Oh God, Art School – Breathless and Jules and Jim

Another film class essay!

Can I just say this – OH GOD I HATE FRENCH NEW WAVE. Nothing makes sense or is even necessarily real. And people are eccentric for no reason other than to be cool and unique. They are ultra-hipsters before they even knew that was a thing.

And we had to watch, like, SEVERAL French New Wave films in class. It was work, let me tell you. I was in a state of simmering rage for all of it. And when (SPOILERS FOR JULES AND JIM – highlight the text to read it) Catherine kills Jim at the end of the film, I was all “Why did I even watch this?!”

I understand that directors/film makers were experimenting with new ways to present narratives in film, and trying new things is great, this style was just not for me.

I don’t have much to say about the essay. Thank goodness this one was about the techniques used in these films and not something less technical, because this essay could easily have been a rant. I probably would have just written “Stop trying so hard to be cool” over and over until I’d filled two pages.

Jean Luc Godard (Breathless) and François Truffaut (Jules and Jim)

By Megan Koznek

  1. Voice-overs are most often examples of non-diegetic sound. Voice-over allows the story to move quickly over action without needing to show the viewer everything, like in Jules and Jim where the narrator tells us what is happening when Jules draws a girl on the café table, and tries to buy it. Trying to buy the table is told, not shown, so it doesn’t take up much time, but provides a cute, irreverent aspect of Jules’ character, which is important to the film. In Breathless Michael talks at the camera (and thus the viewer) in the beginning of the film, providing a strange on-screen narration/voice-over.
  2. Jump cuts can draw the viewer’s attention to specific moments and make them really stand out as important. Jump cuts also provide the viewer with a jolt of energy regarding the film’s pace. In Jules and Jim, a noticeable jump cut occurs when the title duo are looking at slides and see their statue, and then we jump to them suddenly visiting the statue in real life. In Breathless, an interesting jump cut occurs after Michael steals the car and finds the gun; he mimes shooting it, and we jump to a view of trees, and the sound of gunshots.
  3. Jim and Jules breaks the fourth wall in the scene where Jules tell Jim, “Not this one, Jim.” The words appear as text on the screen in addition to being spoken. The text exclusively addresses the audience. This highlights the importance of the moment and its meaning for the audience. In Breathless, the fourth wall is broken when Michael talks to the camera when he is driving down the road.
  4. The aspect ratio in Jules and Jim (2.35:1) allows the viewer to see that the film has encompassed the three main characters, noticeably in the scene where they are all riding bicycles. In Breathless the aspect ratio is 1.33:1, and it is suited well to all the close-ups we see in the film. A wider aspect ratio would not allow for the closeness this film calls for so often.

Works Cited:




About mckoz

Thinking about going to art school. And traveling the world.
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