Sunday, November 23, 2008

WHAT I LEARNED FROM THE GODARD CLIPS





The most iinteresting thing I learned was the importance of making the audience fall in love with the stars. For Godard it's not enough that the stars look good, they have to look so incredibly good that the audience wants to shoot their spouses and sell their kids into slavery so they can make passionate love to the star.



The second thing I learned is that seducing the audience -- making the audience fall in love with the stars -- has structural importance in a film. In Godard's best films, seduction isn't part of the film, it IS the film! The seduction is the important thing, not the plot. What I'm saying here is  that Godard identified the most important element of cinema storytelling, then streamlined his plots so that only that element was emphasized. He figured out what was most important, then delivered it in the most efficient way possible. Brilliant!




The third thing I learned from Godard was that audience seduction is intellectually engaging. Seduction doesn't mean you're dumbing the film down. In the real world falling in love heightens our senses and makes us see new meaning in every detail of life. We adopt new ideas and shed old ones. Life acquires new flavor and interest. If you can make an audience fall in love with the star like Godard did, then you're awakening their intellect, not putting it to sleep!



The fourth and last thing I learned is the importance of creating an image that represents the seduction. In "Breathless" the image was Belmondo and Seberg flirting with each other on the Champs-Elysees while she sold Herald Tribunes. It was unforgettable! The audience was seduced, and now it had a lasting image to remember the seduction by.


Actually, there's a fifth lesson but I can't think of a way to compress it into a few words. I'll write about it sometime in the future when I can devote a whole post to it.



By the way, thinking about Godard reminds me all over again of what a big difference stars and a good director make! Here's (above) a couple of British actors attempting to re-create part of the bedroom scene in "Breathless." They're OK, but compare the strangulation scene here (above) to the one below...



What a difference!



11 comments:

patrick said...

Hey Eddie, Here is a blog about 60's French cinema, music and pop culture. Right now they are talking about Godard films!

http://franceyeye.blogspot.com/

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Wow! It looks great! I bookmarked it. Many thanks!

oppo said...

I've never been interested in seduction, so maybe that's why Godard doesn't appeal to me as muchas Truffaut.

(BTW, something's still wrong with that Mark Kausler link. Tim Biskup's is fine.)

Anonymous said...

I've never been interested in seduction, so maybe that's why Godard doesn't appeal to me as muchas Truffaut."

But...but--Truffaut is as much or more into seduction as Godard!

Truffaut's view of humainty as it is portrayed on film is much warmer. Godard was/is interested in images for their own sake, and the effect they have on film, on a screen, and has a pretty bleak outlook. Truffaut was a total, undying romantic.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Oppo: The real point I was making is that it's a good idea to know what idea or feeling you want to convey, so that you can subordinate everything else to it.

Thanks for reminding me about Mark's link. I just fixed it!

Anon: True about Truffaut, but some of Godard's early films have lots of warmth, as you can see in some of the clips and pictures I put up.

trevor thompson said...

Gotta agree with Tarantino on this one: McBride's 'Breathless' was great, as was Godard's.

They're almost two completely different movies.

- trevor.

Phantom Spitter said...

Great post! By the way, what became of that "enlightening article" that you couldn't bare to give away for free? Found a buyer yet?

pappy d said...

That's a cool insight, Eddie.

Seduction is what really interests people in their late teens/early 20's. The young cineastes of that time probably had swallowed more bullshit from pop media on that topic than any other. It's a perfect subject for film realism.

Deniseletter said...

What difference,indeed!Better is Godard than the British vid.In the British close-up,can't perceive the dramatic value of the man's hands, her neck and face,loosing it's effect.The French one has more intensity.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Trevor: Is the McBride version worth seeing?

Phantom: Still keeping that one close to the vest. Haven't attempted to sell it yet.

Pappy: I meant mental seduction, which is almost ageless.

Denise: I love it when two filmmakers attempt the same script!

pappy d said...

D'oh!