Jean-Luc Godard and Breathless

First off reading the article where Jean-Luc Godard is being interviewed, I was given a good first impression of the guy. He spoke in ways about cinema that gave me joy and reminded me of the reason to love it. His words really spoke to me on how film is an amazing art form and it’s inspiring that he was a critic turned filmmaker. For films to be good, I think there should be a level of inner criticism that helps the movie be better. By having a film be done by a critic, they can analyze and judge their work like they usually do with other films. In theory it also would give the filmmaker the upper hand as they have seen many films, bringing their scope and views on what is good and bad (what works in a film and what doesn’t) in a higher respect. It actually sounds perfect for filmmakers to be heavy about analyzing films that have been made before theirs, to really understand filmmaking and storytelling. An ideal filmmaker should be a film critic and enthusiast.

As I read this, I thought about the possibility of todays critics becoming filmmakers. In a way, anyone in todays media culture has the possibility of forming a criticism and publishing it online. Anyone can technically become a film critic that voices their opinion to a massive audience. People I know, including myself, already watch many films and television shows with our own input and views. We discuss what worked and what could have been improved during specific scenes or moments in a film. I wondered if it’s still possible that a critic can become a well known filmmaker in our modern time. A website like youtube gives anyone the opportunity to have their own broadcasting video for the whole world to see. Not only is this great, it’s also horrifying in the sense of how much competition it builds. Imagining thousands of people who love films all at once deciding to push their videos into the online audience. It reminds me of a few of the last words Godard says, “Opening the door to absolutely everyone is very dangerous. Inflation threatens.”

Watching the film though, certain ideas of Godard sank in my imagination. From the interview I saw him as a man that truly knew film, knew the art that it is capable of holding in value and amazement. But maybe I hyped up the director too much, resulting in feeling a bit put off by Breathless. The film started very randomly, not very good at letting people understand what was all happening or going on. The shooting of the police officer was incredibly uneventful, things didn’t really seem to hold much emotional value in the scene. That part played such a huge start-up to the rest of the film, but it was barely even interesting to watch. Following scenes were somewhat interesting, long takes with sometimes witty humor and character development. A scene that was very memorable to me was when Patricia found Michel sleeping in her room, and they kept talking and talking about so many random things. At a certain point it was unbearable and I just wanted the scene to cut to the next, just to end it. I’m not sure what Godard was intending with that, maybe attempting to present realism with a long conversation and subtle foreplay between a guy and a girl with a past relationship. It was very weird, felt like over half the film was in that one scene.

Maybe I didn’t fully get what Godard wanted people to get from the film. The self-conscious concept about filmmaking is hard to perfectly present to a 21st audience without something like breaking the 4th wall. Jump cuts can seem at first like an error in the film, but the moment when the american guy is talking to Patricia, his head cuts funny while he’s saying one sentence, I was entertained by that. To be aware of watching a film seems like something a filmmaker would avoid doing. Usually when I imagine filming a screenplay, I would want the film to be able to suck the audience into a world where they are fully interested and thinking about the story deeply, almost entranced by what they’re watching. To jump scenes and cuts is something very unusual, maybe that’s what Godard really wanted to do; something unusual from that time’s mainstream films.

Todays audience wouldn’t fully realize the intentions of a director if they pulled this sort of maneuver in their newly released film. People would criticize it as intentional mistakes that hurt the film more than revolutionize it. Regular movie goers would either laugh or be confused by it, not favoring the style. Being different doesn’t always work out to being better or more interesting to the public or in comparison to other artists. It’s tricky to find a way to perfectly push a concept like self-conscious films with a technic that seems more like editing mishaps. Godard, to me, didn’t get it balanced enough in Breathless because the film needed some cuts at times and could have done more to really push that idea while keeping the movie entertaining. Entertainment is also another issue with films, we are brought up to believe that films are only for entertainment value. I’ve grown to understand that films hold more than value and importance but Breathless is about a smalltime criminal on the run, it would presume to be entertaining with that plot.

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2 Responses to “Jean-Luc Godard and Breathless”

  1. I agree with what you said about it being good for directors to have been film critics because they would know best how to make a movie better. I think constantly critiquing different movies would give you a better understanding of what makes a movie great and teaches you to avoid certain things as well.

  2. When it comes to Godard’s overall style, I think it’s just a matter of you either love it or hate it.

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