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J’ai l’impression d’avoir le coeur sec: the emotive value of breaks, shifts and ellipses in the films of Maurice Pialat

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  1. Introduction
    1. Maurice Pialat's first feature length film
    2. Contemporary French filmmaker Noémie Lvovsky's influences in cinema
    3. The conventional appearance of Pialat's films
    4. The aesthetic and formal features of his narrative style
  2. The movie Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble
    1. The circumstances of making a film under a tight budget
    2. The premise of the film
    3. The highly autobiographical nature of the movie
  3. The movie L'Enfance nue
    1. Telling the story more as an observer than a moralizer
    2. The lack of major changes in Francois
    3. His actions and the change in the rhythm of some sequences
    4. The film: More a collection of his behavior than a narrative
    5. Pialat's capturing the reality before him
    6. Ruptures in tone and changes in rhythm
  4. The movie: A Nos Amours
    1. The ellipses that are present in the movie
    2. The book, th movie was adapted from
    3. Defying the principles of the coming of age story
    4. Suzanne's return home after an evening at the cinema wit Bernard Trevisse
    5. Scenes carrying the emotional weight of previous scenes
    6. This final key sequence
  5. Conclusion
  6. Bibliography

This dissertation sets out to analyze the function of breaks, shifts and ellipses in the films of Maurice Pialat (1925-2003). These shifts and contrasts, which can often be sudden or violent, create problems in relation to the narrative, as they are present between and within the sequences themselves. However, these clashes also appear to contribute to the emotive value of the films and this will be the emphasis of my analysis.

Maurice Pialat made his first feature length film, L'Enfance nue (1968), at forty-three years old, and proceeded to make only ten films in thirty years, a significant number of which he wished he had not made. He was also known for the difficulties surrounding the production of his films and compared to the amount of films produced by his contemporaries, he was an outsider. His relationship to the Nouvelle Vague movement is what René Prédal (2005:7) called a ?rendez-vous manqué'. This could be a metaphor for his work. Through filming the banal and the repetitions, shifts, breaks in seemingly insignificant events in everyday life, Pialat missed a certain element that made the narratives of the films of the Nouvelle Vague so elaborate.

[...] French Cinema in the 1980s: Nostalgia and the Crisis of Masculinity. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Prédal, R. (2005). A nos amours: Etude critique de René Prédal. Paris: Armand Colin. Sontag, S. (1966). Spiritual Style in the Films of Robert Bresson. Against Interpretation Stéphane, R. (Director). (1969). Choses vues autour de L'Enfance nue [Motion Picture]. France: archives INA. Toubiana, S. (2003). Pialat L'Intégrale (Vol. 1). Paris: Gaumont Video. Toubiana, S. (2005). Pialat L'Intégrale (Vol. 2). Paris: Gaumont Video. Truffaut, F. (Writer), & Truffaut, F. [...]


[...] Sabine Haudepin, who played Elizabeth in Passe ton Bac d'Abord (1979) spoke about her experience, saying: J'ai touché du doigt quelque chose que j'aime plus que tout au théatre aussi d'ailleurs, qui sont les arythmies, vous voyez, les cassures, les chutes, quelque chose de l'ordre du déséquilibre, c'est à dire que tout n'est pas comme ça, brusquement le sol peut s'ouvrir sous vos pieds.[5] In fact, although Pialat's scenes often have a beginning, middle and an end, however abrupt it might me, he suddenly cuts from one sequence to another and compared his ?method' to automatic writing (1984: in the sense that he never formally stops or pauses but uses shifts instead, creating a block of material that is sequential despite being broken throughout. [...]


[...] The aesthetic and formal features of his narrative style vary from film to film and in this dissertation, I will explore the use of sudden breaks, shifts, clashes and contrasts to emphasize the emotive value of a scene or dramatic sequence. I will base my analysis on an in-depth study of three of Pialat's film. Firstly, as an introduction to his work, I will observe Pialat's use of repetition and time ellipses in Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble (1972), which remains one of his simplest films in terms of editing and the use of a small number of plans-sequences. [...]

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