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Breathless (The Criterion Collection)

4.3 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Daniel Boulanger, Henri-Jacques Huet, Roger Hanin
  • Directors: Jean-Luc Godard
  • Writers: Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut
  • Producers: Georges de Beauregard
  • Format: Color, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Oct. 23 2007
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B000TXNDUW
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #44,639 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

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.

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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.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This is hands-down one of the best movies ever made. Just the opening seconds of Jean-Paul Belmondo smoking announces a whole new attitude towards youth and life that hits with the freshness of the Beatles. "Breathless" creates a world of love and motion and danger and art that's single-handedly responsible for at least half the clichés you have in your head this second about Paris. Truffaut's script is excellent, nearly every shot is original and revelatory, but what I loved most about the movie was the apparently random, documentary feel Godard gave to so many of the scenes: Belmondo with one lens missing from his glasses, the faces he and Jean Seberg make in the mirror, the Air France clerk sticking her tongue out at her boss, etc. How did Godard manage to be so stylish and truthful at the same time? This is a movie that never lets you forget it's a movie, telling a story in a way no novel or play ever could. "Citizen Kane" is the only other film I can think of that does so much with the medium. One for the ages.
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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 were. So many aspects of Godard's stylistic achievements, such as the unabashedly hand-held camera, have become so popular in music videos, TV, and the movies, that its use here may not seem notable. Film critic David Sterritt's commentary track does an excellent job of conveying the importance of this first feature-length Godard opus, and also emphasizes the many ways in which the director is having fun with his audience. As Sterritt demonstrates, Godard uses what he has enjoyed from his life as a lover of movies to deliver a filmgoing experience that contains the humor and action that he enjoys. Godard lingers on the lengthy interactions between Breathless' two young actors, allowing us all to savor their intimacy, and also uses Brechtian self-conscious techniques to encourage the viewer to stop and consider his filmic experience. Breathless is a great introduction to Godard, much more accessible to current American audiences than his later work. Watch the movie first, then watch it again with the excellent commentary track.
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*Breathless* is a cornerstone for any cineaste's video library. It's also MANDATORY for students of film. Don't argue. Live with it. And spare me the arguments like the ones I've read here about the movie being "dated". (PuhLEEZE.) I take out my red pen and write "prove?" in the margin. Just because everyone uses jump-cuts today doesn't mean *Breathless*, as an autonomous work of art, is dated. I've seen many new movies this year, and none of them have challenged me half as much as this old New Wave warhorse continues to do. Godard's putative "homage" to American gangster pictures challenges you right from the first frames, with the get-to-the-point editing and especially with the protagonist, Michel Poiccard (Jean-Paul Belmondo), who within the first 5 minutes steals a car and kills a cop. Godard gives us a "hero" who is amoral, and, worst of all, not particularly bright. Quentin Tarantino, who borrowed mightily from this film, couldn't resist giving his criminals witty things to say about Pop Culture . . . but Belmondo's Poiccard has almost nothing to say, witty or otherwise, although he does jabber on at length about cars and pretty girls. There IS one telling moment wherein he proclaims that he prefers "nothing" to "grief", but despite that statement's basic affinity with the movie's overall existentialist mood, it's also just macho posturing. The triumph of the film, however, is not Belmondo or even the ground-breaking narrative style but Jean Seberg as Belmondo's American girlfriend. At first we're thinking that she's a pixie-like Audrey Hepburn type, what with her radically short haircut and insouciance.Read more ›
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The film that validated the French New Wave and consummated the now-ubiquitous cinéma vérité, "fly-on-the-wall" cinematography of modern independent film, Jean-Luc Godard's debut feature Breathless, as influential as it's obviously been (one need only gaze as far back as the extended bedroom scene of 2002's "Late Marriage" to catch a recognizable echo of its ingenuity), still remains as challenging today as it must have been in 1959. Stylistically, the jagged editing technique is what will always call the most attention to itself: Godard chose to snip out small pockets of celluloid almost arbitrarily between most of the action and dialogue, ostensibly to cut down the running time, but effectively to mimic the erratic, shallow attention span of his characters. In turn, the deliberateness of this device tends to distract from the essential simplicity of Godard's narrative, about a killer on the run (Jean-Paul Belmondo) who plots to flee the country with his Parisian lover (Jean Seberg). Revisiting this quaint work of artistry today reveals that Godard, in his vision of existentialist ennui and contemporary youth, has never really been intellectually surpassed in this subject matter by any subsequent film directors. For one matter, his picture's visual impudence alone renders most other cinéma vérité timid in comparison. It's one of the few films of its kind that actually dares to appear as clumsy as possible.
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