French Cinema

L’ image et le mot…

À Bout de Souffle (Breathless) – 1959


 “With Sergei Eisenstein`s Battleship Potemkin (1925) the most celebrated film ever made, and probably the more influential of the two, Jean-Luc Godard`s A bout de souffle–literally, “out of breath”; in the States, irrelevantly called Breathless-helped establish and define, for themselves and others, the nouvelle vague-the ripping movement that stormed French cinema, overthrowing the reigning ‘Tradition of Quality’ and its academic, refined, meticulously crafted objets d`art. The movement denoted freedom: freedom from the constraints of conventional, worked-through and tied-up narrative; freedom of personal expression; the freedom of roving and penetrating inquiry-and formally encompassing all these, a freedom of camera motion scarcely seen since Dziga Vertov took to the streets in the ‘20s to record the pulsating synergy of Soviet life.

These young upstarts drew inspiration from Renoir`s lifetime of personal expression, from Hollywood professionalism and (especially in screwball comedies, westerns and noirs) glints of anarchy, and from Rossellini`s use of camera-for instance, in Germany, Year Zero (1947)-as character, even the main character, rather than as mere observer. Theirs was another French Revolution, sweeping out such “royalists” as Autant-Lara and Clément, who at the time were enthroned as arbiters of filmmaking form and taste.”


January 30, 2008 Posted by | Les Années '50 | , , , , , | Leave a comment