Day 40: France & Godard

Recently, I finished watching Stanley Kubrick’s films (except for Eyes Wide Shut, which is inaccessible in Singapore). So, I decided to focus on another director’s body of work, and I settled with Jean-Luc Godard. Maybe, I was feeling guilty for not watching enough French films when I was studying near Paris for 6 months. Maybe, I wanted to improve my French. But, I think my main reason for the choice was that I have never delved into French New Wave (Nouvelle Vague) films before. My prior experience was only with “Jules et Jim” by François Truffaut, which was also within the past year.

So, the first Godard film that I saw was “Bande à Part” (Band of Outsiders). I have always been fascinated by the dancing sequence at the cafe after seeing it being used in the band Nouvelle Vague’s video. The moment came across instantaneous, un-choreographed (which it certainly isn’t), waving some sort of magic.

After watching “Bande à Part”, “A Bout de Souffle” (Breathless) and “Une Femme Est Une Femme” (A Woman is a Woman), I still have not got the hang of French New Wave movement. What particular characteristics define French New Wave films? Consulting Wikipedia didn’t help either. Perhaps, after more exploration of Godard’s works (and then Truffaut, Jacques Demy, Agnès Varda etc), such categorisation would become obsolete. By the way, I think it’s impossible to watch every single films of Godard (unlike Kubrick)! I’m targeting his Nouvelle Vague catalogue first.

Along the way, I’ve been trying to improve my French by watching these film DVDs with a dictionary! It’s uneasy concentrating over two things: 1) understanding storyline, 2) understanding French without subtitles. Sometimes, mid-way, I would just dump my dictionary and dedicate myself entirely to the storyline. Thankfully, 90% of the time, I can’t catch what the actors are saying, so that means less time on rewinding certain parts of the movie!


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Olivia Griselda

A photographer & filmmaker based in Singapore.

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