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Challenges to Realism – Nouvelle Vague – a Quick Diary Entry ..

"The story is stupid but it’s really well written" – "Look at me, look how good I am, see what I did there!"

My impression of the nouvelle vague is a very distancing one (a word I’ve heard and read alot this week), each film I have seen distincly reminds me of Tarantino. The disposable view of human life, the mundane conversation and the self-refelxivity of the filmmaking process within the film. The exposure to the mechanical artistry of filmmaking is very apparent.

The lecture this week was very interesting and stimulating.  It was very early though for thoughts on Saussure’s theories on modern linguistics and Jakobsen on poetry.  A nice picture of Ann’s cat, a definite theme it seems for this module, being a cat person myself I don’t mind too much.  Thoughts on thereading and the Bordwell idea of parametric narration, I would have to agree.  From a songwriting point of view and doing the occassional bit of creative writing sometimes you do just set excericises for yourself to see if they work, and it strikes me that Godard has picked twelve methods of filmmaking and a pretty basic story and tried to see if it works.  The reading of the film and the themes etc. comes afterwards, Godard seems more interested in the filmmaking process, and very studious of it he is too.  He is obviously well read in terms of film history (as he wrote alot of it himself I suppose), something that you can link with Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese.  Steve Cannon’s viewpoint can be understood, however I get the impression that Godard does not care for his characters enough.  I wouldn’t like to say it’s ego driven but you get the feeling that the most important person is Godard when watching a Godard film, as you do with Tarantino, and there are countless others.

After the lecture I continued the reading.  I was also drawn to do some research on Emile Zola, a clear influence on Godard and the Nouvelle Vague, having read some French literature before (Satre, Dumas, Hugo, in English of course!!) it was interesting to find out more about that aspect of French culture and the literary tradition’s affect on the film sphere. And I have watched The Life of Emile Zola, starring Paul Muni, Scarface himself, very much a Hollywoodisation of the life of Zola and Cezanne, it would have been very different if Godard had made the film I’m sure.  Comparisons and influences within the film and the films are rife also.  From Jackie Brown to Goodfellas, British New Wave to even documentary, as mentioned in the seminar.  So I suppose you could say I was stimulated by the screening this week, even if funnily enough I didn’t particularly enjoy the film!!

The seminar itself seemed to benefit from the lack of attendance (maybe not something particularly great however) as all those present were willing to contribute a comment on the excerot shown.  I was pleased to find that my own link with Tarantino was not unfounded and the name Band a part comes from a Godard film, I should have discovered that for myself really.  The consensus in the group seemed to be that the films were particularly pretentious and unengaging on a narrative, emotional and empathetic level, unlike say Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.  Although I raised the question that maybe that is due to the lead characters in the French films speakin en français and with Albert Finney sharing our mother tongue we pick up the subtle nuances in his voice rather than merely reading the cold subtitles. 

 The endless use of filmic techniques I believe ultimately atempts to find a more psychological realism within the characters rather than showing what seems real in terms of observation.  I think I would say I prefer the films and directors that the French Nouvelle Vague have influenced rather than the films of Godard, Truffaut and that ilk.  However, I can appreciate them, as I understand you cannot have something you like without it’s influences.  Whilst I’m not a particularly big fan of Elvis Presley I understand you had to have him and Jailhouse Rock to have got the Beatles, and for that I’m sure we all should be eternally grateful.  As without Vivre sa vie you we wouldn’t now be able to watch Pulp Fiction.

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