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Breathless, directed by Jean-Luc Godard and release in 1960 and most importantly dedicated to Monogram Pictures, a U.S. B-studio that made gangster films. This film, is known for the French new wave for breaking many rules, but in the world of Godard this was not breaking the rules, this was making the audience aware and to think critically. This new wave was marked by theoretical, political and philosophical concerns. Since in those times the Vietnam War was occurring, the French had a complex relationship with United States by the presence of them. It all comes down to colonizing the region by the time of President De Gaulle. And the anti-communism by the United Sates. The new wave was meant to demonstrate to United States filmmakers that the French filmmakers can do gangsters films in a new and rebellious way and directors of the era didn’t have to follow the American way, but to follow an owned trend. The scene that shows this rebellious attitude is at the moment Patricia Franchini is telling Michel Poiccard to run away from the police because she called them, Michel doesn’t want to, he worries about Berruti, his friend, the police shot Michel and then he runs the whole street down until he falls. This ending scene represents the whole aspect of the French new wave.

The scene opens with a black and white film, a medium close up shot of Patricia, panning left towards Michel to end up in a 180 degree rule. Right at the moment Patricia is in his right, a camera movement of tracking out appears and then we have a two medium shot. Here we have a much lighted room, this is because is daytime with big windows. Just to keep in mind this type of films tried to take advantage of the day light. Then we have Michel closer to the camera and Patricia is out of focus. While he is walking almost towards the camera all disappointed by being betrayed, the camera tracks out, we still have Michel in a medium shot, keeping him in the same frame.  We have some overlapping. He stars walking to the right of the camera and we see panning to the right to the point of making a 270 degree walk. I have never notice that in a film. The lighting is dark because there is not natural coming in where the walls are. He walks in a line from the 270 degree and his right side is all dark. Then we have a harsh camera movement, like a horizontal tracking out line, Michel walks to her.

Here, a close up shot of Patricia’s profile looking right, talking to Michel. The camera pans right when he talks in a close up shot too. Michel is in a profile looking left. So we can see that there’s not eyeline match rule. A broken rule shown, that proves the rebellious attitude.

Voila! We get a lovely jump cut, right away when Patricia is talking back to him, he is going to look down, but the next move is a mismatched shot. We see a long shot of both of the characters; he is already turned to the camera. He just remembers Berruti, turns back to her. The emphasis of Godard was to force the audience to focus on the film, rather than losing themselves in the narrative.

And then voila another jump cut, this time he is already outside. Lots of natural lighting, long shot of Michel, looking to his right. The most important thing in here is that the sound is direct, so we get a sense how low budget the film is. The purpose of it was always to make a deconstructing and reflecting aspect of the conventions of mainstream narrative cinema. Berruti is passing by with the car and then the camera pans right, following Michel and Berruti. We obtain a long shot from both.

Right after the long shot we have a medium long shot from Michel, “the cops are coming” there is a lot of discussion going on, we see a sped up motion moment, both are talking in a rush, Berruti insist in Michel to get in the car, but he refuses. A close up shot of Michel, then the magic moment, he directs to the camera, so the character is speaking to the audience and we see how the political revolution format appears, to better refer to this, the French leftist don’t want to be manipulated by the government. Berruti talks back to him and Michel looks back to him, but we don’t see a shot reverse shot.

What we see next an abrupt shift, because before the establishing camera was in front of the two characters, then out of the blue the camera is looking from behind of them. This is another stylistic technique of the new wave.

Berruti offers his pistol, when this happens a camera movement occurs, it pans suddenly to the right, then harshly the left at Michel. He rejects the pistol and out of the sudden we get a high angle of the car police approaching. It breaks roughly and let’s not forget is direct sound so it sounded incredibly real as it is. Then a medium shot of Berruti in his car, he gets the pistol. Then we get a shot reverse shot, because it goes back to the high angle at this time the policemen are getting out of the car. Then reverse shot reverse of Berruti throwing the pistol. We get a match on action, we can see at the time that the pistol falls in the floor. Michel is in that shot, in a medium shot right away a long shot, then picks up the gun looks back. Shot reverse shot to Berruti, he takes off. Michel is still in a long shot with the gun in his hand.

Later on the fun begins, the bold policeman shoots once, very loud shoot, we have a three medium shot. Then voila music appears, an intense Jazz. We get a long shot of Michel running away, a little out of focus, because is not well clear what his hands are doing. The camera since is hand held, the camera makes the movement of running behind Michel, the jazz picks up even more, the beat follows Michel movements of Zorro style. I say this because he is running in continuous ZZZZ’s. To be more specific when he touches the first car with his left hand, which is a truck, a drum beat appears, this is when he goes to the left. Second another instrument that I cannot identify, but it seems to be a timpani, follows around seven steps he makes to the right. The trumpet goes erratically the timpani reappears, Michel is still running, when he is running to the left the trumpet makes same bit as before and then Michel turns around. We see a shot reverse shot of Patricia in a medium shot running towards him. To keep something in mind a car is behind her, so we don’t see the police car nearby. We go back to the long shot of Michel turning around again running in a stumbling way, goes to the floor, doesn’t give up he continues running in a funny way back to right, left, right. After this the camera is getting closer to him, we get to see that he is bleeding from the back and he is holding the wound. The music does a nice effect when he is about to fall. To go down the trumpet beat goes down, to go up trumpet beat goes up. When Michel is getting closer to the end of the street, the saxophone makes a sound beat of escalating down. So we can tell that he is going to fall down in any second. The trumpet starts picking up the pace and he finally is down.

Then the camera is tracking in to him in the street floor, he is on his chest, long shot, high angle. We still see Patricia running from a bit far, but we can get a medium long shot. Michel turned on his back, a big high angle; smoke is coming out of his mouth. The policemen are approaching and end up surrounding him, and then Patricia arrives. Next a big close up on Patricia looking down for a long time, then we see Michel in a high angle starring at Patricia, then he makes faces. Shot reverse shot, same big close up of Patricia, reverse shot. Then he says “makes me want to puke” and he covers himself his eyes, reverse shot to her and then voila another direct address to the camera. The jazz again appears when she kind of gets his identity by passing her thumb in the lower lip, like he used to do, but this time is a calm jazz piano mood and then she turns around and the film fades out.

In conclusion, this scene demonstrates how juicy the lighting, the angles, camera movements, and the music gave life to the politically rebellion against following up the American cinema. Through the art of filmmaking Godard makes sure to show it off to the audience. Cinema was seen as a tool for the revolution; against the rules of de cinema de papa, gave a light to have ideas and make them great to defend the right of expression and self defined thinking. Godard as other filmmakers created this type of films to avoid manipulation in the way to follow rules in filmmaking and in politics.

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December 10th, 2010 at 11:17 pm

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      Amy Herzog says:

    What I’ve enjoyed most about all your posts this semester, this one included, is the passion and energy you convey through your phrasing. There are quite a few typographical and grammatical bumps that you still need to work on polishing as you continue your studies (and this will get better with careful proofreading and practice). But your writing has a wonderful spirit to it– something that is very hard to learn how to do, and which makes reading your work very fun. Thanks for a wonderful semester and all your hard work.