– Public Screening of Film TBD
– Students’ roles in discussion leading, TBD.
Influences of French cinema in Heartbeats – specifically in the films Savage Nights and Masculin, Feminin
Though the director of Hearbeats Xavier Dolan is adamant in his claims that his work is not influenced by other directors, there are obvious parallels to his film to other notable works of French cinema. He is frequently compared to French New Wave director Godard, whose film Masculin, Feminin follows a similar plot story in that characters in the film are all young people, primarily concerned with the superficial circumstances of their own love lives. Though the characters all seem to have some intelligence, seem even bordering on very well-educated, whenever a topic of substanial weight is brought up, it is quickly dismissed by another character who just can’t seem to handle the seriousness of the world. In Heartbeats, Marie’s poetry is dismissed as an “accident,” in Masculin Feminin a young woman being interviewed fails to answer a question about political contention among nations during the time of Vietnam, claiming ignorance on all topics other than personal life.
Interestingly, both Godard’s film and Dolan’s film have both a story-line and documentary feel to them that explain what it is like to be young and in love. It is both fantasy and analytical, beautifully written and rather rigidly to-the-point. While Godard’s film does ask interviewees questions concerning political movements occurring at the time, such as famine in India and communism across the globe, inane questions are asked to those in the hot seat as well (Do you like cheese in tubes?). In Heartbeats, interviewees say nothing on love or life that is eloquent or particularly profound, but their cool-rimmed glasses and hipster looks will instantly appeal to the demographic in which the film is meant to appeal. Both films are rich with details about pop culture, music, cool fashion and interpersonal interaction with young people.
Savage Nights, another French film, follows a similar plot line, fixiated on young love and its fatal downfalls, figuratively and literally. The main character of Jean, a young bisexual, participates in reckless behavior – he has unprotected sex even when he is infected with HIV, takes on numerous sexual partners and essentially terrorizes a seventeen year old girl. While the viewer can certainly reprimand Jean for his irresponsible ways, it is understood that the young man is simply seeking to live a life with an identity based on other characteristics other than the sole fact that he has HIV and will likely die. Though love isn’t a matter of life or actual, physical death in Heartbeats, it may as well be. Two friends struggle to understand the desires of their affection – a rather sexually-ambiguous Nicolas. Conflict begins to arise, which almost leads to the demise of their friendship, absolute loss of dignity and total, rock-bottom heartbreak so often experienced by young people that are so painfully infatuated with another. Meanwhile, Nico seems to be doing whatever he pleases, whenever he pleases with little caution to the wind. He defies the constricting boxes of sexual identity and instead acts on a whim, throwing drug-riddle ragers in an apartment paid for by his father where he hits on both Marie and Francis, as well as other party guests.
All three films portray the unique “situation of French youth.” In other words, it shows young people true to form and how they actually exist in real life – as beautiful but imperfect, intelligent but incredibly naieve socially, a friend and a foe at the same moment in time, fearless of norms and regulations but petrified of death and destruction. Young people are, quite inevitably, paradoxes.
It is worth noting before I wrap this post up that French cinema has only seemed to embrace the “queer” throughout the years. There is a battle between men and women in Masculin, Feminin. Godard’s film posits a binary distinction of Venus and Mars whereas both Savage Nights and Heartbeats embrace the “jupiter.” Essentially, newer films have come to account for the complex, ambiguous and outside identities and relationships that exist in the social world, especially in the social world of such young, impressionable beings.
-Go off of the intro to Heartbeats
-Explain there is a connection between “Heartbeats” and “Jules et Jim”
-Heartbeats is modern day film of Jules et Jim
Introduction to Jules et Jim
-late 1950’s/1960’s: New French Wave Cinema
-French filmmakers influenced by Italian neorealism and classical Hollywood cinema
-Romantic Rivalry: Best friends: Jules and Jim
Best friends: Francis and Marie
-different relationship between the two best friends and the role in the love triangles
-Catherine in Jules et Jim
-Nicholas in Heartbeats
-Catherine keeps changing her mind-related to Nicholas’ role in the love triangle
-Catherine and Nicholas-free spirits, change minds
-Filming, camera styles (?)
During the scene with the strobe light the way that the two characters are looking at their crush is exactly what Mulvey is talking about with the male gaze. Although they are looking at a man, they are focusing on his beautiful curly hair and the physical things about him. These two characters are playing the male role in Mulvey’s theory of the male gaze as their crush plays the female role as the one being looked at.
Intro- explain that we are talking about the music
Sean: Introduce the song- Bang Bang: Nancy Sinatra.. explain when it is played in the movie and why it is played in such an important time in the film??
“I was five and he was six
We rode on horses made of sticks
He wore black and I wore white
He would always win the fight
Bang bang, he shot me down
Bang bang, I hit the ground
Bang bang, that awful sound
Bang bang, my baby shot me down.
Seasons came and changed the time
When I grew up, I called him mine
He would always laugh and say
“Remember when we used to play?”
Bang bang, I shot you down
Bang bang, you hit the ground
Bang bang, that awful sound
Bang bang, I used to shoot you down.
Music played, and people sang
Just for me, the church bells rang.
Now he’s gone, I don’t know why
And till this day, sometimes I cry
He didn’t even say goodbye
He didn’t take the time to lie.
Bang bang, he shot me down
Bang bang, I hit the ground
Bang bang, that awful sound
Bang bang, my baby shot me down…”
Courtney: The song lyrics in this song really articulate the main theme in this move. “Bang Bang, He shot me down; Bang Bang, I hit the ground” When Francis expresses his love for Nicolas, and Nicolas says that he is not gay, it really represents what the lyrics express.. Even thought the song is not playing in this particular scene, it still correlates and represents this theme throughout the movie.
Sean: any further comments about the song…
Courtney: In this film most of the songs are extra-dialectic or the soundtrack songs that are not playing in the actual scene. However, in the movie there are a few dialectic songs or songs that are actually playing in the scene and the characters are aware of them. One is in the scene where Francis and Marie come to Nicolas’ Birthday party. The dialectic music is of American pop music, which symbolizes the view of Americas and the party scene. The use of this music in the scene shows the best representation of a raging party must include the blasting of American music.
Sean: would you like to elaborate??
Sean: Non-music aspect of the film
Sean: Music during intimate scenes
Laura Mulvey is a feminist film theorist who is best known for her essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”. This essay shifted the orientation of film theory towards a psychoanalytic framework. Mulvey believes that this alternative form of cinema provides a space for cinema to be born in that it challenges the basic assumptions of mainstream filming. She says that in order for this alternative cinema to be born it must start by reacting against the assumptions and obsessions of society, and with this the spectators get an illusion of looking in on a private world. Mulvey discusses the idea of the active instinct, and it exists as the erotic basis for pleasure in looking at another person as an object of desire. This leads into her idea of the male gaze which projects fantasy on the female figure of desire. She discusses that there are two codes for the male gaze, “voyeuristic” or seeing women as whores and “fetishistic” seeing women as madonnas.
Applying Mulvey to Heartbeats:
• Strobe light scene:
Although Marie and Francis are looking so deeply at a male, they are playing the male role as active by focusing on Nicolas’s physical attraction. They are looking at Nicolas in a “fetishistic” way by concentrating on his beauty. Nicolas is playing the passive female role as he is both of their object of desire.
• Sex Scene with Marie:
Here Xavier Dolan (the director) focuses a lot on Marie’s physical features underneath her clothes. The way that this scene is filmed the spectators seem to be in a masculine position while Mare, the woman on the screen, is the object of desire. The spectators can be viewed as masculine because it is a heterosexual relationship that we see.
Throughout the entire film Dolan focuses on the physical features of Marie, by introducing her to the camera almost every time by starting on he butt or uncovered legs and then working up to her face. Mulvey’s idea of the gaze can be seen in many different perspectives throughout the film.
I wanted to look at how the different characters in Heartbeats objectify each other and even themselves in different scenes in the film. Marie and Francis are constantly viewing Nicolas in separate pieces rather than the whole picture. And also every time we see one of the characters through one of the other character’s “gaze” or perspective, we see only one part of their body and are forced to focus on that for the rest of the scene. Mulvey discusses in her articles how we look at other people as pieces and objects rather than as a whole person because we objectify others to fit the mold that we are looking for.
There is even a “gaze” between the two best friends Marie and Francis, as if they can see each other differently than any one else can; as if they speak their own secret language through their gaze. Whenever they spend time together just the two of them, it is very intimate like over tea, or shopping together where they are trying to find clothing to make them more physically appealing. They both allow themselves to be objectified while still objectifying others and each other in the process.
And even after they both get their heart broken by the same man and receive the unaccepting gaze that he puts on them, they still move on and can find new people to gaze upon.
Heartbeats is a beautiful, visually tantalizing film throughout. It is clear that fashion itself places a vital role in making this film what it is; physically and metaphysically. I think the way that the characters use clothing as a means of luring their beloved- to accentuate their sexuality as well as a commodity, to win his love. The director accentuated the clothing by presenting them with specific camera shots- slow motions featuring the characters walking to meet their love. Ironically, the object of affection does not care for high fashion or even a put together look for their matter- his sex appeal lies within his blase, childish attitude which may reflect the director’s idea that ultimatley how we dress ourselves for the world to see does not really matter in the end. Their gifts, the $500 cashmere and boat hat play no importance in Nic’s feelings toward Francis and Mary. I think that the fashion in the film coincides with the concept of aesthetic beauty and the role it plays in who we are and within our desired relationships. The relationship that these two friends are vying for is surface- ultimately they do not even really know Nicolas- they do not even know his sexual orientation- but they have this intense love for him. I can conclude that the beautiful fashions relay to this deeper meaning the director is trying to present. How the way we dress ourselves can only go so far and it cannot be the key component in compatibility.
It is apparent from the first few minutes of the film that fashion plays a prominent role. In the scene where Marie and Francis meet Nicolas at the cafe, Nicolas is wearing red heart shaped glasses. He then removes the glasses and seductively bites the end of the frame. This scene is one of many that make his sexual orientation more ambiguous. Throughout the film he is portrayed as androgynous through his fashion. Fashion reflects Marie and Francis’ sexual orientation as well. Every article of clothing and accessory that Marie wears helps project a very feminine image. Francis’ clothing and physical appearance demonstrate that he is very conscientious of his physical appearance.
Besides contributing to Nicolas’ androgyny, the fashion in this film is used to show desire or direct viewers’ attention to a specific character. For instance, in the scene in which Marie and Francis go to Nicolas’ party, they stare in jealousy as Nicolas dances with a girl. All of the individuals in this scene, including Nicolas, are dressed in white or light colors except for the girl he is dancing with. This girl is wearing a bright red sequined dress with a vibrant blue wig. The wig and fashion focus the viewers attention on the girl. The fashion compels viewers to judge the girl along with Marie and Francis. The fashion also significantly contributes to the artistic element of the film.
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