Monday, 19 January 2009

Influences part 4: Jean-Luc Godard

Continuing on from yesterdays post about Tarantino and Godard, today I will mention some of the elements from various Godard films that are of interest to me, and that I tried to incorporate into my graduation film.

Within A Bout de Souffle (1959) the most notable experimental feature is the jump cut (1:50-1:58) , and it is probably the most important feature from Godard's work that has had an influence on my graduation film.

In Bande a Part (1964) Godard created several quirky set-pieces that are rather experimental but which also add a playful charm to the overall film, such as a 'minutes silence' in a loud cafe. I find these quirky features to be really rewarding but they seem to be missing from most modern films, so I would like to try incorporating similar things into my own film work.
Despite these wonderful quirky features, Anna Karina's beguiling performance as the naive Odile is for me the defining feature of Bande a Part. I always lose myself within Karina's youthful charm (even after however many repeat viewings).... And if I could capture just a tiny proportion of the essence of her performance for my own films then I would be a happy chappy!

I really like the futuristic styling in Alphaville (1965), but my favourite feature is one long continuous shot (2:39-4:39) as the camera follows the protagonist as he walks up to the reception and registers, enters two side-by-side glass elevators (one used by the cameraman, the other by the protagonist), goes up a few floors, out the elevators, along long corridors and around several corners, then up to a door. The whole sequence lasts 2 minutes, but the setting makes this shot feel natural and justified - whereas it would look terrible in a different type of film.
Godard plays with these drawn-out single shots throughout Weekend (1967) - where shots regularly run for at least 5 minutes, and a couple drag on for up to 14 minutes! Alfred Hitchcock even tried to film all 77 minutes of ROPE as if it were one continuous shot! I always find this style of shot quite amusing, and I tried incorporating it into my graduation film, but I did not have a shot suitable for this style - so wherever I tried it the shot would look really monotonous and just destroyed any excitement in my story.

Of all the elements in my graduation film so far, it is the jump cuts that I have found most intriguing. There are some scenes in my film where the quick dramatic montage style of jump cuts is not suitable for the nature of my story, but with conservative use of the jump cut I think it will be really effective.

Here are some links about Godard:
Extensive information regarding Jean-Luc Godard at Senses of Cinema

Article in The Guardian, August 2008: One Big Act

Article in The New York Times, August 1985: SCREEN: 'DETECTIVE,' BY JEAN-LUC GODARD

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