Visual Analysis of Breathless (Godard)

3850 words 16 pages
BREATHLESS by Jean-Luc Godard

Aesthetics and Visual Analysis Paolo Favero Tim Somers s0111755 Film Studies & Visual Culture

BREATHLESS by Jean-Luc Godard
A visual analysis by Tim Somers Aesthetics and Visual Analysis Fall term 2012
"Ne va pas montrer tous les côtés des choses, garde-toi une marge d'indéfini." Jean-Luc GODARD

It isn't hard to see why Breathless (original title: À Bout de Souffle) manages to distinguish itself from general film, being now or at the time it came out. Despite being the first film by influential French director Jean-Luc Godard, its visual style and unconventional approach has led to the film being labeled as historically significant and brought international acclaim to the French New Wave movement. It
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The woman asks if she could accompany him, but Michel refuses. This as well would have rarely been seen in Hollywood cinema, where early connections between female and male characters often stay alive throughout the entire storyline.

false feeling of proximity in shot - reverse-shot

The following sequence is equally particular in reinventing or ignoring the conventions of classical cinema. We follow Michel driving off in the car he just stole. He directly addresses the audience, comfortably breaking the fourth wall with his assumptions about his surroundings. He sings, insults other drivers and discusses future plans accompanied by a non-continuous montage of jump cuts consisting of Michel, the cars he passes by and the countryside. Aside from one external shot of the car speeding by the scene is filmed by a handheld camera in the passenger seat of the car. The scene is inviting - it invites the viewer into the personal world of Michel - almost to make an at first glance unlikable character (moderately) likable. Classical cinema would skip the driving sequence as being non-important, here it is a necessary view in the nature of Michel Poiccard.



Michel, breaking the fourth wall

Michel attracts the attention of patrolling police officers and a chase ensues, filmed like before with handheld camera. The scene is accompanied by a high tempo, upbeat piano shuffle which together with the jump cuts and rapid handheld camera movements - to