French New Wave. It is such an awesome stuff indeed. This movement inspired lots of filmmakers all around the globe! Directors like Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, Jim Jirmush, Bernardo Bertolucci, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Quentin Tarantino & Wong Kar-Wai among others were blown away by French New Wave films and referenced them in lots of their works.
It all started with a bunch of rookie filmmakers getting along and agreeing on one thing: that they hate studios badly – studios were assholes, producing only sequels and remakes, killing talent or shamelessly fucking with it. So, basically, nothing changed these days.
One among them, Jean-Luc Godard, made a movie “Breathless” which broke all the possible rules of filmmaking – contained jump cuts, talking directly to the camera, long monologues/dialogues and filming without a script; all of this was shot the way many Guerilla filmmakers shoot today.
At the same time, Anna Karina – young beautiful 17-year-old girl arrived to France, escaping from her native Denmark in search for a job. There she was noticed by a photographer who thought that “her eyes are wonderful” and signed a contract with young Anna. She posed for some magazines, starred in some commercials – her movements were not a revelation at all (she copied the way other models act) but her eyes were something that was truly special and was the reason she was so loved in modelling business.
Jean-Luc Godard noticed her in soap commercial and got all, ghm, fascinated by Anna Karina. He invited her in his office and asked to play a small role for which Anna would have to appear nude.
‘I have a rule’, she said, ‘no nudity!’
‘But I’ve seen you in that soap commercial where you were in the bath, nude!’ – Godard couldn’t believe in it.
‘I was wearing a suit which went to the top of my neck!’, the woman replied, ‘Your mind was imagining I was nude!’
That fiasco didn’t break Godard’s hearth, but contrary – he didn’t forget young Anna and, straight after he made “Breathless” (and it was a huge hit by the way), he invited Karina to play a leading role in ‘Le Petit Soldat’ which wasn’t involving any nudity but plenty of sensuality. She was still under the age of 18 when she played a role in ‘Le Petit Soldat’ so her mother had to fly from Denmark to sign a contract.
Eventually, Karina and Godard fell in love with each other and got married a year after.
Together, they made other well-known films ‘Une Femme Est Une Femme’ and ‘Vivre Sa Vie’ before moving on to making ‘Bande à part’.
Style shares a lot with all the traditional French New Wave stuff – filmmakers took a specific style which is considered a Hollywood’s trademark (New Wavers were sharing the fascination for Hollywood films) and added their own “charm” to the genre, creating something completely new.
Godard choose B-type Gangster film as an object of fascination here.
Cinematographer Raoul Coutard said that they choose kinda documentary-looking type of camerawork for this film to make an impression that filmmakers are making a reportage. But don’t confuse this to today’s ‘found footage’ flicks! It’s a totally different stuff! While ‘found footage’ attempts to copy the way amateurs shoot documentaries, Coutard wanted to fake the way professionals would do it.
Characters is something totally brilliant in this movie. We’re following three loners who plan a robbery. Franz, Odile and Arthur all live in their own worlds, have a hard time communicating and have no idea how to rob places (ha! Even my dog knows how…).
Love triangle in ‘Bande à part’ is the best love triangle I’ve ever seen in cinema. Franz loves Odile, but he’s not that persuasive and self-confident as Arthur, so Arthur steals Odile from right under Franz’s nose. We don’t know if Arthur loves Odile (I don’t think so) though, so we’re on the Franz’s side (at least I was).
Odile, played by Anna Karina, is my favourite female character of all times together with Mia from ”Pulp Fiction’. She’s a child who can’t grow up, has no idea how to kiss people properly (!) and no idea about what to do with her life. Falling in love very easily, she swings between Franz and Arthur, depending on the situation they’re in. Just after asking Arthur ‘Why Franz is here?! Couldn’t we go without him?’ she may come to Franz and say the exact opposite.
My favorite scene involving Franz, Arthur & Odile is an infamous dance sequence which features voice-over narration by Jean-Luc Godard himself who explains what’s going on in his characters’ hearts.
‘My favorite dance moments were always in Godard’, says Tarantino, ‘as he literally stops the film to show these characters dancing. And the fact that the film is not a musical makes it even more sweet!’
Story is a typical B-sort kinda thing. ‘Bande à part’ is based on a pulp novel but follows in not so closely. Sadly, I didn’t get my hands on the novel, it’s a shame y’know, so I can’t compare the two.
Same as with the previous title I was reviewing, ‘Sex and Fury’, in this movie WHAT is done is not the most important thing; what is important it’s HOW it’s done. Godard uses a B-movie structure to bring this film a light weight feel, to have some additional material to reference (Godard loves referencing other people’s work) and to make fun of B-movies and films in general.
Dialogues, monologues and the way it is done make this film something you haven’t seen before. When characters speak – and they speak a lot, – they move and perform actions that illustrate their emotions towards each other and the world as a whole, making the speeches not only awesome to HEAR but awesome to WATCH as well.
And, of course, stuff like ‘Sometimes, if you don’t hide stuff, nobody notices. I read that in an American book. ‘ or ‘Franz thinks of everything and nothing. He wonders if the world is becoming a dream or if the dream is becoming the world. ‘ is not something I’ll forget in a long time…
Resume: before I get sentimental and all that, have to say that this light, awesomely-written and beautifully acted, and wonderfully-filmed, and masterfully-directed movie deserves all the cookies. Even my chocolate ones. And your cookies. Gimme them! I’ll pass em to Godard so he’d get back to his roots.