Is the cinema catalogued as a whole or a part? If you make a western, no psychology; if you make a love story, no chases or fights; if you make alight comedy, no adventures; and if you have adventures, no character analysis.- Jean-Luc Godard
The films of the New Waves and Modernist
are peopled with new types of characters; the characters of directors with a clear vision of themselves as artists of cinema. Their purpose is different - they are not intended to be naturalistic, to create asense of identification in order to engage one more fully with the story being told, butrather to create a sense of distance which prompts reflection in the viewer. In the courseof this essay, the characters of Michel and Patricia in Godard’s
and Vittoria inAntonioni’s
will be examined with regard to their traits, roles in the narratives, point of view, performance, and spectatorial identification. In delineating the manner inwhich these films to an extent reject classical and Hollywood narrative and stylisticconvention, it is hoped to illustrate that these original characters are crucial to theexpression of new philosophies of cinema and modernity.Jean-Luc Godard, in his ‘most representative’
, attempts to realise his ambition to ‘take a conventional story and remake, butdifferently, everything the cinema had been.’
This is attempted, in large part, through theconstruction of the protagonists, Patricia Franchini and Michel Poiccard. They are not therounded, realistic characters of classical Hollywood film, who are intended to seem toexist in the real world, but rather cinematic constructs who live and die with the length of celluloid. It is interesting to note that Godard does not precisely
Hollywood - theseare the characters of a first-generation cinephile director, intended to describe his vision,
Jean Narboni and Tom Milne (eds.)
Godard on Godard: Critical Writings
, NewYork, Da Capo, 1986.
Luc Moullet. ‘Jean-Luc Godard,’ in Hillier, Jim (ed.),
Cahiers du Cinéma
– Volume 2, 1960-1968: New Wave, New
Cinema, Re-evaluating Hollywood
, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986, pps.39-46.
Godard, quoted in
Cahiers du Cinéma - Vol. 2
, ‘Introduction: Re-thinking and Re-making French Cinema,’ p. 30.