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Cinematography in the “Breathless” Film Essay


Successful movie producers and directors use various aspects of cinematography to create the desired meaning. Cinematography is a powerful approach used for effective visual storytelling (Fielding 13). The director of the film “Breathless” relies on cinematographic attributes to create meaning. The selected short sequence from the film takes place between 30:00 and 40:00 minutes. This discussion explores how the director of the movie uses cinematography to create desirable meaning to the audience.

To begin with, the director relies on the use of long shots to narrate the story. Such long shots make it easier for the audience to monitor whatever is happening in the sequence. Although these shots are used scarcely, the viewer understands clearly that the actors are trying to get emotionally involved. The long shots play a significant role in portraying or augmenting the emotions of the characters (A Bout de Souffle 1960 Breathless English Subtitles).

Medium shots are also evident from this film. For example, a medium shot is applied when Michel who is smoking. During the same time, Michel’s eyes appear to be focused on Patricia. A medium shot “makes it possible for the viewers to feel engaged with the actors on a personal level” (Fielding 29). As well, close up shots are evident in this sequence. By so doing, the director finds it easier to portray the emotions and facial expressions of the two actors. For example, the director presents a close up of Patricia while she is responding to Michel. The facial expression is evident to the viewer. It becomes quite clear that she enjoys Michel’s company.

Extreme close up is also evident when Michel appears to rub his lips with his fingers. An emotional sensation is created using this method. The approach is used by the photographer to depicting the emotional cues of the characters (A Bout de Souffle 1960 Breathless English Subtitles).

Lighting is another powerful aspect of cinematography utilized in this film. The use of adequate lighting in the sequence makes it easier for the audience to follow every event on the screen. At the same time, the emotions of the characters are amplified through the art of lighting (Jackson 82). Lighting helps the photographer capture the scenes properly.

Camera movement is another technique used to create meaning in the film. For instance, panning is evident whereby “the camera moves horizontally from a fixed position” (Jackson 22). The producers have used various camera angles to add meaning to the movie. For example, the use of high-angle shots makes it possible to capture the responses and emotions of the characters. The approach helps the viewer examine new issues such as the characters’ proximity to each other.

The viewer observes that the director has used deep focus to present the best vision to the viewers. The concept of mise-en-scene plays a useful role in narrating the targeted story to the viewer. Various objects have been placed strategically to augment the targeted story. Continuity editing is also noticeable in the selected sequence. This is the case because the producer “focuses on one single event without cutting” (Jackson 103). This strategy creates the illusion of undisturbed space and time. The relayed meaning to the audience is that the characters are passionate and happy for each other. The camera appears to focus on the words and actions of the characters. The strategy encourages the viewer to focus on the storyline without deviation.

Another powerful cinematographic technique applied in this film is the focus. The director has used a tighter aperture to ensure every detail is presented to the viewer. The use of a sharp focus makes it easier to depict both the background and background of the scene (Miller 61). By so doing, the viewer can examine the emotions and aspects of the room. The use of deep focus portrays various objects in the room including the portraits on the wall.

The movie producer has used an eye-level angle (Stump 54). The strategy is “used to ensure the viewer is on an equal footing with the targeted character” (Heiderich 12). The cinematographic approach is relevant to making the viewers comfortable with the characters on the screen. As well, low and high angle shots are exploited to deliver the emotions of the characters to the audience.

The use of sound has played a positive role in this film. The soundtrack used in the selected sequence enhances the presentation of the film. The director has used non-diegetic sound to support the story. The audience can hear the sound of flowing water. This cinematographic approach creates the best mood and atmosphere within the selected sequence (Heiderich 15). The sound of flowing sounds emotional and romantic thereby creating meaning to the film. Sound plays a positive role in improving the audiovisual language of the film.

In conclusion, the director of this film has used various cinematographic aspects to add meaning to the story. Notably, the visual effects support every conversation presented in the film (Miller 67). This fact shows clearly that movie producers can employ various aspects of cinematography to deliver the most desirable meaning to the audience.

Works Cited

Fielding, Raymond. Techniques of Special Effects of Cinematography, Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2014. Print.

Heiderich, Timothy. “Cinematography Techniques: The Different Types of Shots in Film.” Videomaker 1.1 (2012): 1-17. Print.

Jackson, Chris. Flash Cinematic Techniques, Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2012. Print.

Miller, Nancy. Breathless: An American Girl in Paris, Berkeley: Seal Press, 2013. Print.

Oregan, Rachel. “A Bout de Souffle 1960 Breathless English Subtitles.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 2015. Web.

Stump, David. Digital Cinematography: Fundamentals, Tools, Techniques, and Workflows, Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2015. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020, August 6). Cinematography in the “Breathless” Film. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/cinematography-in-the-breathless-film/

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"Cinematography in the “Breathless” Film." IvyPanda, 6 Aug. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/cinematography-in-the-breathless-film/.

1. IvyPanda. "Cinematography in the “Breathless” Film." August 6, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cinematography-in-the-breathless-film/.


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IvyPanda. "Cinematography in the “Breathless” Film." August 6, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cinematography-in-the-breathless-film/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Cinematography in the “Breathless” Film." August 6, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cinematography-in-the-breathless-film/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Cinematography in the “Breathless” Film'. 6 August.

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