Search - Breathless on DVD


Breathless
Breathless
Actors: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Daniel Boulanger, Jean-Pierre Melville, Henri-Jacques Huet
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2001     1hr 30min

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 phot...  more »

     

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Movie Details

Actors: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Daniel Boulanger, Jean-Pierre Melville, Henri-Jacques Huet
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Creators: Jean-Luc Godard, Raoul Coutard, Cécile Decugis, Lila Herman, Georges de Beauregard, François Truffaut
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Fox Lorber
Format: DVD - Black and White,Full Screen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 11/20/2001
Original Release Date: 02/07/1961
Theatrical Release Date: 02/07/1961
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Black and White,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 18
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: French
Subtitles: English
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Movie Reviews

Essential French Cinema: Godard's 'A Bout de Souffle.'
G. Merritt | Boulder, CO | 09/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"As a French New Wave director, Jean-Luc Godard (1930) was at the head of his class. Drawing from politics, film history, French intellectualism, existential and Marxist philosophy, Godard's radical films challenged the conventions of Hollywood cinema and influenced French cinema. Breathless (1960) is among his most accessible films. With all the energy of a 1940s' American gangster B-movie, it tells the simple story of Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo), a French petty street thief, who steals a car and kills a policeman, while at the same time pursuing a naive American girl Patricia (Jean Seberg). She is wary of Michel's intentions and questions his lack of ambition, but proving that nice girls have a thing for bad boys, Patricia spends time with him in Paris before turning him in to the police. Using ragged editing techniques, handheld cameras, and a musical soundtrack that seems out of sync with the action, Godard succeeds at constantly reminding his audience that his film is an artificial reality having little to do with actual reality. Although the film's plot is thin, Breathless revolutionized French cinema. Of his films, Bande à part (also called Band of Outsiders - Criterion Collection) (1966) remains my Godard favorite and should not be missed.

The new dual-disc Criterion upgraded edition of Breathless includes a restored high-definition digital transfer (approved by director of photography Raoul Coutard), interviews with Godard, and actors Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, video essays: filmmaker and critic Mark Rappaport's "Jean Seberg" and critic Jonathan Rosenbaum's "Breathless as Film Criticism," an eighty-minute French documentary about the making of Breathless, with members of the cast and crew, the French theatrical trailer, and a booklet featuring writings from Godard, film historian Dudley Andrew, Francois Truffaut's original film treatment, and Godard's scenario.

G. Merritt"
Revolutionary & Dynamic, "Breathless" Still Electrifies!!
Jana L. Perskie | New York, NY USA | 05/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Rivette and Eric Rohmer were film connoisseurs, who all worked as movie critics for the same magazine. Between the years 1958 to 1964, this group transitioned into filmmaking, and, along with other directors, such as Agnés Varda, Jean-Pierre Melville and Louis Malle, ushered in the French New Wave Movement, (Nouvelle Vague). Their background in film theory and criticism was a major factor in motivating these artists to create a bold new cinema.

Jean-Luc Godard's first feature, "Breathless," was released in 1960, introducing the New Wave and changing cinema forever. Godard used jump cuts, handheld cameras, zoom lenses and a new editing style to take the viewer places never ventured before. No artificial, glossy stage sets in this movie. Along with the protagonists, we travel up and down small side streets, into local bars and sidewalk cafes, across boulevards and, for inconsequential moments, brush the lives of passers-by, who have nothing to do with the screenplay, but always play a role in our daily comings and goings. The fragmented rhythm of modern life is translated here. Godard used sound in the same way, adding street noises, bits of conversations and music to add to the movie's authenticity and pace. This was indeed innovative at the time. And it still holds up. Watching "Breathless" forty-five years after its debut, 21st century technology does not detract from its dynamism or relevance in the slightest. In fact, with each viewing, I find the film every bit as exciting and poignant as I did the first time.

Jean-Paul Belmondo plays the feckless, foul-mouthed car thief, anti-hero and Humphrey Bogart fan, Michel Poiccard. Just a few minutes after the opening credits conclude, Michel's status changes from small-time hood to cop killer. His life's plans alter drastically as he becomes a hunted fugitive. Michel remains cool enough, however, to visit an old girlfriend and steal some money. Bogart would have been proud - not of the theft, but of the style. Michel spots gamine-like American, Patricia Franchini, (the lovely Jean Seberg), selling copies of the Herald Tribune on the Champs-Elysees, and pursues her, with roguish smiles and moody pouts. He curses her and moves off fast, though, when she gives him a hard time. He likes his women more enthusiastic. Instead of getting out of town fast, Michel hangs with fellow thugs and steals more cars.

Patricia is an enigmatic character, who occasionally startles with her observations and revelations. Twenty years-old, with the naive face of an angel, she seems to have no direction or goals in life. She studies at the Sorbonne and says she wants to write, but is oddly detached. She shuns commitment. She does occasional odd jobs for the newspaper, but appears to live in a dream world. Of course Patricia winds up with Michel and together they gallivant around the gorgeous streets of Paris, as if they haven't a care in the world. Patricia does have at least one problem, however - she might be pregnant. Together the couple attempts to collect on a debt to raise enough cash to escape to Italy.

Godard captures incredibly intimate moments between the two lovers, particularly in one lengthy, extremely realistic bedroom episode, filled with small talk, tenderness, petty cruelties, eroticism, mind games, childhood memories shared and loneliness. At the scene's end we have a better understanding of the self destructive individuals who make-up this twosome. A sense of burgeoning doom, which has hovered in the background all along, begins to increase here. Michel's bravado also escalates with the level of danger and, to his credit, he remains true to his idol, Bogart, to the end. The conclusion boggles the mind, at least it has always impacted me emotionally in a major way.

Belmondo is brilliant as the restless thief, in this, his first film role. He reminds me of a French James Dean. Seberg is convincing and fresh. This is a dynamic film, witty, fast-paced, romantic and disturbing. It has long been a favorite of mine.
JANA"
Why you should buy this movie again
Jonathan E. Haynes | Berkeley, CA | 10/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In case the Criterion logo and the plethora of special features aren't enough to convince you that you should replace your old copy of this film, the fact that Raoul Coutard, the film's original DP, supervised the transfer should be the clincher. When you read early reviews of BREATHLESS, many of them talk about the radically disjointed quality of the image, the "mistakes" Godard purposely left in the final cut. It isn't just that these devices have been so thoroughly co-opted by pop culture that it is hard for us to notice them today - though this is also true; these effects (e.g., sun flares, faces in deep shadow, etc) have largely been "corrected" in previous video transfers. With Coutard involved in Criterion's issue, the film has undoubtedly been restored to some of its original, shocking, ragged beauty."
We still haven't caught our breath.
Kim Anehall | 10/24/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"*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. But she ain't no Sabrina: she's instead an all-too-familiar type of danger-cruising b---h blessed with that uncanny instinct of knowing when to jump ship when the going gets rough. Godard dares to be interested in these two, even spending an absurd half-hour with them as they loll around in bed, chatting about fornication and Faulkner (Belmondo: "Did you sleep with [Faulkner]?" Seberg: "Of course not!" Belmondo: "Then I'm not interested in him") during the film's middle section. This scene is the essence of Godard's accomplishment, and -- in cinematic terms -- remains very daring. But perhaps "daring" is a dated concept for today's movie-watchers. Perhaps they feel they've moved beyond films like this, and can thus be condescending about *Breathless* and other art-films from its era. I suspect these films are simply out of fashion, and today's audiences are not so much "jaded" as "complacent". [The DVD features commentary that contains nothing new for the veteran New Waver, but it may be of use for newbies.]"