Saturday, March 13, 2010

Breathless


So we finally got around to watching the amazing Criterion Collection DVD of Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless, a personal favorite and inspiration for our music video we shot this past fall for the band Eva. Watching the special features on the transcendent Jean Seberg, I was struck by her tragic life and the overall rebellious revolutionary spirit of that era. Which leads me to this past Sunday's Oscars. Don't get me wrong, I couldn't be happier that films like Precious and The Hurt Locker were nominated and when they won their various prizes, was heartily affirmed in the power of the "little" film and it's journey from film festival to Oscar ceremony. I was happy to see last year's Slumdog Millionaire and The Wrestler get honored after struggling to find distribution after premieres at major film festivals. It gives a filmmaker hope that the great and new will find a way out.
But I can't help but think back to that image of Jean Seberg hawking New York Herald Tribunes on the Champs-Elysees and the era of filmmaking that unleashed after Breathless - the likes of 8 1/2, Bonnie and Clyde, Blow Up, Dr. Strangelove, Easy Rider, Rosemary's Baby, Midnight Cowboy, and the the great decade of 70's cinema to follow.

I have this dim memory of an era of great craft, great politics, and great shock value that infiltrated the Oscars, when Brando refused his Oscar for The Godfather and George C. Scott 2 years earlier for Patton. A time when every actor, writer, director wasn't so eager to spew out the name of the designer of their tux or evening gown, but when it seemed like the whole roof might fall in on the evenings proceedings. I guess it was a different time, and all we can hope for now is the occasional mumbling of Sean Penn or Michael Moore's rants when he manages to get nominated. More than Oscar interrupting politico speeches, I guess I miss the kinds of films that made you want to go out and pick up a movie camera.

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