Thinking for Ourselves: A Look at Godard’s Breathless

1694 WordsJun 21, 20187 Pages
The film genre of French New Wave brought many new ideas to the table, and challenged the techniques of classic Hollywood cinema, not just recreating something that has been done, but doing something new with it. Breathless (1960) is in many ways the antithesis of classical Hollywood cinema; the changes have a direct effect on the relationship the film has with the viewer. Classical Hollywood cinema includes standards such as continuity editing, highly motivated, character-driven stories and a coherent narrative structure. Breathless defies these elements of traditional filmmaking, instead defining what we know as French New Wave. From its opening scene Breathless breaks convention. Michel Poiccard, the main character in the film, is…show more content…
Though this scene seems irrelevant to the film, it is important on some level. Michel is just an ordinary man, who also happens to be a small time criminal. Unlike Hollywood cinema, there is no obvious defining of the characters. Godard uses a true-to-life person to create more connections between Michel and the audience; while the viewer doesn’t understand the significance of the scene, it is a different way of adding depth to the character. The way Godard uses camerawork and editing in the film is another way that he uses forms and standards of cinema in order to purposefully draw the audience’s attention to the filmmaking process. In classic Hollywood cinema, spatial and graphic continuity editing is extremely important, and often worked to perfection. Editing in Breathless is not used to advance the storyline or show continuity between scenes, but to echo the rhythms of everyday life. There are many jump cuts throughout the movie, which is considered a sin in classic cinema. The interesting thing about the jump cuts is that the dialogue continues uninterrupted despite these choppy cuts. In one scene, Michel is driving in a car with the American girl he tries to convince to go with him to Italy, Patricia. He is describing her beauty and the features that he likes about her, and as he gives each detail, the camera does a jump cut to a shot of Patricia’s face. In another scene, Michel is in

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