argument top image

Is Jean Luc Godard the greatest filmmaker of all time?
Back to question

He unmasked the social reality by deviating from standard film-making techniques

Jean Luc Godard used age-old film making techniques in a new light to set himself apart from the "Hollywood" standard of acceptable films. He brought forth the truth that lies at the heart of society.

The Argument

Jean-Luc Godard believed that the way a film was created had tremendous influence over how it was received by the audience. He broke certain prevalent norms of the day to mix high culture with low culture, without ever favoring one over the other. Furthermore, on several occasions he had his characters break the fourth wall to, in essence, drive home a particularly significant fact or truth about life. He circumvented the usual method of preaching to his audience by utilizing other avenues at his disposal such as editing, lighting, and sound [1]. Through jump-cuts – one of the hallmark techniques of the movement – he brought out the recklessness, impulsiveness and immediacy experienced by the characters through minimalist actions and dialogues. Deviating from the "normal" way of shooting conversation sequences that included both the individuals partaking in the conversation, Godard focused solely on the subject of the conversation, irrespective of who was speaking. This allowed the viewer to delve into the depth of the character by observing his expressions, actions and body language. Lighting was Godard’s specialty, as seen through his two films; "A woman is a woman" – a technicolor comedy, and "Vivre sa vie" – a tragedy that uses lightning, or the absence of it, to showcase the utter heartbreak and conflicted grief felt by the protagonist, a failed actress turned prostitute. He, at times, bathed her in light that stripped her bare of any disguise or veil, leaving every shred of inferiority on display for the audience to grieve over. Thus Godard, through the technicalities of filmmaking opened the door to the realities of society, otherwise kept hidden under a veil of propriety and restrictions.

Counter arguments

Though it was the use of the unconventional techniques that pushed Godard into the limelight, a particular faction of people believed that his prestige would have significantly increased had he put forward his Marxist beliefs using the "normal" filmmaking conventions. By doing so, he would have effectively "beat them at their own game". They believed that the new techniques, instead of capturing the focus of the audience, distracted them from the ongoing action. For example, the jump cuts could at times appear disjointed, giving the entire film a fragmented view, and making it difficult to keep track of the plot.



[P1] Godard used jump-cuts to reflect the personality of the characters. [P2] His new techniques revolutionized the concept of a film.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] The jump cuts make the film appear fragmented. [Rejecting P2] His films would have been more effective if he had used standard techniques.


This page was last edited on Monday, 22 Jun 2020 at 16:02 UTC

Explore related arguments