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Jean-Paul Goddard as an Extension of Film Noir


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Hi all!

 

I have been thinking, as I have been watching the last several films this weekend, about the morality of the diegesis of the Film Noir movement films (yes, I consider them a movement which created a style and genre within the decades it was active, much like movements in the the more stationary visual arts). There has been talk of the protagonists being morally grey persons trying to navigate a corrupt world (I paraphrase) in the notes and lecture. In this sense Film Noir could be thought of as a mirror of the modernist view that the rules of morality have been broken, or are widely not followed. Hence the rampant violence, greed, sex, and general vice. The protagonists are, by comparison to the world at large, heros by simply following the rules some of the time. 

 

The next challenge for me is how to relate this to the works of Jean-Paul Goddard in the 60's, which are arguably part of the evolution from Film Noir in the 50's. Goddard is definitely influenced by Film Noir and heavily uses elements of the movement. There is gratuitous violence (e.g. bloody car-crash scenes litter the sides of the road in Pierrot le Fou), sex, light play in the style of Noir Expressionism, a focus on how the protagonist will react rather than the resolution of a mystery or plot. Even so, there seems to be a shift in thought from the social and moral rules being ignored, to a world where the rules don't exist or have ceased to make sense. This, I feel, comes from the separate influence of Avant Garde film (I consider this film thought of as art work and self-referential rather than entertainment) which serves to make several of his films surreal and/or non-sensical, but within the work as a whole represents the new sentiments of people in this era towards the world they live in. 

 

I also wonder if this shift in thought, if that is indeed the case, would be related to the Korean and Vietnam wars which were occurring in the 50's and 60's.  

 

Does anyone else have thoughts on classifying Film Noir as a movement like other visual arts, looking at Film Noir as a commentary on the view of the world via social rules, and whether or not Goddard can be considered a natural progression from that?  

 

Also, does anyone know of other films that would support this hypothesis?

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Hi all!

 

The next challenge for me is how to relate this to the works of Jean-Paul Goddard in the 60's, 

Just a small correction, it's Jean-Luc Godard :)

 

Not just him, but other French directors part of, or linked to the Nouvelle Vague made Noir-ish crime films. Truffaut's SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER, Becker NE TOUCHE PAS LE GRISBI, Melville's BOB LE FLAMBEUR, Dassin's RIFIFI and Malle's ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS are good examples. 

 

Godard is without a doubt my 'favorite' director, as in that his films set me on the path of really going deep into cinema, and try and understand it as an art form. But at the same time, I'm not even going close to saying that I understand his films, his theories and motivations. It's obvious American films, and especially crime films have influenced him greatly, but how and to what extent is essentially still mystifying to me. The guy remains an enigma.

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Just a small correction, it's Jean-Luc Godard :)

 

Not just him, but other French directors part of, or linked to the Nouvelle Vague made Noir-ish crime films. Truffaut's SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER, Becker NE TOUCHE PAS LE GRISBI, Melville's BOB LE FLAMBUER, Dassin's RIFIFI and Malle's ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS are good examples. 

 

Godard is without a doubt my 'favorite' director, as in that his films set me on the path of really going deep into cinema, and try and understand it as an art form. 

 

Boy, do I feel embarrassed. ^^;;; I blame temporary alien hand syndrome.

 

Godard is one of my favorite directors for the same reason. I have a Studio Art background, and we studied him in a very art film context. Much of how I read his films is in exploring film as an art medium. I will definitely have to take a look at these other films! Thanks for the suggestions!

 

I definitely believe that the filmmakers of the French "New Wave" were making film noir. Think 'Breathless.'

 

It's been a while since I've seen Breathless, but it is one of Goddard's earlier works and much more conventional in it's format and style than some of his later works. It does have a very Film Noir style to it, but from what I can recall it seemed lighter, not as full of corruption and vice, but I would have to re-watch it to say anything for sure. Do you have specific examples of why you think it is a Film Noir film rather than part of a movement related to, but not part of, Film Noir?

 

 

Thanks for both of your input! 

 

I suppose because the course is focused on FIlm Noir itself, and I take the viewpoint of Noir being a movement, the context of Noir, not only during the making of these films, but also in the years before and after as well as in other parts of the world are of interest to me. On that note, has anyone else seen the documentary on the entire history of Cinema across the world? I forget the name of it, but it was on Netflix a few months ago and came in a miniseries like format. 

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 On that note, has anyone else seen the documentary on the entire history of Cinema across the world? I forget the name of it, but it was on Netflix a few months ago and came in a miniseries like format. 

THE STORY OF FILM, 10 part documentary by Mark Cousins. He takes a pretty radical approach to film history, challenging the notion that Hollywood 'classics' are classics in the true sense. I loved it, and it really set me on a path to widen my film horizon even further. 

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It's been a while since I've seen Breathless, but it is one of Goddard's earlier works and much more conventional in it's format and style than some of his later works. It does have a very Film Noir style to it, but from what I can recall it seemed lighter, not as full of corruption and vice, but I would have to re-watch it to say anything for sure. Do you have specific examples of why you think it is a Film Noir film rather than part of a movement related to, but not part of, Film Noir?
 
Jean-Paul Belmond's character is certainly the doomed protagonist and Jean Seburg is the femme fatal in that she is his lover n trusted confidant but imitably gives him up to the police. I'd have to watch the film again myself but if I remember correctly there were lots of absurd/surrealistic scenes and dioalogue, cinematographic chiaroscuro and unusual camera angles. 

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It's been a while since I've seen Breathless, but it is one of Goddard's earlier works and much more conventional in it's format and style than some of his later works. It does have a very Film Noir style to it, but from what I can recall it seemed lighter, not as full of corruption and vice, but I would have to re-watch it to say anything for sure. Do you have specific examples of why you think it is a Film Noir film rather than part of a movement related to, but not part of, Film Noir?

 

Jean-Paul Belmond's character is certainly the doomed protagonist and Jean Seburg is the femme fatal in that she is his lover n trusted confidant but imitably gives him up to the police. I'd have to watch the film again myself but if I remember correctly there were lots of absurd/surrealistic scenes and dioalogue, cinematographic chiaroscuro and unusual camera angles. 

Godard is testing and stretching the limits of cinema as a narrative medium in BREATHLESS. It has many moment where he breaks the then standard cinematic conventions, like characters speaking directly into the camera, very long takes, and most famously, the use of jump cuts. Belmondo's character is modeled after Humphrey Bogart. In one scene Belmondo goes to the cinema and sees a couple of stills from a Bogart movie. He watches admiringly and then brushes his lips with his thumb like Bogart often did in his films. My guess is BREATHLESS is basically a humorous pastiche of American gangster films, but also a serious attempt to put cinema on the map as a (possibly radical) art form with its own unique characteristics and possibilities. 

 

But maybe I've got it all wrong. Godard is an enigma.

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Godard is testing and stretching the limits of cinema as a narrative medium in BREATHLESS. It has many moment where he breaks the then standard cinematic conventions, like characters speaking directly into the camera, very long takes, and most famously, the use of jump cuts. Belmondo's character is modeled after Humphrey Bogart. In one scene Belmondo goes to the cinema and sees a couple of stills from a Bogart movie. He watches admiringly and then brushes his lips with his thumb like Bogart often did in his films. My guess is BREATHLESS is basically a humorous pastiche of American gangster films, but also a serious attempt to put cinema on the map as a (possibly radical) art form with its own unique characteristics and possibilities. 

 

But maybe I've got it all wrong. Godard is an enigma.

Yup. The scenes with him thumbing his lip are forever imbedded in me mind.

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