Jean-Luc Godard's early films - right up to the pivotal Weekend (1967) were determined to prove the old adage that all you need to make a movie is "a girl and a gun". Whether in crime thrillers like the era-defining A Bout de Souffle (1960) or philosophical science-fiction masterworks like Alphaville (1965), the Nouvelle Vague auteur alternates between romance, philosophy, and action.
Many of the violent acts that appear in Godard's early films seem 'muted' in some way, however, prompting this exhaustive study of the director's techniques for depicting violence. Gunshots and car crashes happen off-screen, bottles are smashed silently on victims' skulls, and fistfights are played for comic effect.
This academic but accessible book, by film scholar, linguist and actor Andrew Lawston, explores three possible explanations for Godard's singular approach to the depiction of violence. First, that on his notoriously tight budgets, he just couldn't afford the special effects and shooting time needed to film action sequences in the way he might have wished. The second possibility is that he was worried about his films being censored. Third, could there have been a conscious artistic reason for understating the considerable violence in his films?
Working with close reference to films including A Bout de Souffle, Vivre Sa Vie, Alphaville, Pierrot le Fou, Weekend and Le Mépris, Killing me Softly is a challenging academic study of the early work of one of the world's greatest living directors.
It is available in Kindle edition from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.
This was of course my MPhil thesis, submitted in the summer of 2002, and first self-published through Lulu in summer 2004. If you do grab a copy, please do consider leaving a review on Amazon.