Film Analysis 2

In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s in France there was a cinematic movement called the “New Wave”.  The New Wave’s style of film making was different from the mainstream ways.  The films were shot with low budgets.  They had no real straight forward narrative.  They were usually shot on location.  They blurred the lines of fiction and reality. Most importantly, they broke rules that were established with traditional cinema and more.  In Breathless (Godard, 1955) there is a scene where Michel and Patricia are riding in a taxi on their way to meet Antonio then to the Champs Elvsees.  This scene is a great representation of the New Wave.

The scene starts out with a fade to the inside of the taxi with Michel yelling at the cab driver to “step on it.”  The camera is in the back seat like a passenger or like we are seeing through Michels eyes.  The camera is not directly behind the driver.  This is probably because if the camera was right behind the driver, we would see the camera through the front mirror.  In the next shot Michel is all of the sudden in the middle of telling a story to Patricia which means there was an ellipses.

In the next shot, the camera is on the hood of the taxi and we are looking at the place where Michel was born. The camera then “pans” to the right at the building Michel finds as an eyesore.  I put “pans” in quotation because even though it looks like a pan all that is really happening is the driving of the taxi.  It should called be a “natural pan”.

Next, we are looking at Michel and Patricia inside the taxi then we are looking through Michel’s eyes again as a passenger.  Michel is yelling at the driver for all the mistakes he is making.  During each insult or between a few insults there are jump shots to the same position.  At first I saw no point in it but at a closer looked I noticed that each insult the cab was in a different location so the jumps shots were used as a way to fast forward time and it also showed that Michel was being rude throughout the that time.

The next shot seems to be a little longer because the taxi is parked.  This was when Michel gets out the taxi to walk down the block to talk to someone.  Instead of following Michel to see who is he talking to and what he is talking about, the camera is stationed in one spot and we see Michel talk through the taxi windows on the left side in a frame within a frame shot.  It is obvious that the camera man is sitting in the front right seat.  I know this because we see Michel’s conservation through the end of the front left window even though the camera is facing more towards the back window (also notice the driver is leaning forward as to not be in the way because his shadow can be seen on the seat).  Also through these windows we can tell half of the taxi is parked in the middle of the street.  While Michel is talking, everyday people are walking past the taxi.  I know they are everyday people and not extras because most of them keep looking inside of the taxi as if they see something interesting and some even look at Michel.  If they were extras they would have walked past as if nothing happened.  I believe Godard wanted to capture this.  If he didn’t he would have had the camera either follow Michel or focus on Patricia.  The camera stays in place as Michel walks back to cab.  As he is getting in, there is a jump cut to the next shot of him sitting down. This jump cut unlike the others in this scene had no point in my opinion except to frustrate me and make me think on why Godard did this.

What happens now is really strange.  Michel is in the cab and he tells Patricia that Antonio left five minute ago.  She responds by asking “The friend who owes you money?” which is a normal response but is said after a jump cut.  The jump cut is also not that big of a problem but the continuity of location is.  When Michel told her about Antonio, the background showed that they were still in the same area as before.  When Patricia asked the question the background seemed to be a totally different area.  I understand the cab was moving again but there wasn’t a continuity of location.

The conversation continues then the next shot is like the beginning where Michel is insulting the driver.  But after the jump cut instead of another insult, Michel is talking to Patricia.  Then there is another jump cut of him insulting the driver.  Then there is another of him talking to Patricia.  After that, I was expecting a jump to an insult but the camera cuts to Michel and Patricia talking in the cab with the camera facing them.  During that conversation there are four more jump cuts in the same position.

After that conversation, the camera cuts to Michel getting out the cab then it follows him as he runs to a girl on the streets and lifts up her skirt.  Lastly, instead of following Michel back to the cab, the camera cuts to him getting out of the cab to his final destination.

There was one little thing in this scene that didn’t really coincide with the New Wave and that was the non-diegetic chase like music. On the other hand though, if this scene was shot without jump cuts and just straight forward, I believe there would not have been music but since the scene was shot in a wacky way, they added wacky music.  All other aspects of this scene were definitely New Wave.  The jump cuts, natural lighting, location shooting, dialogues that added nothing to the narrative, spontaneity, and the realness of using unknown actors went against traditional filming which is what New Wave films did.