Section 5: Film Reviews

5.1 

Three Brothers is a British short film directed by Aleem Khan released in 2014 funded by the British Film Institute. The story is about three brothers who have an absentee father, with the focus on Hamid, the eldest and protector of the brothers. While he has a tough and criminal persona (including being expelled from school), he incubates three chicken eggs, showing that Hamid is a character who can be two-faced. While the filming style is not the most remarkable, Hamid is a fascinating and developed character. His two sides are entirely contrasting, one who cares for his brothers and chickens and one who is prepared to be rough.

Technically, the film is straightforward. The editing style is mainly cuts rather than actual unique edits. However, before the film’s title is revealed, there is an exciting scene where it is shot through a home video camera showing a happier time before transitioning to a dark and bleak world. The short film is filmed and set in Medway Towns, Kent, which is made to look gloomy and from my perspective, this short film has a faint tint. The main camera techniques used are the rule of thirds and close-ups, which shows that Khan has given thought to where the camera should be placed. Something that blockbuster and mainstream Hollywood directors forget these days. The decision not to use music and rely entirely on diegetic sounds is a good one, it adds to the disheartening atmosphere.

The best part of the film is the story, something simple yet something that could make someone cry because of the ending. As the film progresses, the viewer learns that the reason for the brothers’ father absence is due to a secret wedding which means that the brothers will perhaps have to grow up alone without their father and there is no hope that they won’t see their mother again. The film has metaphors such as a fox killing one of the chickens and Hamid protecting his brothers, representing an unknown loss that the brothers are going through. Hamid losing two of his three eggs but yet one survives, appearing in the end credits, giving hope for the viewers that the brothers will prevail through their troubles.

Three Brothers is a good starting point and should be aimed at young adults since it deals with the theme of familial relations in a troubled family. I hope that Aleem Khan does not stop making films and it will be interesting to see where he will take his career and this is a project to look back on with pride for him.

5.2 

Please post a review of a feature film production of your choice (British or World cinema). Make sure to comment on the narrative structure, as well as sound, camera, lighting and editing choices.

BreathlessPoster

Breathless or A bout de Souffle is one of the defining films of the French New Wave, French cinema and masterpiece cinema. Breathless is frequently called a masterpiece by critics. It has a simple but emotional story about Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo), a gangster who seems to be misunderstood by the outside world, turning his life into a mess by killing a police officer. He seeks refuge in Paris with his American girlfriend Patrica (Jean Seberg). The reason why this film is a masterpiece is that this is a film that broke the unwritten rules of film.

When I take a step back and think about the story of Breathless, especially as an aspiring writer, I realise it has a simple narrative and story. It can be a romance, a man in love with a woman. Or it can be a crime film, a young man escaping the law and trying to get out of the country. However, this is a film which comments on the freedom of youth and that is a focal point of Breathless. Michel seems to be a troubled young man rather than a murderer, he does things that try to make him free. Michel uses aliases such as László Kovács, he looks up to one of the coolest men of Hollywood Humphrey Bogart, the sight of Michel guiding his thumb around his mouth is a visual motif showing his admiration for Bogart and his love of jazz. He dislikes classical music, a genre of the old intellectuals (Patrica has a fondness for Bach and Mozart) but loves jazz music, arguably the classical music of the 20th century and a genre associated with those in the 1950s, who enjoyed rebellion and going against the establishment. His girlfriend Patrica seems to be his opposite, an American, innocent, knows what their ambitions are and stays away from crime. As well as having an iconic look, Patrica is blissfully unaware of her boyfriend’s exploits in the crime world and tries to be good. Michel and Patrica are the most interesting characters in the film and are part of what makes it a classic.

In terms of three aspects of film: camera, lighting and sound. Breathless is not unique in the grand scheme of cinema but have certain techniques which stand out. The use of a camera is simple, the main two reasons for this are shot types and type of camera used at the time. There are two shot types prevalent in Breathless, a medium shot and a close-up, which are two types that are often used in the French New Wave, it keeps things simple and gives an unparalleled look. While there are shots on tripods, a revolutionary aspect of Breathless is the use of a handheld camera. Often following the characters around Paris. There is a distinct absence of artificial lighting and usage of natural lighting, there only one scene shot at night and that uses the lights from surrounding businesses. The sound is distinctive for its jazz soundtrack, representing the rebelliousness of youth and another notable aspect is the dialogue and specifically the conversations between Michel and Patrica, they often are all over the place covering a variety of topics from the meaning of life to who they are sleeping with.

A main selling point of the film is its editing, the rapid cuts define this film, often there are overt jump cuts which critics have called visual jazz and even anarchy acting against the establishment. I understand that this is a rebellion against continuity editing, but rather than disregarding a story, for me the jump cut represents how Michel is losing control over his life and how life can go past you by when you lack control.

Breathless is a masterpiece that defines a generation and a culture. It’s impressive to think that this film was Jean-Luc Goddard’s debut film and that it would be so remarkable for its time and Breathless is a film that has aged well and I found it enjoyable as a viewer from the 21st century. This is a perfect introduction to the French New Wave and one of the greatest films of all time.

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2 thoughts on “Section 5: Film Reviews”

  1. Great short film review, Max! You’ve successfully completed 5.1

    Please remember to upload your feature film review by the end of the day.

    Like

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