Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Weekend of French Tragedy

Above is one of the most famous images from François Truffaut's Jules and Jim if not from the entire French New-Wave. The film was just one of two films that I watched this weekend with tragic results, the other being the equally beautiful and tragic Contempt by fellow Frenchman, Jean-Luc Godard, which is about the process of making a film, though not in the same way that Fellini's 8 1/2 or Truffaut's Day for Night is about the making of motion pictures.

Godard has a much more subversive goal in his film. He tells the story of a love triangle that develops between the writer and his wife, along with the producer of the film. Much in the same way that Jules and Jim has the two titled men pining after Catherine. Despite the leauges of differences between the two films, at their core, in their essence are fairly similar.
Shot in a grandiose Cinemascope (which is what Kubrick shot his '68 masterpiece, 2001 in) and some of the most breathtaking technicolor ever put on film Godard's film is simply breathtaking. At times the score outshines the film, in that it plays as a score for the film that the crew in the film (including Germany's great, Fritz Lang, as director) is making, rather than the film Godard is making.
On the flip side of this, Truffaut shot Jules in Jim in a playful, nearly hand-held, style black and white, much to the style of A Hard Day's Night would later be shot. In the midst of this, however, he interweaves pieces of film that look as if they could be pieces of old home movies or documentary footage as well.
The two films above are amongst the greatest films of the French New Wave, rendering them amongst the greatest films ever made. I would highly recomend these films to anyone who asked, and to anyone reading this.

1 comment:

Weaverman said...

As you say, two great films. Generally I much prefer Truffaut to Godard and really only like two of Jean-Luc's movies (I spoke to him briefly in London while he was on his way to see SOUND OF MUSIC) and LE MEPRIS (Contempt) is one of these (the other is ALPHAVILLE) In the Truffaut the pretty little song that Jeanne Moreau sings is one of the most charming moments in the whole of French cinema.