Breathless (The Criterion Collection)
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There was before Breathless, and there was after Breathless. With its lack of polish, surplus of attitude, anything-goes crime narrative, and effervescent young stars Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg, Jean-Luc Godard's debut was a keen critique of the American film genres that inspired him as a film writer for Cahiers du cinema. Jazzy, free-form, and sexy, Breathless helped launch the French new wave and ensured cinema would never be the same.
The movie that heralded the French New Wave movement, this lean and exciting 1959 film directed by Jean-Luc Godard (A Woman Is a Woman, Weekend) broke new ground not only in its unorthodox use of editing and hand-held photography, but in its unflinching and nonjudgmental portrayal of amoral youth. Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg play two young lovers on the run from the law after Belmondo kills a cop and steals a car. Soon they are on an odyssey through the streets of Paris searching for some money he is owed so that he and his American girlfriend can escape to Italy. As a chase picture it features some startling photography on the streets of Paris, but as a romance it defies expectations, existing as part tragedy and part Bonnie and Clyde crime movie. The result is a wholly original film experience. Inspiring not only a remake starring Richard Gere but numerous films and television series, Breathless is an essential part of motion picture history. --Robert Lane --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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On a few more tries of the "groundbreaker of the French new-wave" (which I believe was at it's absolute best in Truffaut's 400 Blows, accessible to a wider audience), I see that Godard, as much as he probably loves his characters, he despises them as well, in a sense. It could even be suggested that Godard sees himself in the lead Belmondo's role, and if that's the case then Godard is practicing the old self-reflection trick (though the story is loosely based on a newspaper article, scripted by Truffaut himself). For those that can take such filmmaking, this is the treat of the week. And for film buffs it should be seen at least once to get an idea where most "affluent" independent filmmakers get their edge, and indeed its rhythm will give inspiration to struggling filmmakers. I might even see it again in several months to remind myself how inspired the jump cuts were that Godard used. But, I certainly don't think that it's among the greatest films ever.
This film revolves around the character of Michel, a common hood, who gets mixed up in the murder of a police officer while trying to win over the heart of the woman he loves. The plot to the story is simple, but the outcome is exciting.
"Breathless" is definitely not for everyone. It makes you think about hidden messages, symbolism, etc. However, it is very enjoyable and entertaining. I would highly suggest this film. I think everyone should be exposed to a Jean-Luc Godard film at least once in his or her life! This is an excellent movie!
That said, though, this movie is a lot of just pure fun. In the leads, Jean-Paul Belmondo and the absolutely gorgeous Jean Seberg seem to inject their portrayals of young thief-and-killer Michel Poiccard and his indecisive American girlfriend Patricia with a sense of humor and joy. The couple they portray are given moments where they're not really pushing the action forward, where they're reveling in what it feels like to be young and in lust, if not love. The scenes where they're lying in bed just talking or riding together in a car and talking about Paris are perhaps the most delightful aspect of the film.
Even though the character of Michel is almost certainly doomed from the moment he steals a car and guns down a police officer, he has a lot of fun with his last days, wandering the streets, stealing from friends and trying to get Patricia to sleep with him. Patricia, likewise, is given moments of joy, despite worrying about her pregnancy and job, wondering if she should betray the man she loves to the police or run away with him to Rome.
That spirit, in addition to its technical wizardry and the passion of its makers, is what made the film different in 1960, and it's the spirit behind it that just makes "Breathless" fun Sunday-afternoon viewing now.
Most recent customer reviews
This is a must for any cinema fan. A true avant-garde masterpiece. Strong performances and script, very urgent jazz and improvisation passion and energy. This is French New Wave. Read morePublished on Nov. 25 2013 by Mathieu N.
This movie is full of a bunch of slow moving character developments. There's a bunch of long dialogues between men and women that are very drab and superficial. Read morePublished on Feb. 20 2004 by Hippie Smell
The reaction of someone who is not a film historian:
This is obviously not intended as a work of surrealism or Dada. Read more
Older movies are like Shakespeare. They are to be appreciated by all and enjoyed by few. BREATHLESS, while cutting-edge at the time, plays in today's world like any student film... Read morePublished on Sept. 7 2003
This film should have been directed by Francois Truffaut, who wrote it. A so-so movie with Belmondo being the bright spot is his portrayal, however the film never really lets the... Read morePublished on March 9 2003
The situations in this movie are so boring, and the leading male character is so shallow -- even vacuous, that the edgy Godard cinema verite style is blunted. Read morePublished on Jan. 16 2003 by Zechristof
More than forty years later, it may be hard for modern audiences to understand how revolutionary Jean-Luc Godard and his Nouvelle Vague (French New Wave) contemporaries really... Read morePublished on Jan. 15 2003
one of the best films ever made, breathless will take your breath away. no need to say any more. but to all you people who pretend to know about godard and then complain that the... Read morePublished on Jan. 14 2003 by momo
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