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"Band of Outsiders" 1964, Jean Luc Godard


Jean Luc Godard’s 1964 film, “Band of Outsiders” is a French New Wave gangster film that was his seventh feature film in five years as well as arguably his final joyous New Wave film. The origins of the French New Wave movement and Godard’s influence began after World War II where many foreign film makers such as Imar Bergman brought visions that were either light, dark, wry, and serious. As for example, Bergman films mixed in his personal issues with his own life which offered viewers hope on realities of the world. Godard’s vision in his films was to create stories about typical human beings deciding to break societal norms and cause drama. This movie along with his earlier film, “Breathless” had obscure storylines, which left viewers in the dark what was going on, but the visuals and actions were clearly portrayed so it was up to the viewers to create their own interpretations of the story. In “Band of Outsiders”, the audience is entertained by a couple of actors who act out due to pure boredom.


This film was all about innovations in all different directions. The opening credits and opening scenes were nice and long shots of the streets of Paris to provide viewers a sense of the environment where the story will take place. In one of those shots, two men enter a convertible, and it seemed that a camera was attached to the car, but it was stated that the cinematographers used handheld cameras for the most part. The cinematographer, Raoul Coutard successfully achieved the mood of a cold and empty town by his black-and-white camerawork. As the film got into full swing, viewers realized that the narrative was arguably one of the strongest in any Godard film, where the storyline revolved around two unemployed men that previously entered the convertible in the opening scene. It was stated by Godard that he used an omniscient voiceover narrator to create an intimacy between director and audience. It was unclear why he wanted to create this, and some viewers may not even notice that there even is a voiceover.


The twist of the story is that the men had a crush on Odile, so it made the viewers think that they would not be able to go through with robbing her aunt. When they entered the home, they tried to blend in rather than identify themselves as thieves, which created tension among the viewers having them wonder how they would execute their plan. The woman named Odile was the target of the film because her aunt stashed a fortune in her house and the men wanted to rob it. The men met Oldie in English class at school. In that scene, Godard gave a hint that this is modern cinema when the teacher wrote down the equation “classic = modern”, which was very creative and continued to use this technique in later films to put slogans or intellectual jokes for viewers to pick up on. This is a unique way to get viewers to see his films in an active way rather than passive. Another unique aspect of this film is when Odile says she hates cinema and theater, and only love nature. This is unique because Godard’s urban based films are full of art references that rarely focused on the beauty of nature, so Odile’s character states the opposite of Godard’s intentions in his films.

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