Bout work and how it fits into the idea

 Bout de Soufflé, an international
success had ‘represented a landmark in cinema history’ (Brody 2009:53)
obtaining the classic Hollywood story of romance and crime. His apparent
philosophy makes him the artist master of reality –creating a world through his
language and consciousness. Goddard’s work embodies the idea of Devries
believing he had ‘authentically written with the camera-stylo’. He prefers
paradoxes, aphorisms and proverbs to storytelling –Goddard challenges the
storytelling of American cinema and development of plots and fluent dialogue
and realizes ‘his intellect must intervene between the reality he confronts on
the streets of Paris and the illusion he renders on the screen’. (Mussman: 62).

Thus, I will be discussing reasons behind his work and how it fits into the
idea of ‘camera-stylo’ and how his talents are seen more as a device than a
method which is now repeated through history.

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There are several aspects of Godard’s style within A Bout de Soufflé
which illustrates the first artist who embodies Astruc’s notion of
‘camera-stylo’. Godard has completely obscured the normal film conventions and
invited the audience into his anarchic world where they escape. Astruc believes
a ‘film-maker/author writes with his camera as a writer writes with his pen’
(Astruc, 1948:22). It could be argued Goddard demonstrates this through a
‘classic American film noir’ (Brody: 59), his inspiration from American cinema
themes departed radically from its genre models and foremost by the methods
with which he filmed it. Moviemaking was an industrial process; however,
Goddard was able to use the commercial apparatus the way an author uses his
pen, and through the mise-en-scene emphasising their vision on the work. Not
only as a critic and philosophical inclination, his practical aspects of the
cinema allowed him to apply ideas to the aesthetic and the technical elements
of his film, resulting in a revolutionary masterpiece. A Bout de Soufflé
embodies ‘a means of expression’ (Astruc, 1948:60) not only through the
storytelling but how Goddard conveys it through the mise-en-scene. For example,
the variation of the shot lengths and the natural lighting further indicate the
low-budget, unprofessional feel of the French New Wave moment. Godard’s camera
seems unrefined at first glance; however, the use of the handheld and slightly
convulsive movement aids the viewers to gain a realistic feel for the film.

This is in contrast to the use of unique lighting that shows up in several
scenes from A Bout de Soufflé. Unable to afford a professional modern setup,
Godard pushed Coutard in a wheelchair to capture many of the scenes which could
reflect the kind of dissatisfaction and resentment with life throughout the
movie (Brody :60), influenced by the lifestyle of France results to a crescendo
here as well as the ‘freedom of movement’ (Brody :63). Not only do we end with
the protagonist dying, but we also end with an insult and inability to
comprehend that insult. The death, the distance between two young lovers, and
the lack of resolution allow the film to feel both real and scandalous which
Goddard and his companions were hoping to achieve. Evidently, Goddard
illustrates “action cinema” (Brody :9). Whereby his creation of A Bout de
Soufflé is a much part of the works meaning as its specific content and style –
an ‘existentialist film’. Thus, Goddard’s work supports Astruc’s idea of the
‘camera-stylo’ –Goddard depicts the ‘tangible allusion’ (Astruc, 1948:20) a
cinema that can be a ‘vehicle of thought’ (Astruc, 1948:20) and chaos,
rendering a ‘psychological and metaphysical overtone'(Astruc, 1948:21). He
draws attention to the artifice of cinema due to the fact he breaks the true-life
convention of cinema that it must make the hallucination of reality. His notion
of thoughts not only illustrates a unique way of creating cinema but a
dramatized world in front of the camera.

 

Thus, it is evident that Goddard challenges the traditional storytelling
structure, he reflects a director’s personal vision, as part of ‘papa cinema’
he demonstrates the way the beginning of auteur theory organizes a film
criticism and to be able to rebel against the French filmmaking establishment.

Indeed, A Bout de Soufflé embodies unique qualities of ‘generationalism,
storytelling innovations and editing’ (W. Roman 2009:109). This narrative
structure of A Bout de Soufflé is challenged –we are only able to see the
obscure direction and motive. Both Michel and Patricia lack a defined goal; the
action that occurs does not have a direct response, which precedes it. It could
be argued that the most divergent element of Godard’s technique ‘concerned the
script, or rather, the lack of one’ (Astruc, 1948:10) and this is what made
Goddard’s work ‘camera-stylo’. His narrative itself is presented through random
events rather than a sequential chain of events –the ‘idiosyncratic scripting’
(Astruc, 1948:11) had produced a ‘spontaneous method’ (Astruc, 1948:11) which
ultimately resulted in ‘actors quoting Goddard rather than himself’ which is
evident through Michel always seen to be running away from someone which
embodies Goddard ‘naturalistic or physiological motivated way’ (Astruc,
1948:11) of embodying himself in the character of Michel.  As the film progresses fragments of his
identity and his emotions are revealed through other forms of media within the
film rather than directly through the actual plot. Significantly, Goddard’s use
of loose structure narrative is depicted through his use of mirror effects. The
structure of the film lacks convention as the narrative is not revealed in a
linear form and rather presenting the details of the narrative as a reflection
of a certain event. A Bout de Soufflé ideas are seen in one instance and they
are reflected back as we progress through the film. For example, we see Michel
in a car chase with the police, we hear gunshots without witnessing anything
being fired then foreshadows to Michel again being pursued by police, gunshots
are heard and eventually kill him at the end. Goddard’s use of mirroring events
conveys a film of reflexivity of ideas and camera movement.

 

Goddard’s techniques were not merely means of showing the story, but
also telling it. His ‘bizarre state of mind’ (Brody :9), has kept Goddard to
allow his audience to not be mere passive viewers, but to have a film-viewing
experience filled with the total sensory immersion in the story. This is seen
through his popular jump cuts which he challenged rather than portraying a
smooth digression of editing, with every cut following a logical pattern.

Goddard challenges the generic formulary for storytelling, and instead relied
on unexpected, fragmented quick jumps in editing, for example in the scene of
Patricia walking down into Michel’s car. When we compare the frame before while
she’s walking out and after the cut whereby she twists her body around, the
audience is able to witness a huge difference between the two frames. In the
traditional continuity editing a cutaway reaction shot would usually be
implemented between the two separate frames –masking the jump. This raises
questions whereby if an audience is so used to discontinuous images, then why
do jump cuts pose such a problem in film-making. It could be argued that ‘there
are limits to the kind of juxtapositions…can make this way –I can’t jump
forward or backward in time’ (Murch 2001:60). Suggestively, despite the
apparent unreality of the film experience, it is still a representation of
reality and thus bound by temporal laws this may go some way to explain why a
jump cut can manipulate temple perception to be so jarring. Goddard deploys the
‘camera-stylo’ through his clear distinction between the separate shots whereby
Goddard perhaps intentionally cooked from one take to another identical one. It
could be argued that Goddard had done is because of different performances in
each take, however looking past the minor differences there are similarities in
the mise-en-scene, in particularly the car positioned in front and the shop
window seen in the back. This allows the audience to make sense of the
free-dimensional space of action. This results in a good action to follow when
emotions are combined in a story, they have more value than aspects such as
eye-trace and three- dimensional space of action. We are able to see that
Goddard has made good use of elements within the frame of each take to carry
the focus of attention across the car –as the car disrupts her line of sight-
given the motion of the car, the audiences natural instinct is to follow the
path of motion from left to right across the two-dimensional plain screen which
carries our focus of attention to the middle of frame. Goddard not only
expertly manipulated the eye trace but to ensure the flow of movement of the car
is continued with a bicycle. By jumping into the visually interesting moments
of the scene that without regard of continuity, Goddard enhances the rhythm of
the sequence and draws attention to the nature of the relationship between two
characters which in turn only helps the story. Goddard is an example of an
artist who has enhanced the emotional story and rhythm, his use of a match cut
is done to continue a visual or thematic motive from one shot to another
completely different one. Goddard’s has led a legacy that continues until this
day, the jump cut is now an accepted transition, which could be arguably seen
as a device rather than a method, significantly supporting the idea that
Breathless ‘is the first work authentically written with the camera-stylo’.

 

In summary, Goddard has allowed A Bout de Soufflé to break the barriers
–films have eventually been made in the real world in naturalistic settings
rather than in an artificial studio. There is a merge of some aspects what had
traditionally been called documentary films with fictional narrative films that
have been made in studios. It could be concluded that Goddard has shown how his
‘methods were inseparable from his aesthetic’ supporting the idea of being the
first work which demonstrates the ‘camera-stylo’. Therefore, Goddard makes his
presence felt all the time as the individual behind the film –breaking
Hollywood’s unwritten rule about not revealing oneself as the director. He
never lets the viewers forget that we are in the process of seeing the visual
film.