Andrea Mariani | Auliannisa Hermawan
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Auliannisa Hermawan on Breathless (1960)

It is not material or plot that makes the film special but how the material is treated or in other words it is not the content that is the most important but emphasizes on how to package its contents. In Breathless, Godard uses a simple criminal theme by shooting on streets, cafes and apartments in Paris. Godard only uses whatever lighting found on the set. He also sometimes allows his players to improvise with his dialogue. Every day, Godard would go to the streets, then write a brief summary of the scene he wanted. Godard gave the script to the actors and asked them to improvise as they pleased. Godard just had to record it and arrange it into a long film.


This kind of production style made Godard’s films very cheap, with such cheap production costs, Godard can submit a proposal to a producer to finance his film. Finally, Godard used his distinctive editing style, jump cut to make Breathless a very unique film and became a material for discussion of cinema observers everywhere. Breathless is actually Godard’s development of Francois Truffaut’s story ideas. Unexpectedly, Godard’s improvisation actually produced a two-hour film. At that time in France, to be considered as a commercial product, films could not be longer than 90 minutes. Instead of cutting one scene or sequence in full, Godard chose to streamline the film’s scenes.


Parts that are considered boring or not important are immediately cut. The scenes that are considered important are compressed to the point where the scene of people crossing the road will only show people on one side of the road then suddenly appear on the other side of the road. As a consequence, Breathless looks very tight and dense, there is no pause for the audience to ‘breathe’.


Minimal budget that makes Breathless special. Godard really must be creative in his film production so as not to exceed the funds set. The camera used is a handheld camera with black and white celluloid. Technical limitations such as the absence of dolly which is rails to move the camera, are tricked by placing the camera in the trolleys to create the same effect. Filming was done outdoors to, again, reduce costs. He used long shot, group shot, high angle, eye level angle, and low angle.



Michel’s character is described as being reckless and careless without being able to overcome the problems posed by his actions. Michel did everything he did other than because he was poor, he also did what he did because he was inspired by a film player who played in gangster films. Michael’s costume which consist of a suit, shirt, tie, glasses and hat shows that he is an obsessed criminal because his glasses and hat help him to disguise himself. It also showed that he is from the middle class. He was also seen as a criminal, seen from him stealing, and killing police.

Auliannisa Hermawan on Sous Les Toits de Paris (1930)

Love story in old Paris

The film showed a typical lifestyle in Paris at that time, like Gatsby in America, with vanity and luxury. A simple love story told by the director but touched the audients a lot. A guy, named Albert, makes living by singing in a lower-class quarter in Paris. One day he meets a graceful lady Pola, the street singer Albert falls in love with the Romanian party girl Pola, who is the companion of the gangster Fred. One night, Albert meets with Pola again when her key was just stolen by Fred, Pola is afraid to return home, so Albert brings her to his room and they spend the night together, with Albert sleeping on the floor and Pola on his bed. Early in the morning, the pickpocket guy brings a bag with stolen pieces and asks Albert to keep the bag for him. When the police busts Albert’s room and finds the stolen goods, he is arrested and sent to jail. Meanwhile Fred travels so that Pola seeks comfort with Louis, who is a friend of Albert, and they stay together. When the real thief is arrested by the police, he confesses that Albert is innocent. Albert is released and seeks out Pola immediately, at that time, Fred returns to Paris and also seeks out Pola that is with Louis. The three men all love and want Pola, so only fight can solve this kind of problem. Finally, Albert gives up and helps his friend fulfill his wishes to be with Pola in the end.



The story may seem a little bit thin and weak in nowadays perspective, but at that time, no doubt it was a hit for the integrated narrative, impressed musical comedy and romantic atmosphere. People can catch a sort of French romantics and fashion from this film, which is based on 1930s, in the middle of two world wars, the youth relieve themselves to enhance the new world and booming industry also expand their imagination to approach new lifestyle. We can see all kinds of cultural prosperity at that time around the world, including China and the US. Although the US faced the big depression, but Hollywood was born due people need escape from the reality and entertain themselves. As in China, especially in Shanghai, thousands of pop stars shown up with films and gramophone records, dancing and clubbing with nightlife was a pop culture and soon became a symbol of upper class. While the film is mainly describing the lower-class entertainment, singing songs with the street singer and standing besides the bar with a drink, it accommodates many audients to feel themselves in the sequences as a common people living in a metropolis, but it does not become realistic depictions of circumstances, but a poetic romance, for which reality is only one aspect of life. So it is a fantastic attempt to combine romanticism, realism and idealism all together.



This is the first sound film by René Clair in 1930, though it is part sound and part silent, which is very similar to 1927’s “The Jazz Singer”–with a few songs and a bit of dialog but otherwise being essentially a silent film. Characters only speak when they have to; at other times, they use gestures. We could consider it as a bridge from the silent film to sound film, people would easily benefit from the silence and melody.



Although the integration of sound and image is rather primitive in this film, the portions that include song or instrumental music possess a grace and ease of motion, which people could be easily touched, and the song and instrumental music is also a part of the plot, not only convey feeling and motion, but also makes the story vivid and completed.