Journal of the Faculty of Humanities and Human Sciences - Volume 3

Car Chase as an “Attraction”: Comparison between Point-of-View Shots in Bullitt and The French Connection

Hasegawa, Koichi

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Many Hollywood blockbusters have been recreated as popular theme park attractions. What is the similarity between action films and these attractions? It is that they directly address the audience/participants, implying that both action cinema and attractions set out to provide them with bodily thrills. This viewpoint was first presented in a seminal essay,“The Cinema of Attractions,”written by film historian Tom Gunning;it characterizes early films as emblematic of a type of cinema that showcases spectacles as sheer entertainment rather than one that tells a story. In this sense, action cinema that aims to address the audience directly may be referred to thrilling action films and the rise of such films is a notable phenomenon in present-day Hollywood. Car chase scenes are one of the keys to interpreting this phenomenon because almost all action films incorporate them as a strong draw. Hollywood’s contemporary enthusiasm for car chases began in the late 1960’s,when two car chase movies ― Bullitt and The French Connection ― released a few years apart became smash hits. The car chases depicted in these films were quite different from the ones that preceded them in terms of conveying the reality of the chase and the sense of speed. Both films employed point-of-view shots to give the audience the feeling of driving a car at a high speed. The French Connection, in particular, succeeded in creating the pure kinetic image of speed. In other words, these point-of-view shots attempted to address the audience directly and can be considered a component of the cinema of attractions. A car chase is,in short,the most simple and the most effective way to appeal to the viewer’s emotions directly, which is what makes movies with car chases similar to theme park attractions. In this context, The French Connection that not only incorporates an exciting car chase sequence but is also well known for the speedy development of its narrative, both of which are two characteristics of an action blockbuster, can be regarded as the archetype of contemporary thrilling action cinema.