Women

Godard Breathless in Paris

In the 2003 film The Dreamers, Isabelle says “I entered this world on the Champs-Elysees, 1959. La trottoir du Champs Elysees. And do you know what my very first words were? New York Herald Tribune! New York Herald Tribune!”

Today I tried to reactivate my Filmstruck account only to see a message that said the service is permanently closing down at the end of November this year. I not only was disappointed but also a little enraged that such a good service is coming to an end. I do agree that it wasn’t the optimum film watching experience but the content was so rich and was something that couldn’t be found at other streaming services. I am thankful to filmstruck to introduce me to Andrei Tarkovsky and for providing essentials of Bergman to the masses. There have been countless movies that have been made by many directors but only a few of them have been able to make an impact at a larger scale; These are the ones who decided to break free from the conventional settings and didn’t think twice before trying a new concept and challenged the status quo. Those who had moon shot thinking.

Non-linear story telling(Memento), movie without a story or a plot( Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels), multiple genre( Million Dollar Baby) are few such audacious but arduous exemplary steps, not necessarily the first ones in the direction towards revolutionizing the film theory. The film director is one person who can make or break the film and it’s his discretion how to show the story, characters, plots, and twists. One man who stands out is Jean-Luc Godard who constantly experimented progressively throughout his career and kept on exploring the personal themes in his films. From his debut itself he announced himself on the larger screen; The setting was perfect for the arrival – 1960s France. He said our cinema isn’t influencing the youth, so let youths influence the cinema. His first work was Breathless, and with the use of jump cuts i.e. abrupt transitions between one scene to the other he not only showed how pragmatic he could be but also challenged the archaic notion that movie watching has to be an immersive and emotional experience. Bertolt Brecht already had coined the concept of alienation of the audience and Godard used it wherever pertinent.

Breathless was shot on a minimum budget and Godard didn’t have the permission to shoot the film (strange times). He employed whomever he knew as his film crew and the film was shot on the streets of Paris with the cinematographer sitting on a wheelchair and someone pushing him so he can have the perfect angle. It also established Jean Paul Belmondo and femme fatale Jean Seberg in the French cinema with latter as the finest actress in Europe. The story is simple but well crafted with beauty lying in the streets of Paris of 1960. Comparing contemporary Paris with what it was back then always makes me wonder what if I could somehow transport and see that square or that building at night in person akin to Midnight in Paris.

Breathless culminated into a success story which paved path to young directors who didn’t have large studios or sophisticated equipment. Tangerine, released in 2015, is one such example and the entire film was shot on an iPhone 5S camera.

Godard couldn’t stand the passivity and wanted movies to be an intellectual stimulation exercise that challenges the thought process of the audience and over years he created content that gloriously exemplify his tactics. It is true that brave film directors create what they believe in and that’s what Godard did. 


		
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Indian Women and Independence

Point 1 : I didn’t have a better title for this post

Point 2: This post was in the draft mode in an open Chrome window for more than 2 months.

Point 3: A phone call with my cousin made me realize that the post is in draft mode

Few weeks ago I was analyzing the web content, its relevant data and the investments in the TV and digital channels for advertisements. Eventually I ended up watching the old advertisements from India in 90s to reminisce the good old times. Even Lithuanian writer Giedra Radvilavičiūtė agrees with me that Happiness is reminiscing. One thing that was very stark in those ads and even the ads that surface today was men were shown purchasing cars and taking loans for the houses while the women were shown happy in the kitchen and taking care of what goes into family members’ bellies or how white the shirts are. The competition among women wasn’t about who will write better python code but who will produce whiter shirts. Shifting the focus to movies and most of them fail the Mako Mori test ( film should have at least one female character who isn’t supporting a man’s story and she should have her own narrative). Almost all of them were rarely ambitious beyond getting married to someone they loved, no career, nothing. Jewelry is sold under the pseudo emotional statement that it makes a woman happy and having gold is associated with domestic stability. Being in a couple is the only approved way to live.

What else can you expect from the patriarchal, myopic society of India where women have been marginalized for centuries and have played only certain roles in the society barring a few outliers. Few days ago I was at Vasa Museum in Stockholm, a museum of Viking ship from 1626. The ship sank and so did women and men aboard. The women were identified as Beata and Yvla(made up names given by Archaeologists). I learned while sati was the only ‘chaste’ choice for a widow in India, Svenska women enjoyed far higher rights and sort of absolute freedom post the death of their husbands (Beata was probably a widow)

Clearly, we have a long way to go.