What this film really embodies in sentiment, is that it's cool. Even the characters are alternative, since one is a sex obsessed gangster with a penchant for showy gestures and little conviction, and the other is a pixie haired student, intent on being free and unburdened. They don't seem to have the same ire for traditional constructs as Hollywood heroes and heroines of the past. Throw in chase scenes, sex, jazz, and rough editing and shooting and this film is the epitome of new and smooth.
Even though I didn't fully understand the New Wave movement before I saw this film, I immensely enjoyed how vibrant this film was.
Breathless continues to shock and surprise 50 years on
It really is the first instance of a director not caring about the constraints of filmmaking, and just makes a film that embodies new ideals and tries to tell a story without the problems of plot or structure. For anyone who wants to watch a film that feels timeless in many ways and yet very classic, this is the film for you.
I do believe that reoccurring moments throughout this film really hold up, and the physical signature that the main character gives after he smokes his cigarettes or is around his lady, is very memorable. This is one of the best classics I have seen, and the plot thickens as the film progresses. Although it shows it's age at times, making many jump cuts, it is forgivable when you are immersed in this incredibly told story.
After hearing so damn much about this movie and its reputation, I was sure that I would either love it, or be disappointed by it, mostly because it couldn't possibly have lived up to the hype. Well, now that I've watched it, I'm gonna give it a review, but I'm gonna be bold and saw that, despite all that I'm about to write, I think I might need to see it again before I can really assess how I feel about it.
I should probably just watch it again before I do this review, but I don't have the time right now, so just there. Jean-Luc Godard's feature debut a seminal part of the French New Wave is a breezy, hip, and wonderful 90 minute joy ride that pretty much defined several areas of life and cinema, creating an influence that still lives on to this day.
As per the hallmarks of the FNW, this film features improvised dialogue, location shooting with natural lighting , and a loose narrative structure. In the case of this film though, the narrative is not only loose, it's almost non existant. I mean, really, the plot is that of a petty criminal modeling himself after Bogart who kills a man, goes on the run, and seeks refuge in the company of his American girlfriend.
That it's The bulk of the movie is just crusining around or chilling at home, with talking being the most dominant activity that occurs with smoking and being cool right behind. By definition this is a crime film, yet it's really just a fun hang out movie. People just hang out and be cool and stylish, and that's it. But this film is done in such a great way that I undersatand why it is so beloved and influential.
Godard's trademark use of jump cuts can be a bit off putting at first but they add to the spontaneity of things. Stylistically, this film is top notch, but in terms of cinematic style and all aorund design. The clothes, music, sets, and all of that are just awesome. I kind of hate this movie for being so cool and hip. I'm probably just jealous. This film is pretentious, I won't lie, but I feel like a traitor for calling it out. Maybe Godard didn't plan on it being that way, or maybe he did and I'm just a fool for buying into it like so many others have.
Regardless, this is one of those films whose legacy you can't deny, even if it isn't your thing. You really do need to see this, as it is required viewing for even the most casual of film lovers. Chabrol later claimed that he only visited the set twice and Truffaut's biggest contribution was persuading Godard to cast Liliane David in a minor role. Godard wrote the script as he went along. He told Truffaut, "Roughly speaking, the subject will be the story of a boy who thinks of death and of a girl who doesn't.
Godard also named several characters after people he had known earlier in his life when he lived in Geneva. Truffaut believed Godard's change to the ending was a personal one.
Jean-Luc chose a violent end because he was by nature sadder than I At the end, when the police are shooting at him one of them said to his companion, 'Quick, in the spine! Jean-Paul Belmondo had already appeared in a few feature films prior to Breathless, but he had no name recognition outside France at the time Godard was planning the film. In order to broaden the film's commercial appeal, Godard sought out a prominent leading lady who would be willing to work in his low-budget film.
He came to Jean Seberg through her then-husband, Francois Moreuil, with whom he had been acquainted. Godard ended up giving Seberg's husband a small part in the film.
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After the film's success, she collaborated with Godard again on the short Le Grand Escroc , which revived her Breathless character. Godard had initially wanted cinematographer Michel Latouche to shoot the film after having worked with him on his first short films. De Beauregard hired Raoul Coutard instead, who was under contract to him. Godard envisaged Breathless as a reportage documentary , and tasked cinematographer Raoul Coutard to shoot the entire film on a hand-held camera , with next to no lighting.
He therefore took metre lengths of HPS film sold for 35mm still cameras and spliced them together to metre rolls. The production was filmed on location in Paris during the months of August and September in ,  using an Eclair Cameflex. Almost the whole film had to be dubbed in post-production because of the noisiness of the Cameflex camera  and because the Cameflex was incapable of synchronized sound. Filming began on August 17, No permission was received to shoot the film in its various locations mainly the side streets and boulevards of Paris either, adding to the spontaneous feel that Godard was aiming for.
Actor Richard Balducci has stated that shooting days ranged from 15 minutes to 12 hours, depending on how many ideas Godard had that day. Producer Georges de Beauregard wrote a letter to the entire crew complaining about the erratic shooting schedule. Coutard says that on a day that Godard had called in sick de Beauregard bumped into the director at a cafe and the two got into a fist fight. Godard shot most of the film chronologically, with the exception of the first sequence, which was shot towards the end of the shoot.
Breathless () - Rotten Tomatoes
This location was difficult to secure, but Godard was determined to shoot there after having lived at the hotel after returning from South America in the early s. Instead of renting a dolly with complicated and time-consuming tracks to lay, Godard and Coutard rented a wheelchair for the film that Godard often pushed himself. Writing for Combat Magazine in , Pierre Marcabru observed, "It seems that, if we had footage of Godard shooting his film, we would discover a sort of accord between the dramatized world in front of the camera Belmondo and Seberg playing a scene and the working world behind it Godard and Raoul Coutard shooting the scene , as if the wall between the real and projected worlds had been torn down.
Decugis has said that the film had a bad reputation before its premiere as the worst film of the year. Coutard said that "there was a panache in the way it was edited that didn't match at all the way it was shot. The editing gave it a very different tone than the films we were used to seeing. Andrew Sarris analyzed it as existentially representing "the meaninglessness of the time interval between moral decisions. In his biography of Godard, Richard Brody wrote in , "The seminal importance of the film was recognized immediately.
In January — prior to the film's release — Godard won the Jean Vigo Prize, awarded 'to encourage an auteur of the future' Breathless opened in Paris The eventual profit was substantial, rumored to be fifty times the investment.
The film's success with the public corresponded to its generally ardent and astonished critical reception Breathless, as a result of its extraordinary and calculated congruence with the moment, and of the fusion of its attributes with the story of its production and with the public persona of its director, was singularly identified with the media responses it generated. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.
Against their proper sensibilities, many of the Brits don't much like the brash Yanks, After being arrested during a manic episode, a man who suffers from bipolar disorder is treated by a psychiatrist who begins to develop romantic feelings towards him. Two brothers who are forced off their farm in the debt stricken mid-west become folk heroes when they begin robbing the banks that have been foreclosing on farmers. Jesse has to get out of Las Vegas quickly, and steals a car to drive to L. On the way he shoots a police man.
When he makes it to L. As the film progresses, the police get closer to him, and the crimes escalate. Okay, so the idea is to achieve emptiness so that we may be actually informed by what it is we see. To train an eye for details that doesn't react or classify or evaluate but instead grasps effortlessly the totality of what a film means to us. In this process, naturally we have to discard our preconceptions and routine streams of thought; who made the film, is it art-house, does it belong in a list of masterpieces. A bunch of those here; a remake of a well known French film, the presence of Richard Gere usually signifying fluff , the very idea of a film that never made much sense to begin with.
Who needs a Breathless remake, much less the Hollywood version?
But we got it, so what about it? The Godard film was about young people coming to discover for the first time the struggle with important things, about love and meaning dealt with in the pretentious, silly, superficial ways of youth. What tied the struggle together was a boyhood fantasy about movies. We had a protagonist acting out an imaginary gangster part and the reality of the film arranged around him as a movie plot in which to act the part. It was about the safe distance provided by the fictional as conflated into the emotional distance between two people.
Now watch how the remake transcribes this. A movie hunk 'exhuding studly scent' as another reviewer aptly puts it. Recklessly oblivious to anything but the present moment and what it has to offer, he is the very dream of movies.
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A doofus at first sight but who instinctively seems to have grasped the essence of life by the balls. As much a target of ridicule as admiration. We see him empathize with utmost seriousness with Silver Surfer comics! Something akin to a destiny for him. But we're not inside him, we're siding with the French girl who's come to LA to study architecture. The girl who plans, thinks, wants the buildings she will create to last. The perfectly logical human being who along with us is swept away by the irresistible allure of an existence without bounds, centered in the 'now' and radiating outwards.
Valerie Kapriskie is a perfect match here, an Ali McGraw to Steve McQueen; she's great because she can't act to hide what seems a genuine infatuation with Gere's adolescent antics mixed with genuine frustration. We travel with them through a fetish dream of LA. Cars are fire-engine red Thunderbirds, summer dresses and even telephones pink. I've been going this month through a phase of cinematic vacation in Los Angeles, and this one has the best sense of place of anything I've seen yet. The dark joint with the jukebox, the empty streets blowing with hot summer wind.
But it's more than a ride of pure, exhilarating movie pleasure, there's something to talk about here. It's peppered throughout, but centered in a scene by a pool. The girl wants to know what is behind the man's face, what kind of nothingness. He blurts something about love, no doubt cribbed from some magazine.
- Breathless () directed by Jean-Luc Godard • Reviews, film + cast • Letterboxd!
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- Film: 50 years of Jean‑Luc Godard's Breathless | Film | The Guardian.