Many artists and filmmakers agree that rules must be broken. Though certain rules and standards must be considered in producing a film, many filmmakers have enacted their own rules rather than using the platform as a blank canvas to paint whatever they want, even if it means breaking the Heros Journey, the 180-degree rule, and others.
Although some rule-breaking films have not fully succeeded in their endeavors, others, like Mirror, Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, and Inland Empire, have broken the rules in the best ways possible.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson)'s story is interwoven with Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames), his actress wife Mia (Uma Thurman), boxer Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis), cleaner Winston Wolfe (Harvey Keitel) and a pair of armed burglars Pumpkin (Tim Roth) and Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer).
Pulp Fiction is told in a non-linear structure, consisting of seven sequences, but it is the heavy dialogues that stand out the most in screenwriting. For Pulp Fiction (and many of his other films), thats what Tarantino did.
Inland Empire (2006)
Anyone who knows David Lynch knows that he is the inventor of surrealist filmmaking. Nikki Grace (Laura Dern) becomes enmeshed with Sue Blue's life in her last feature film Inland Empire, and things become stranger by the minute.
Many Lynch films, such as Inland Empire, lack a logical flow. We often enquire about what happens in his films. What makes Lynch unique is his ability to confuse and enthuse his audience at the same time.
The lack of a cohesive narrative that makes the film so different and challenging is the fact that it follows different characters through bizarre vignettes set around one room; it becomes a dreamlike rumination on themes of isolation and despair rather than presenting a linear narrative. - Linus Tolliday, Taste of Cinema
Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
Man with a Movie Camera is an experimental silent Soviet documentary film directed by Dziga Vertov, shot by his brother Mikhail Kaufman, and edited by Vertofs wife Yelizaveta Svilova. The film chronicles urban life in Moscow and Ukrainian areas such as Kyiv and Odesa in the 1920s.
Vertov and his film have been credited for generating and utilizing many cinematic techniques, including multiple exposures, fast/slow motion, freeze frames, match cuts, split screens, and Dutch angles.
The incredible gift that cinema offered us, of arranging what we see, arranging it, imposing a rhythm and language on it, was made explicit and poetic. - Roger Ebert
Airplane!, as the title implies, is a spoof comedy film that humorously mocks the 70s' line-up of disaster movies. An ex-fighter pilot with a drinking disorder, Ted Striker (Robert Hays) and his ex-girlfriend, now flight attendant Elaine (Julie Hagerty), have to get the plane to a safe landing.
Although Airplane! is not the first film to break the fourth wall, it has, among other films that have utilized the technique, been recognized for looking directly at the audience to enhance its comedy. Several outlets have ranked Airplane! as one of the funniest comedies and greatest films of all time.
The Shining (1980)
Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, based on a Stephen King novel, has been one of the most famous psychological horror films to date. While Kubrick maintained visual symmetry in many scenes of The Shining, he also violated the 180-degree rule of filmmaking.
In films, breaking the 180-degree rule is generally not a good move as it can distort a viewer's perception of the scene and action. Over the years, however, many filmmakers have chosen to break the rule in order to create confusion or depict an abrupt mood shift in the narrative. In some ways, breaking the rule can enhance the story or the characters.
Lars Von Triers Dogville is set in a minimalist small town on a literal soundstage, where the story is broken into nine sections and a prologue. Grace Mulligan (Nicole Kidman) is an outsider in a small American town. The film received mixed reviews upon its release due to the directors' unconventional choices, such as setting the film on a soundstage with minimal scenery.
Several praised the film as an innovative artistic statement, while others felt it was overly emotional, some even describing it as unnecessarily lengthy and tedious.
Mirror, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. Its non-linear narrative captures a dying poet's personal experiences of Soviet culture. Mirror oscillates between black-and-white and color, and is projected as if in a dream state.
Mirror is rated as the 19th greatest film of all time by Sight & Sound, while English journalist Will Self describes it as the most beautiful film ever made, and the British Film Institute claims it was pioneered a poetic and richly allusive form.
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, is a Belgian film that depicts a day in the life of a housewife; cooking, cleaning, and taking care of her children. As part of her everyday routine, Jeanne also has sex with her male clients every afternoon.
Chantal Akerman's work was able to entice viewers to notice sequences otherwise left out of films. Akerman described the film as a love story for my mother, which recognizes that kind of woman. Akerman felt that the time had come to make a female-centric film, "because at that point, everybody was talking about women."
Chantal Akerman's direction is so untainted by Hollywood and its filmic conventions that it creates real-life onscreen. There are no non-diegetic music, no action sequences, no overt emotional revelations, and no twist ending. The camera prefers static shots, sparse dialogue, and a muted colour palette.