Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Astruc + Godard = Breathless

It was quite refreshing last week to read Truffaut’s treatment for Breathless and then to watch the film within the larger context of Astruc’s essay La caméra-stylo.  What became immediately apparent in comparing the treatment to the film is that everything that is interesting, fresh and original in the film originates from the camera itself.  Almost as if channeling Astruc’s ideas, Godard took what was a fairly bland treatment and, with his camera, wrote something wholly otherwise which rejected the common practice of effacing the unique qualities inherent to film in order to function merely as a visual means for representing literature.  Breathless could not be approximated by any other medium and, because of this, made apparent all the ways that film differs from every other form of art.  By writing with the camera, Godard destroys the insistence on the invisible (editing) and brings the facticity of the form to the foreground.  How do you write a treatment for a film when the main character is the camera-stylo itself? 


1 comment:

  1. Chris,
    According to Richard Brody, a number of French critics at the time made explicit or implicit reference to Astruc's "caméra-stylo" in their reviews of A BOUT DE SOUFFLE. One critic claimed that the film was "the first work authentically written with a caméra-stylo." Another describes Godard as "a young man who writes authentically everything that he is thinking directly in images." (See EVERYTHING IS CINEMA, p. 73.) I will assume here that the reference to authenticity has an existentialist basis. We will discuss this aspect in relation to VIVRE SA VIE.