Jump to content
Shawn Mielke

Raoul Coutard

Recommended Posts

Does anyone have a beat on some particularly juicy if not lengthy text on or by this guy? I would like to know everything about his work and career. Probably lots of vicarious stuff in the Godard books...

 

S.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He has a whole section in the Reflections book.

 

There is a lot of info on the way Godard shoots in the Godard interviews book.

 

Have you seen the trailer to Notre Musique, by the way? It looks stunning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a great interview with him on the Criterion DVD of Godard's "Bande A Part" (Band of Outsiders) including some 'behind the scenes' on that film.

 

I'm still looking for a DVD copy of his film "Hoa Binh"

 

-Sam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have found "Reflections" to be an excellent source. I can't lay it down when I

open it up and start reading!

 

Greg Gross,Professional Photographer

Student Cinematographer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You could also check out the "Screencraft: Cinematography" book, part of a series looking at the different crafts. There's a great chapter about Coutard in there along with a lot other great DP's that covers many eras - from Cardiff through Khondji. Coutard talks about his lighting schemes, the Cameflex, shooting for Godard vs. Truffaut, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you all for the replies. I'll check out the Reflections and Screencraft books, as well as the Bande A Part disc. It's great to see all of these Godard films getting the treatment from Criterion, and nice to know that Coutard seems to be overseeing many of the transfers. I'm working with DV at this point, and yet consider myself a disciple of Tarkovsky, first and foremost, but his techniques don't translate well to 60i images, whereas the Coutard verite style does. And not only that, but Coutard's compositions are sometimes so jarring, so not "picture perfect", they remind me that creating moving pictures isn't the same thing as still photography or painting. You more than one shot at conveying meaning, and so you can build to an associative tableaux, rather than in just one shot. Your depictions can be more abstract, they work together, accumulatively. Godard and Coutard did this rather well (It's My Life).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There's a great interview with him on the Criterion DVD of Godard's "Bande A Part" (Band of Outsiders) including some 'behind the scenes' on that film.

 

I'm still looking for a DVD copy of his film "Hoa Binh"

 

-Sam

 

 

Also on the "Contempt" DVD.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've just seen for the first time Truffaut's Jules et Jim. Loved that bounced light into the ceiling and the sense of movement throughout the film. Really new at that time.

 

Did I read somewhere (Peter Ettedgui's book?) about Coutard using an Ilford high-speed still film to shoot this?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

wouldn't be surprised as they had Ilford spool still film that they loved onto 35mm motion picture cores. He Godard also had a love for double-x.

 

a lot of Contempt was shot with mostly available light or just light punched into ceilings - which is remarkable seeing as how it was shot in cinemascope. godard also always had ceilings nailed onto his sets to prevent any temptation to light from above (a technique recently adopted by michel gondry to drive ellen kuras, asc crazy haha) - like in the apartment from A Woman is A Woman.

 

there was also an article devoted to him in an old american cinematographer i have. if you really wanted it i could probably scan it. but yeah he's definitely one of my heroes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
there was also an article devoted to him in an old american cinematographer i have. if you really wanted it i could probably scan it. but yeah he's definitely one of my heroes.

 

March 1997 issue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've just seen for the first time Truffaut's Jules et Jim. Loved that bounced light into the ceiling and the sense of movement throughout the film. Really new at that time.

 

Did I read somewhere (Peter Ettedgui's book?) about Coutard using an Ilford high-speed still film to shoot this?

 

---Not this one, but 'Les Carbiniers. To give it a newsreel look, or more likely a photo journalism look.

Mostly natural light with the occassional clamp on light above the windows as a booster.

 

---LV

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest fstop
godard also always had ceilings nailed onto his sets to prevent any temptation to light from above (a technique recently adopted by michel gondry to drive ellen kuras, asc crazy haha) - like in the apartment from A Woman is A Woman.

 

This is one of the key factors why I've always never judged Coutard's vision as a DP. Stuff like the ceilings, the minimal light, the verite compositions were all Godard/Truffaut authored ideas that Coutard had the open mind to run with, but with his other directors you obviously don't see those innovations as much. Makes me wonder had DV been an option in the early 60s would Godard have done everything himself in entirely available light?

 

I remember watching a non-Godard directed Coutard movie called EMBASSY from the early 70s which looked more like an ITC/Lew Grade TV thriller show. I seem to remember hard light in that one. I haven't heard kind comments about Coutard's Techniscope lensing of The Southern Star (for director Sidney Hayers) either. Then again, that also shows Coutard's versaility and willingness to adapt. I'd also check out the work of Sacha Vierny and Henri Decae, two of the other top French new wave cameramen, and no less significant in my opinion (though I get the impression Vierny would have been too slow and ponderous for Godard).

 

I really enjoyed the fact that Coutard was the cinematographer of Tony Richardson's The Sailor From Gibraltar for Woodfall in 1967. Interesting at the same time, Nicholas Roeg was shooting Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This is one of the key factors why I've always never judged Coutard's vision as a DP. Stuff like the ceilings, the minimal light, the verite compositions were all Godard/Truffaut authored ideas that Coutard had the open mind to run with, but with his other directors you obviously don't see those innovations as much.

 

I think Coutard had an extremely strong vision and that a good deal of the power of the early Godard films comes from the organization of the frame. While a good deal of the credit is due to Godard's initiative to push filmmaking in a new direction, I personally see more stylistic or technical consistency in Coutard's films than I do in Godard's. For all the talk about a documentary style of shooting, the compositions in their films are extremely precise and well conceived.

 

Godard seems to be interested in being constantly iconoclastic, but I don't feel that he always had as specific a vision of the end result as he did of the process he wanted to employ to get there. I think the coherence of composition, for example, is largley due to Coutard. There's a great quote where he discusses the difference between Truffaut and Godard, saying that Truffaut told him what he wanted in the frame, whereas Godard told him what he didn't want in frame. Not to take that quote too literally, but you can see what he means in terms of each approach. That's one reason that I believe it was easy for Godard to move further and further away from traditional filmmaking and a "traditional" approach to images, in terms of using composition, lighting, etc. Those concerns could easily seem minor when your goal is to deconstruct the entire process of watching films, which I feel was perhaps the most lasting artistic impulse of Godard's films.

 

I find it a lot easier to watch Godard's early films because they're dealing with a radical vision, but one that's still working in a traditional movie context. I think Coutard is extremely important in allowing him to find ways to push the boundaries making films that have a strong, coherent visual language without going off the deep end into extemely abstract experimentation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest fstop

What non-Godard pictures lit by Coutard have you seen? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not as many as I should have, mostly the films he did with Truffaut. "Jules et Jim", "The Bride Wore Black" and maybe one or two more I can't think of right now. I'm taking recommendations though, so let me know if you've got any.

 

I guess my argument stems from the fact that I really notice it when someone else shoots Godard's films, even a great DP like Willy Kurant's stuff with Godard is significantly less interesting to me than the films Coutard shot. They have a visual organization that I feel lacking in Godard's other films lack. I can't really imagine "Vivre Sa Vie" or "Alphaville" being as powerful if they'd been shot by somebody else.

 

I also feel like Coutard's work is the saving grace of "Jules et Jim", as the story has never done much for me. The inventiveness in the cinematography is stunning though, the race on the bridge for example, really mind-blowing stuff. In fact, if I think about it, all of my favorite images from the French New Wave are shot by Coutard. His work from that period is totally fearless and defines a lot of the look of the 1960's for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What non-Godard pictures lit by Coutard have you seen? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

 

"Le Crabe Tambour" Dir by Pierre Schoendorfer, set in Vietnam and Algeria.

 

(Coutard was a combat cameraman during the French War in Vietnam).

 

Interesting film, and from the colonial perspective which makes it kind of different.

 

-Sam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest fstop

Thanks for the heads up Sam, I will definitely have to check that one out.

 

Mike,

 

I tend to find Kurant's work to be more polished on his later French and American pictures. I also think the two Godard movies he shot were for when the director was after a different look entirely. It'd be interesting to see if his earlier stuff had been lit by Kurant and how much more different the intepretation of the material would have been, particularly as far as framing is concerned.

 

I still think Godard and Truffaut deserve much of the credit for liberating the look of cinematography, and alot of their written stuff for CAHIER DU CINEMA prior supports this. recommended reading for sure. Where'd we be without the unsung French?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have found "Reflections" to be an excellent source. I can't lay it down when I

open it up and start reading!

 

Greg Gross,Professional Photographer

Student Cinematographer

 

 

Can you provide more reference information on "reflections"? I can't seem to locate it.

 

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure how accurate or relevant this is but I think Coutard played the role of the pimp in a scene which would eventually be cut out of "Il Conformisto".

Also irrelevant, but interesting, the phone number for the professor in Paris was actually Truffaut's Paris phone number.

I enjoy the films he made a great deal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

His autobiography "L'imperiale de Van Su: Comment je suis entré dans le cinéma en degustant une soupe chinoise" which translates to "How I got into cinema by having a Chinese soup" is only available in French but offers many interesting anecdotes and insights about the many films he worked on.

A good reason to dust off that French-English dictionary!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a ton of juicy material about and by Godard. For a good overview of his life and career up until a few years ago, you should check out "Everything is Cinema" by Richard Brody. Along similar lines is "Godard, A Portrait of the Artist at 70" which came out in 2003 by Colin McCabe. A good book with a collection of essays about work spanning Godard's career you should check out "Forever Godard". As for text by him, his excerpt in "Moviemakers' Master Class" by Laurent Tirard is short but should be required reading for any young filmmaker. If you want to get into something real meaty then "Cinema:The Archaeology of Film and the Memory of a Century" by Jean-Luc Godard and Youssef Ishaghpour is amazing. It is a very dense and complicated conversation between Godard and a celebrated cinephile. While this 140 page conversation spans many facets of his career, it really focuses on his collage tome "Histoire(s) du Cinema".

Edited by Conrad Madden

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will try to find that book "reflections". Ive read a Sacha Vierny interview where he basically puts down the whole guerrilla shooting that Coutard did. It's sort of an interesting topic, the artistic vision from two masters...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.



  • Paralinx LLC



    G-Force Grips



    Tai Audio



    Rig Wheels Passport



    Wooden Camera



    Visual Products



    Glidecam



    Just Cinema Gear



    Ritter Battery



    FJS International



    Serious Gear



    Metropolis Post



    Abel Cine



    New Pro Video - New and Used Equipment



    Gamma Ray Digital Inc



    CineLab



    Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS



    Broadcast Solutions Inc


×
×
  • Create New...