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According to the many articles and film history that I read, this is the first feature film directed by Jean- Luc Godard who was considered the influencial director that started the French New Wave. And based on our lectures, what makes the French New Wave famous was the technique like jumpcuts, shooting on location, using handheld cameras, loose narrative form or improvised dialogue. Godard also uses the history of cinema art and music. He also includes pictures in posters of famous artists like Picasso and Renoir women.
The music in the soundtrack also includes Mozart’s clarinet concerto and French pop radio. The entire story started when the character of Michel Poiccard which Jean Paul Belmondo portrays, has stolen a car. While he was driving he passed by two hitch hikers and decides to decline for the thought they were far too ugly for him. Then suddenly, he realized that the cops was behind him. He hid on the side of the street.
Thinking he got away he feels relieved. But suddenly a cop found him. He was shocked and unconsciously because of his instinct killed the cop.
It was not shown how he shot the cop, it was suggested because the next scene, the cop falls down in the bushes. Then he runs away in an open field. In Paris, he called up somebody on the phone but no one is answering. Then he bought a newspaper from a boy in a bicyle, browse it a bit then head to an apartment employee asking for that somebody.
He just took the keys when the man was not looking. Next scene he was inside the room. He just had a quick time in the wash room to freshen up. He was looking for money in the drawer but he was disappointed. He took a newspaper, read a bit then rubs in in his shoes.
Then a some girl opens the door and let him in. The room was full of posters of girls. He was asking for money. While the girl was changing, Michel easily took the money in her wallet. Then in the next scene he was on the streets looking for a girl. It was Patricia Franchini who was portrayed by Jean Seberg. She was studying journalism whom he had met in Nice a few weeks earlier. She was selling New York Herald Tribune. Michel was having a conversation with him about what had happen in their stay in Nice, his women and their plans. He asks for a copy of the newspaper but return it once he realized it had no horoscope.
They were planning to see each other on the same same street when the day ends. When they parted, he saw a newspaper stand, bought a copy. Patricia rushed through him and gave him a quick smack on the cheek. Right then and there I observed that these two were an item. In the building where he got inside, he was looking for a guy friend named Tolmachov.. They talked about certain guys common to them. Then his friend handed him an envelope which he was not please. He was given a certain phone number that he called. Then he bid goodbye. Two gentlemen came inside the building, the bigger man I knew was an inspector.
He was asking for Michel or a certain other name. At first Tomalchov denied he saw Michel but they were busted when a girl passed by and the detective asked her if he saw Tomalchov with a man 5 minutes ago. He was also reminded that accessory of a murder is a crime. I find Michel’s character rude, proud, dishonest and self centered. He likes to have everything easy without trying to work on it. Examples are the cars he stolen, the man he beat up in the comfort room so he can have money. I don’t think the respect Patricia. He “uses” people and loves to use the word “louse”. He almost always has a cigarette on her mouth which makes me annoyed.
Some critic said he made it sexy but I don’t find it appealing. As usual he always has a newspaper but I don’t think he paid for it. He wore sunglassed even if its late in the afternoon which I find truly absurd. Patricia’s character gets into my nerve. I hate movies that shows women they are like a “thing to be used”. I don’t like if someone used bad words to a woman. Good for him that he told the police about Michel. The background music also bores me. They keep on using it again and again. Except for the classical music they played when they were inside Patricia’s room.
There was also this scene when Patricia was interviewing a man alongside other journalist. When she asked “What’s your greatest ambiton? ” The man replied, “ To become immortal and then die. ” Patricia took off her sunglasses, think deeply and face the camera as if connecting to the viewers. In the scene where he called the cops about Michel, she even talked to him hear to heart. She love him that’s why she gave him away which made him furious. According to Wikipedia, “Godard envisaged Breathless as a reportage (documentary), and asked the Cinematographer Raoul Coutard to shoot the entire film on a hand- held camera, with next to no lighting.
In order to shoot under low light levels, Coutard had to use liford HPS film, which was not available as motion picture film stock at the time. He therefore took 18 metre lengths of HPS film sold for 35mm still cameras and spliced them together to 120 metre rolls. During development he pushed the negative one stop from 400 ASA to 800 ASA. The size of the sprocket holes for motion picture film and the Cameflex camera was the only camera that would work for the film used. ” “The production was filmed on location in Paris during the months of August and September in 1959, using an Eclair Cameflex.
Almost the whole film had to be dubbed in post- production because of the noisiness of the Cameflex camera and because the Cameflex was incapable of synchronized sound. ” “Filming began in August 17, 1959. Godard met his crew at the Notre Dame cafe near the Hotel de Suede and shot for two hours until he ran out of ideas. Coutard has stated that the film was virtually improvised on the spot, with Godard writing lines of dialogue in an exercise book that no one else was allowed to look at. Godard would give the lines to Belmondo and Seberg while having a few brief rehearsals on scenes involved, then filming them.
No permission was received to shoot the filmin its various locations (mainly the side streets and boulevards of Paris) either, adding the spontaneous feel that Godard was aiming for. However all locations were picked out before shooting began and Assistant Director Pierre Rissient has described the shoot very organized. Actor Richard Balducci has stated that shooting days ranged from 15 minutes to 12 hours, depending on how many ideas Godard had that day. Producer Georges de Beauregard wrote a letter to the entire crew complaining about the erratic shooting schedule.
Coutard claims that on a day that Godard had called in sick de Beauregard bumped into the director at a cafe and the two got into a fist fight. ” “Godard shot most of the film chronologically, with the exception of the first sequence which was shot towards the end of the shoot. Filming at the Hotel de Suede for the lengthy bedroom scene between Michel and Patricia included minimal crew and no lights. This location was difficult to secure, but Godard was determined to shoot there after having lives at the hotel after returning from South America in the early 1950’s.
Instead of renting a dolly with complicated and time- consuming tracks to lay, Godard and Coutard rented a wheelchair for the film that Godard often pushed himself. For certain street scenes Coutard would hide in a postal cart with a hole in it for the lens and stamped packages piled on top of Coutard. Shooting lasted 23 days and ended on September 12, 1959. The final scene where Michel is shot in the street was filmed on the rue Campagne- Premiere in Paris. ” It left me hanging where Michel was shoot and Patricai catched up with the detective.
Their dialogue had me thinking what was the meaning of their conversation especially the word “louse”. In my research it means a plural of “lice”, a wingless usually flattened blood sucking insect parasitic on warm- blooded animals or a person who has a nasty or unethical character underserving of respect. Michel for me is the big “louse”! Frankly speaking I was not really into the film. The very first time I watched it, it was all in French with no subtitles. I tried myself to be interested with it but I just found myself bored.
Good thing our teacher shared a copy with subtitle. Being a student I was diligent in all the dialougues and scenes. I was carefully observing the techniques that I’ve learn in French New Wave. I find it fascinating that during that time, Godard was a young director who was thinking outside the box. I love the confidence and the guts he puts into his film. He was even part of the film. So I tried to know him more. His most influential innovations was to design shots that seem astonishingly flat. He is the most widely imitated director of the entire post war era.
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