois Franco-Swiss family. His father was a doctor who owned a private clinic, and his mother came from an preeminent family of Swiss bankers. During World War II, Godard became a naturalized citizen of Switzerland, and attended the school in Nyons ( Switzerland ). His parents divorced in 1948, at which time he returned to Paris to attend the Lycée Rohmer. In 1949, he studied at the Sorbonne to prepare for a degree in ethnology. However, it was during this time that he began attending the François Truffaut, Jacques Rivette, and Eric Rohmer. In 1950, Godard with Rivette and Rohmer founded a "Gazette du cinéma", which published five issues between May and November. He wrote a number of articles for the journal, often using the pseudonym 'Hans Lucas'. After working on and financing two films by Rivette and Rohmer, Godard's family cut off their financial support in 1951, and he resorted to a Bohemian lifestyle that included stealing food and money when necessary. In January 1952 he began writing film criticism for 'Les cahiers du cinéma'. Later that year he traveled to North and South America with his father, and attempted to make his first film (of which only a tracking shot from a car was ever accomplished). In 1953, he returned to Paris briefly before acquiring a job as a construction worker on a dam project in Switzerland. With the money from the job, he made a short film in 1954 about the building of the dam called _Opération béton (1954)_ (Operation Concrete). Later that year, Godard's mother was killed in a motor scooter accident in Switzerland. In 1956, Godard began writing again for 'Les cahiers du cinéma' as well as for the journal "Arts". In 1957, Godard worked as the press attache for "Artistes Associés", and made his first French film entitled _Tous les garçons s'appellent Patrick (1957) (Charlotte et Véronique). In 1958, he shot Charlotte et son Jules (1960) (Charlotte and Her Boyfriend), his own homage to Jean Cocteau. Later that year, he took unused footage of a flood in Paris shot by Truffaut and edited a film called Une histoire d'eau (1961) (A Story of Water) which was an homage to Mack Sennett. In 1959, he worked with Truffaut on the weekly publication "Temps de Paris". Godard wrote a gossip column for the journal, but also spent much time writing scenarios for films and a body of critical writings which placed him firmly in the forefront of the 'nouvelle vague' aesthetic, precursing the French New Wave. It was also this year that Godard began work on À bout de souffle (1960) (Breathless). In 1960, Godard married Anna Karina in Switzerland. In April and May, he shot Petit soldat, Le (1963) in GenevaParis. However, French censors banned the film due to its references to the Algerian war, and it was not shown until 1963. In March, 1960, À bout de souffle (1960) premiered in Paris. It was hugely successful both with the film critics and at the box office, and became a landmark film in the French New Wave with its references to American cinema, its jagged editing, and overall romantic/cinephilia approach to filmmaking. The film propelled the popularity of the male lead Jean-Paul Belmondo with European audiences. In 1961, and was preparing the film for a fall release in

Goddard's work is phenomenal . From 1954 to 2006 Goddard has directed and given us 90 films and still he is busy . He is currently living in Switzerland. Like Ingmar Bergman, Goddard is one of the most important golden pioneers of Cinema , whose works have raised the art of Cinema to the level of literature and universal respe

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