It seems ironic, but if there was any film that did leave me breathless when viewing it for the first time, then it was Jean-Juc Godard’s 1960 film, Breathless.
Some criticisms are often brought up suggesting that the film is paced too quickly. Yes it is a very fast paced film and even for me at times things are unclear or feel under explained. However, I feel the journey is so frantic and lively that at these times, before I get a chance to think about this the film as moved on to the next wonderful set piece. I think the trick with Breathless is to keep up with the film and not let it leave you behind.
It seems sort of silly but the plot of this film can be boiled down to this sentence: “A young car thief kills a policeman and tries to persuade a girl to hide in Italy with him.” The story is very simple and at times feels as though there is no story. However, I think the film has lots to say about life in Paris for young liberal minded people in 1960, and partially how American culture influenced the times massively.
Another criticism is with the films main male character, played by Jean-Paul Belmondo. Belmondo plays as Michel Poiccard, basically a murderer and a thief that cares little about others and has a terrible attitude toward women in general. This does not sound all that appealing and to be honest, his character (though played well) is my least favourite aspect of Breathless. However one could say that the character does get his ultimate comeuppance in the films final scene.
The film is a wonderful experimental ride that I would highly recommend to anyone interested in cinema and its history. Be prepared to taken very quickly into this story and to have your preconceptions of film form twisted and mixed up until you no longer care, just enjoy the ride while it lasts.
Darrell Ron Tuffs
- Weekend (bergermax01.wordpress.com)
- Elle in A bout de souffle (brandsandfilms.com)
- Jean-Luc Godard – Breathless / À bout de souffle (1960) (cmufilmography.wordpress.com)
- Pierrot Le Fou: Godard’s Underrated Classic (sarahlawrencefilmjournal.wordpress.com)
- Outtakes: Jean-Luc Godard (thehindu.com)
- Critical Analysis Prompts: Weekend and Social Context (engl245umd.wordpress.com)