An analysis of ‘A bout de Souffle”

0

Â

What I found most interesting about the film was how you can view it as a precursor to modern cinema, and how the techniques are applied today. It’s typical in its themes, namely sex and violence, and it knows it’s a movie. This allows odd chains of intertextuality, where an actor (Belmondo) is playing a character (Michel) who in turn is playing an actor (Bogart) who played characters. It is a confusing chain, but it is a film not meant to be simply laid out for the viewer.

  The use of jump cuts gives a disjointed feel to the film, which you can possibly view as challenging, but it often just feels stylish, and flows with the tone of the movie, a difficult task to perform well. The long takes, such as the “neck” shot in the car, make perfect use of jump cuts to connote a sense of time passing, whilst keeping focused on the subject. When jump cuts are used to show the murder of the police officer, they give the feeling that the death is so meaningless, almost comical. In the long period that passes after Michel is on the run, I never cared about
 

What I found most interesting about the film was how you can view it as a precursor to modern cinema, and how the techniques are applied today. It's typical in its themes, namely sex and violence, and it knows it's a movie. This allows odd chains of intertextuality, where an actor (Belmondo) is playing a character (Michel) who in turn is playing an actor (Bogart) who played characters. It is a confusing chain, but it is a film not meant to be simply laid out for the viewer.

   The use of jump cuts gives a disjointed feel to the film, which you can possibly view as challenging, but it often just feels stylish, and flows with the tone of the movie, a difficult task to perform well. The long takes, such as the "neck" shot in the car, make perfect use of jump cuts to connote a sense of time passing, whilst keeping focused on the subject. When jump cuts are used to show the murder of the police officer, they give the feeling that the death is so meaningless, almost comical. In the long period that passes after Michel is on the run, I never cared about his murder of the officer, because it was edited to specifically take a minor role in the film, and I felt this was a very bold and declarative statement, especially on the importance of violence in cinema.

   Another thing I really loved in 'A bout de Souffle' was the role of genders. Michel and Patricia repeatedly get stuck in the translation trap, with her asking "Qu'est-ce que c'est…?/What is…?". This can be interpreted as purely her American nationality hindering her understanding, but I also read it as the lack of communication between the genders, as when Michel responds, he almost always says something different to his original statement. There is also the scene where Patricia interviews the novelist Parvulesco, which is rife with references to the communication between genders, or rather, lack of it.

   By making the movie in a way where everything about it is self-aware that it is purely fictional, Godard creates the possibility for Michel to be pleased when Patricia betrays him. He wants the thrill of the chase, to run away with her and live on stolen money, like in the movies. But he is just as happy when he is betrayed by his femme fatale, going so far as to refuse a weapon and pathetically run away from the police, only to be shot in the street. "Between grief and nothing", Michel will choose nothing, and he orchestrates his own hard-boiled ending to the movie of his life. I loved the fact that by accepting itself as a work of cinema, 'A bout de Souffle' was so free to act however it wanted, and create such influential, original techniques which inspire to this day.