Sunday, December 14, 2008

Response XVII- Bonnie and Clyde

I simply loved a great deal of films that were screened this semester. "Les Cousins," "400 Blows," and "My Night at Maud's" are just a few. "Bonnie and Clyde" however has to be my favourite film that we watched this semester. I believe that I like this film so much because it had a lot of the same qualities films that I am accustomed to watching have. This film was easy to follow and understand, simple, direct, and it had a wonderfully entertaining plot. When I compare "Bonnie and Clyde" to other films I have watched this semester, I really wonder why I liked this film so much better than 85% of the other films screened if "Bonnie and Clyde" is a film that was directly influenced by the French New Wave.

I was surprised to find out that Francios Truffaut was originally approached to direct this film. However, he declined the offer and Arthur Penn directed it. When I watched this film I did notice a few stylistic similarities between "Bonnie and Clyde" and other New Wave films. I think the similarities between the films lies in the relaxed editing and the storyline. A few times in this film, I noticed jump-cuts. When I saw the jump cuts, I was reminded of Godard, the director who is known for including jump cuts in his editing techniques. Also, when I was watching "Bonnie Clyde," I was reminded of Ferdinand and Marianne from Godard's "Pierrot le Fou." I consider Ferdinand and Marianne the French "Bonnie and Clyde." Both of the couples are criminals and both die at the end. Being influenced by the French New Wave is without a doubt one of the main things this film is known for. However I think it is even more famous for the sex and the violence that appeared in the film.

Since the 30's the Hay's Code strictly monitored what Hollywood was putting in their films. The Hay's Code outlines many guidelines for filmmakers, but the fact that it strictly regulated sex and violence is probably what it is best remembered for. By the 1960's the Hay's Code was fully revoked. "Bonnie and Clyde" is one of the first films to break all the rules of the Hay's Code. This film was full of sex and violence right from the beginning when audiences see a naked Bonnie in her bedroom. There are also a few scenes where the audience sees Bonnie and Clyde making love. Furthermore there are countless gunfight scenes with the police and the film has an explicitly violent ending. In the final scene, Bonnie and Clyde are brutally shot by police forces. For someone who watches the film today, I would imagine they would not consider the last scene very violent, but for someone living in 1967, it was shocking.

Aside from the fact that this film broke all the rules of Hay's Code and was influenced by the French New Wave, it is considered a "great" film simply because it was well done. Although the film is full of sex and violence, it is very funny as well. The scene when the Barrow gang steals the car of a wealthy undertaker hilarious. The steal the man's car, but the gang also welcomes the man and his girlfriend. Together they laugh and eat together for a while. This scene is funny but I found that it foreshadowed the death of Bonnie, Clyde and Buck. As soon as Bonnie discovers the man is an undertaker she becomes angry and kicks them out of the car. The ending of the film is also very interesting to me. Although Bonnie and Clyde obviously die in the end, I feel as if they will live forever due to the poem Bonnie had published in the newspaper a few scenes prior to their death. I felt as if that poem had an immortalizing effect.

This film intrigued me greatly. It was funny, well-done, and easy to follow. Throughout the course of the semester, my definition of film has been challenged so many times, especially with the viewing of Godard films such as "Weekend" and "2 or 3 Things I Know About Her." It was a relief to see a film like "Bonnie and Clyde." This film gave me reassurance that my definition of film which is essentially "a visual form of expression that has artistic value and tells a story," is somewhat accurate.

No comments: