Starting with Breathless / Godard

So a long time ago in a post Google refuses to churn up, madkevin recommended this film as a starting point for someone who had no experience with Godard. I watched it, and I loved it, and I wanted to know where to go next and why. This is the bat signal for that mission.

I think my favorite part of the movie was the upper lip tic of the main character, and how that went from seeming awkward at first to being a useful tell for something interesting going on in his mind. A strange thing to focus on, but there it is.

Hey, glad you liked it, LK!

If you like musicals, and want to see the Godard version of a musical, then jump in with A Woman Is A Woman, which was his next chronologically after Breathless.

If you want to see a bit of inside-movies nastiness coupled with some of the greatest widescreen composition ever filmed and a truly amazing Fritz Lang cameo, hunt down the Criterion release of Contempt.

If you want to see more Anna Karina in black & white, watch A Bande Apart (aka Band of Outsiders).

If you want to dive right into the deep end of Godardian weirdness, try Pierrot Le Fou if you like crime fiction, or Alphaville if you like sci-fi.

I’m curious about the musical thing just because of how well he used sound and music in Breathless, but I don’t think I’ve ever been able to sit through any kind of musical with happy results (even fairly conventional versions like the South Park movie). I blame it on childhood trauma.

Contempt sounds fantastic, so I’ll take it from there. Thanks!

I’m a Godard noob, but I recommend Alphaville, which I found sublimely weird and unlike anything else.

Jean Seberg in Breathless is one of my visions of perfect feminine beauty. What a movie, what a light airy freeing moment in the history of the medium.

I found personally found Contempt a slog to get through though I loved Pierrot Le Fou.

Contempt is a movie that requires an understanding of the film industry of the time and the story of it’s own creation to fully appreciate. (That’s why I’m suggesting LK watch the Criterion, because there’s a treasure trove of information on that set.) I don’t want to spoil any of it for LK, so I’ll say no more, but the short version is that Godard took a million bucks of Hollywood cash to make a diatribe against movie industry.

The Criterion disc also features what must be one of the greatest interviews ever, where Godard sits down with Fritz Lang to discuss the difficulties of making movies. Godard - who, by the way, is exactly the kind of 60s French intellectual you imagine he must have been - complains about the hardships of making movies in France, and Fritz Lang says something like “Yeah, that’s really hard. I made movies under the NAZIS.”

Ah, I thought you were being detail oriented in terms of the quality of the print being restored and everything. I’ve now watched Battle of Algiers on six separate occasions, and not once would I have watched the special features had they not been relevant to something I needed for a class. Are these features that I need to watch prior or after the movie, because it sounds like they need to come before. Thanks again.

In order of release – he actually made Le Petit Soldat next, it was just banned for three years.

'65-'67 is peak Godard in my book. I’m reluctant to recommend any of it as a starting point, but then Weekend was my first exposure and it worked out all right for me…

Nah, you can jump in with Contempt. (Also, the picture quality and restoration is amazing on the Criterion, so it was partially about that too.) Realistically, if you’re not in the mood to watch them, you can probably glean what you need from the wikipedia article.

By the way, how great is Battle Of Algiers?

I think what most impressed me recently was its ability to speak cross generationally and reach a relatively young audience. I used parts of it as a reference point for contrasting the concept of revolution vs independence with 13-15 year olds, and Algiers’ choice of imagery for a given moment (the selection process for female suicide bombers with “good hair” and light skin had had immediate connotations for the majority black group, for instance) was given even more life when I had their perspectives to think about. But hey, I don’t want to gush. I just love it when a movie remains so flexible and accessible at different stages in my life.