New Blu Wave

“I consider my Breathless as being the end of old cinema. Destroying all the old principles rather than creating something new.”
Jean-Luc Godard, 1961

So much has been written and said about Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless, one of the indisputable landmarks of world cinema (right up there with The Birth of a Nation, Sunrise and Citizen Kane), that the prospect of lecturing or writing about it as a film studies instructor seems a daunting challenge. Nonetheless, Criterion’s recent Blu-ray release offers an opportunity to see Godard’s revolutionary film with fresh eyes — for the low-budget, goofy and freewheeling good time that it is. Since falling under its spell at the age of 19, I have seen Breathless more than 40 times in every conceivable format, with each new viewing feeling like a visit with a dear, old friend. And so it is that I feel highly qualified to say that this crisp new high-definition transfer yields heretofore unseen details, making an already timeless film feel fresher and more modern than ever.

Based on a treatment by Francois Truffaut, Breathless tells the story of Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo), a small-time Parisian car thief who kills a cop for no good reason and then spends the rest of the film half-heartedly avoiding a police dragnet while simultaneously attempting to convince his American girlfriend, Patricia (Jean Seberg), to run away to Italy with him. Although the tale is familiar, the telling is not; eschewing the Hollywood sheen one might expect from such typical crime-movie material, Breathless instead self-consciously juxtaposes “movie” elements with “real life” elements in a way that reflects the exuberantly playful and intellectually provocative spirit of the then-29 year old Godard. Incredibly, it was his first feature, although the years he had spent as a film critic for Cahiers du Cinema must have prepared him well for conceiving radical new ways to employ sound and image.

Unlike most of Godard’s challenging, post-1967 work (for which I mostly have tremendous respect), Breathless works precisely because its experimental/formal aspects (such as the celebrated use of the jump-cut) are balanced against a portrait of young love enacted by a pair of enormously charismatic performers. This is most obvious during the 25-minute real-time sequence where Michel and Patricia cavort in the tiny hotel room where she is staying; as they hop in and out of bed, listen to the radio, smoke endless cigarettes and talk about everything under the sun, Patricia continually attempts to engage Michel in discussions of her favorite artists: Mozart, Faulkner and Renoir (the elder). For his part, Michel mostly attempts to cajole Patricia into taking off her clothes. The restless, youthful energy of Belmondo and Seberg makes us not care that the film’s plot has temporarily stopped dead in its tracks. And why shouldn’t it? We know it’s just a movie anyway, as Godard is all too happy to remind us, and who doesn’t want to just hang out with these attractive and interesting people for an extended period of time?

Like most early New Wave films, Breathless was shot quickly and cheaply on location, giving the film an incredible documentary value. Godard and master cinematographer Raoul Coutard use natural lighting, handheld camera and extensive tracking shots (most of which were taken with a hidden camera) to make the streets of Paris come alive. In both this respect, and in what might be called its willingness to “de-center” the plot, Breathless resembles nothing so much as the Italian Neo-realist films of Godard’s hero Roberto Rossellini. However, unlike Rome, Open City or Paisan, which are downbeat and even relentlessly bleak in their depiction of social problems, Breathless is an upbeat and joyous celebration of life, which is fitting given the drastically different social and economic conditions between 1940s Rome and 1950s Paris. Nevertheless, Godard’s attempt to bring to fruition the paradoxical concept of “French Neo-realism” (a phrase he had perversely used as a critic to describe Jacques Tati’s Jour de Fete) is a good example of both his audacity and his impish sense of humor.

The most radical aspect of Breathless, although obviously less impactful today, is its self-reflexivity. Throughout the movie Godard employs Brechtian distancing devices that constantly remind us that we are watching a movie. These range from having Michel directly address the camera (“Faire foutre!”), and thereby breaking the fourth wall, to the more subtle ways that Godard dissolves the line between character and performer so that we end up with, in Godard’s own words, a documentary about the actors; this is true not only of Michel/Belmondo and Patricia/Seberg but also of Parvelescu the arrogant novelist, played by ace French director Jean-Pierre Melville (the first in a long line of older, sage-like figures in Godard). The most obvious example of Godard’s proclivity for self-reflexivity however, is the aforementioned jump-cut, where frames have been pulled from the middle of shots during the editing process. What had previously seemed like a mistake in the work of other directors gives Breathless its very modern and dynamic sense of pacing, a rhythm that one critic has likened to a needle skipping across a record.

Speaking personally, I will always remember Breathless as the movie that made me fall deeper in love with the film medium. Much like how the music of Bob Dylan sent me on a journey of discovery through traditional folk and blues music, Godard’s film performed for me the crucial function of unlocking the secret history of cinema. How could I not want to track down every reference in this movie-mad movie in which every frame seemed so pregnant with meaning, where affectionate nods to Monogram Pictures, Humphrey Bogart, Bob le Flambeur, They Live By Night, The Harder They Fall, Whirlpool, Westbound and Forty Guns combine together and explode in a giddy post-modern cocktail (before the word “post-modernism” even existed)?

Criterion’s Blu-ray release of Breathless, as with all of their Blu-ray releases so far, is exemplary. The film’s charcoal gray palette has a thicker, richer texture than even their very good standard DVD release from a couple years ago. The film-grain quality is pleasing and fine object detail is drastically improved. As someone who first saw Breathless on the old “Connoisseur” VHS label, I can only imagine how the Blu-ray will impress a whole new generation of young cinephiles. If there is one drawback to this new release of Breathless, it’s that Criterion has failed to correct some of the minor English subtitle inaccuracies, carried over wholesale from the DVD. For instance, Patricia’s line to Michel, “Say something nice” should be translated as “Tell me something nice” in order for Godard’s reference to Johnny Guitar to make sense. And, let’s face it, the French “faire foutre” should be translated not as “get stuffed” (a phrase no English-speaker actually uses), but instead as the more accurate and common expression of “go fuck yourself.”

Check out Godard’s original theatrical trailer for Breathless via YouTube below:


About michaelgloversmith

Filmmaker, author and Film Studies instructor. View all posts by michaelgloversmith

56 responses to “New Blu Wave

  • George Kostopoulos

    Before the screening, i had mixed feelings about breathless. I thought the plot seemed too average and reincarnated. Then I quickly realized how many comical references to Hollywood gangster film occurred throughout breathless. This molded my original view concerning the movies plot into one that was by far more original and genuine. Michel is one of my favorite characters throughout film. Its as if hes too slick for his era that really make his performance stand out. His character is so convincing and rounded that audience members focus their attention on him more than they do on the scenery or plot. His charm and attitude is what creates for the hotel scene to be better than any other twenty five minute hotel scene could possibly aspire to become. You have to have great actors to make such a scene seem interesting and awesome. I defiantly agree with you concerning the scenes importance regardless of its relevance to the plot or anything else for that matter.Its was just another opportunity to create even more sexually orientated desires for Michele to be presented, which are funny to watch. It was also cool how Godard used reflexive aspects to remind viewers that their watching a movie not a documentary. I personal loved the use of jump cuts simply because their direct and allow for the audience to make connection with images. The use of jump cuts definitely fits Michel’s fast paced,smooth character. And creates a very modern feel for the movie. With all that being said Breathless turned out to be one of my favorite movies from the past. This is simply because of Michel character, hes a mans man, they’re couldn’t be a boy in Paris who didn’t want to be him. Thats how influential his role seemed to be, from his dialogue to his mannerisms, he sold the film.

    • michaelgloversmith

      Thanks for being first to respond, George. I’m glad that the actual screening of the film shattered any preconceptions you had about the plot based on my introductory remarks. The plot is indeed average and recycled but this movie is not about plot, which I think some of your classmates didn’t quite get. I think they wanted it to be a Hollywood-style crime film, which prevented them from appreciating it for what it is: a parody/critique of Hollywood-style crime films. I also like your description of the way the jump-cut allows the viewers to “make connections with the images.” The point is to force us to be active viewers. One of your classmates said that he find the jump-cuts “distracting.” Of course! That’s the whole point — this movie is nothing but distractions!

  • brian kim

    Brian Kim

    A much needed cigarette was had after i watched this film. To be honest the movie i thought the movie had a nice flow to it and the jump cuts did not bother me. I didn’t find plot of the movie very interesting, but i definitely give props to Godard for being such an innovator and pioneer during that time. I could only image what people thought of when they would watch a movie and see editing such as jump cuts or talking right to the audience; or how funny the usage of shooting on scene must have been sometimes. People probably had no idea what was going on and i think their curiosity made the scenes a bit more interesting. I may a missed a few jump cuts, but like i said early it really didn’t stick out as much as i thought it would. I did however notice and enjoyed those random conversations that Michel would have with Patricia. I found it gave a little more insight on the characters and how they are as “people” in the movie. I also found the movie quite funny, especially in the beginning when he is driving in the car and he’s just talking to himself; also playing and waving the gun around.

  • Mario Nudo

    Breathless was a great movie. Goddard took me on a ride of a day in the life of car theif and ladies man Michel. Although on this day he unfortunately meets his demise. Throughout the movie Godard made me feel like I was hanging out with Michel and Patricia. The viewer goes where they go, and listens to there conversations (kind of like a third wheel).Godard includes you in the movie by having Michel address the camera directly. I for one didn’t mind the jump cuts, although at times I felt they were being used where they weren’t neccessary. Like when Patricia is getting in the car the camera jump cuts and doubles back to her opeing the car door twice. Other times it fits perfectly like when Michel is yelling at the taxi driver, the scene becomes a montage of commands. I don’t quite understand Michel and Patricia’s relationship. Michel says he’s in love with her but yet he is always gawking at other women, he makes fun of her, and they even sleep with other people. It’s no wonder their relationship didn’t work.. Overall breathless was a good film.

  • Naafe Hakeem

    I think “Breathless” was a good movie. Goddard did a nice job displaying lots of characteristics of the French New Wave in this film.
    For example, one of the characteristics of the French New Wave is that the film is taken through tracking, panning, and hand held camera shots. As you mentioned above, there were tracking shots and handheld camera shots in this film. One of the hand held camera shots I noticed was when in the beginning when Michael steals a car. While he is driving, you can clearly see the camera moving more than it should. By the amount of movement in that scene, you can figure out that there is a handheld camera being used.
    Another French New Wave characteristic I noticed was the jump-cuts. Although some people found the jump-cuts distracting, I did not have a problem with it. When Michael and Patricia are driving to the restaurant, the scene jumps while they are driving. I felt it sped the film up a little and made it more smoother.
    A thing I liked in the film was that when Michael and Patricia are walking, all the people walking around them were staring at them. It was unusual because we are so used to those people being actors, but it was fun to watch their reactions.
    The success Goddard achieved through these new techniques reminds me of a quote. “Following other people will only take you as far as they go, but going your own way will help you discover things never imagined.” Although other directors at this time were using similar and previously used styles to create their films, Goddard decided to take a risk and create his own style. Handheld camera shots, jump-cuts, and talking directly to the camera are all things in a movie that would annoy the audience, but I feel these new tactics proved to the film industry that taking risks isn’t always a bad idea.

  • Richie Brennan

    The picture Breathless is the most unusual structure films I have ever viewed before.Breathless conventions reminds me of Italian Neo-realism and French Poetic Realism. For instants, Miche and Patricia act 100% like ordinary people. Miche is a man whore and a smooth talker. He doesn’t give a shit about a woman’s reputation. All he wants to do is have sex. Italian Neo-realism fits in his perspective. In the real world, young guys just want to do it. Its true.
    French Poetic Realism also plays a role the film. Miche and Patricia for example. The are both friends. Miche is in love with Patricia and Patricia is not. So, criticism happens in there scenario. We see in the end, that since she finds out he killed a cop, Patricia calls the cops. Quiet frequently, their is no happy ending. Miche finally comes to ends meet and pays the price. Patricia I was shocked she called the police, (it was unusual). I would liked to see that she would of turned herself in for stealing the car.
    The whole idea of jump-cuts through out the film made it intriguing to watch. In most Hollywood films we actors/actresses taking there sweet ass time,(when there occupied with something). In Breathless, when Miche and Patricia are either walking, smoking after sex, or stealing cars the shots are skipping to the other objective. For example, I could be sitting on the toilet and the next scene I am washing my hands, ( frame is in the same spot). I praised this element . Its skipping through time and space.
    Futher more, the jump-cuts are in a smooth course. The creator Jean-Lue Godards made this movie a classic cinema film. Witch I do believe in my point of view. I think that movie goers/viewers wont ever see a perfect rhythm of jump-cuts in a movie.


      Peter Montesantos

      I must say, I was rather fond of Godard’s French New Wave film “Breathless.” I thought that Godard does a great job of portraying his very own unique “auteur” theory with many different mechanisms showing up throughout.
      My favorite mechanism of the French New Wave that Godard integrated into this film was the seemingly constant hand-held camera action, pan shots and tracking shots. It seemed like the camera was never put down or taken off the shoulder. My favorite example a tracking shot was when Patricia was walking out of her meeting with a newspaper editor of some sort and the camera followed them all the way out as it tracked behind them, and then the camera picked up Michel, who was spying on them, without missing a beat. It is then Michel’s turn to walk towards the camera as it tracks backwards. My favorite pan was when Michel shot the man and was running through the field. The camera itself did not move, but it panned left and followed Michel as he was fleeing the scene.
      Another mechanism I enjoyed was the casual humor. The best was during the 25 minute scene where Michel and Patricia are just talking and laying and kissing in her room and every time Michel touched her butt she would slap him pretty hard. Although a slap is not very subtle or casual, Michel’s hand motion to grab her ass is spot-on casual. Michel is hilarious throughout this entire film with how damn horny he always is. Another example of this was when Michel sees some hitchhikers as he is driving alone in the opening scene and says, “I’ll charge a kiss a mile,” and then follows it up with “oh, hell they are both dogs,” as he approached closer to the two female hitchhikers. I thought this was again some pretty funny casual humor.
      Reading other classmate’s replies, everyone is obviously talking about the jump-cut probably because it is the most famous mechanism in this film. My favorite jump-cut, however, and no one has mentioned it yet was when Michel and Patricia are riding in one of his stolen cars and Michel just goes on a complimenting rant. “I like your hair, I like your cheeks, I like your shoulders, I like your wrists…” and he goes on and on. Every time Michel would tell her that another body part of her’s is beautiful, the camera would perform a jump-cut.
      There are many more French New Wave tools used by Godard in “Breathless” such as the constant shooting on location, and also the way that the characters acknowledged the audience and looked into the camera. I loved the ending, even though I had no idea what it meant, when Patricia looked at the camera and asked what “puke” means. She’s gorgeous. The end.

  • Ross Jurek

    Breathless would have been an interesting film without the experimentation involved, but with it, it sets itself to be a pioneering effort. Anyone who is willing to challenge something as set in its ways as film is deserving of respect, to be successful as well as innovative makes the film a legend. I found that the jump cuts in the film as well as the actors looking into the camera, while making me aware I was watching a film, made me focus more on the dialogue. It was the unexpectedness of the jumps and looking straight at me that made these very long shots and long somewhat pointless conversations interesting; had a normal film attempted to make me sit through twenty five minutes of one meandering conversation that seemingly goes nowhere I would have tuned out till action took place, but the experimental nature of it kept me refocusing. The main conflict itself almost seemed irrelevant to the director, throughout I felt myself almost forgetting he is being chased due to the completely melodramatic and slow pace the cops seemed to be chasing Michel and only a few times during the movie does the director remind you that there is a massive man hunt for the murderer. The story itself was more about a weird, stupid, very stupid love story between Michel and Patrice.

  • Abraham P

    This film is very influential in that a few modern films I have watched most notable Quentin Tarantino films you can see how much Godard has influenced Tarantino’s style. Throughout the film Michel and Patricia are having dialogue that does not help progress the plot but enhance the film itself. Tarantino does this a lot with his films that he has directed ranging from his first film Reservoir Dogs to his recently released film such as Django Unchained as well as films he has either wrote a script/produced for such as From Dusk Till Dawn and True Romance. As you stated Godard was influenced by Italian Neorealism in that the film was entirely shot on location, loose narrative structure in that the film does not simply follow Michel around Paris evading the police but also Patricia in her journey to become a better aristocrat. This film presents French New Wave in that their is plenty of casual humor in the film along with many references to other films such as Michel looking at a poster of Humphrey Bogart and reenacting his lip movement and gestures. They also break the fourth wall quite a lot when Michel talks straight into the camera and speaking to the audience. Throughout the film there are many tracking shots, panning, and hand held camera movements such as when Michel is driving away and you can tell the camera man was doing it on purpose. Godard is famous for his innovative use of jump cut in which a cut between 2 shots of the same subject without a change in the camera angle was crazy. I could see why a few people would not like seeing this type of technique but I liked it and how it helped the film with it’s casual humor for example when Michel is repeatedly yelling at the taxi driver was genius! When Michel is shot in the end and is running away Godard is making fun of the gangster genre in which there is a long shoot out/run sequence in the end and with the way Michel was running you can tell Godard wanted to poke fun of that genre. In conclusion this film was great and innovative with new techniques and with great actors who played Michel and Patricia you can tell this film would jump cut straight into the French New Wave genre.

  • Mike Janczak

    After watching “Breathless”, I couldn’t help but note the similarities it shared with film noir. It was similar to noir all while being completely different in a significant amount of ways. While “Breathless” lacks just about every single convention of any film noir film like having voice-over narration or low-key lighting, I was still reminded of noir. It wasn’t the police shoot out early on or the occasional fedora appearance, it was looking back on the film as a whole. After watching “Dead Reckoning” it’s clear that even those behind the film itself are unsure to the outcome of each character. However, despite the convoluted plotline, one thing is for sure. It’s the fact that the movie succeeded due to its style and presentation, the plot doesn’t really matter too much at all. It’s the same exact case in “Breathless” except for the fact Godard essentially points it out directly.
    The police are clearly hunting for Michel and tension should certainly be rising but Godard makes it a point to just stop everything flat. If the film’s plotline was the most important factor, then Godard probably wouldn’t have included that hotel scene. However, he did and the jump-cuts throughout that scene help remind you you’re watching a film. If the plot mattered there definitely would have been more emphasis on other scenes or action. The only reason one would want to remind you you’re watching a film especially at that particular part is to call attention to the very fact you’re watching a film. That was arguably the most enjoyable part of the film and it was simply talking in a hotel room. There’s a moment when you see a jump-cut then and realize you’re just watching two people talk in a hotel room. That self-reflexivity that you mention, Mr. Smith, is likely the most powerful thing anyone can take from the film. Jean-Paul Sartre seemed to notice the fact as well, and being a philosopher it only leads me to connect the film to life itself. It makes me even think back to that class period we had when we discussed the inevitability of death. Death could come at any given moment and any time you see someone could be the last time. Death could very well be the punishment Michele receives as a result of committing murder himself. If the police represent death in some way, Michel barely tries to avoid it. When they’re basically sweeping the town for him, he’s just in the hotel room with Patricia enjoying his time with her. I think that alone speaks volumes about how Godard thinks you should spend your time. When the jaws of death come closer and closer to someone, you could very well try and flee and do everything in your power to avoid it. But, that time spent in the hotel room was perhaps the most enjoyable portion of the film for both the characters and the viewer. Michele just bides his time enjoying every second instead of trying to escape the problems that overwhelm him. Even in the end when Patricia tells Michel the police are on their way, he doesn’t run, but instead asks why… Michel seemed to enjoy his life even down to his literal last breath, full of cigarette smoke. Godard was likely trying to ask ‘Why spend all this time trying to escape an inevitable demise while all along it’s the special person in your life that really makes you “Breathless”?

  • Lia Rivera

    Watching “Breathless” was very different from other films I have watched, especially because of the jump-cuts. As much as people discussed in class that they noticed all of the film movement was by hand, I honestly didn’t even realize the camera movement by hand after a while. But because of this, it made the film more realistic and not so structured to watch, which I’d say was enjoyable. “Breathless” wasn’t like the typical gangster movie we may watch now a days. There was a lot of day time in this film, in a typical gangster movie I would imagine night and darkness. It was a little confusing to understand if Patricia and Michael really liked each other or not. Although, it was obvious there was sexual attraction and flirting going on. There was just know definite truth whether they loved each other. The plot itself made it difficult to know what would happen next. When Patricia said she was pregnant, that really threw me off. At the end it was never talked about between them, so this left me thinking, was she even pregnant? It was kinda crazy to see someone smoking as much as Michael did and it was funny that he took one last puff before he past. When Michael was shot at the end of the film, it was interesting that he ran for as long as he did. What caught my attention was how Patricia wasn’t as upset as she should have been after his death or when he was shot.This leaves me confused on how she really feels. Overall, I did enjoy watching “Breathless” because it was unconventional and nothing like I have seen in the past.

  • Sarah Brooks

    I wasn’t really sure what to expect when we started talking about the French New Wave in class because all of the conventions that we talked about. I thought the hand held style of filming a scene would come off as unrealistic and not let me connect with what’s going on and feel like ‘m not just watching a movie. However, I really enjoyed the hand held shots in this film. It didn’t come off cheesy or poorly made to me at all, it was sort of unique and something you’re not used to seeing unless it’s in some typical “found footage” Paranormal Activity movie. I also really did enjoy the jump cuts even though some people found them annoying. In the beginning it really did take some getting used to the film, but once it progressed, I honestly think that the jump cut’s worked to its advantage. When Michele and Patricia are sitting in the taxi cab I thought it was hilarious when Goddard kept on jumping to when Michele said something because it always ended up being funny. This film really had so much about it that I didn’t expect to like but in the end genuinely caught my interest. I love how it sort of mock the way that American gangster films are made and how Humphrey Bogart was Michele’s hero and you could catch him mimicking things that he used to do throughout the movie. I lost count how many times Michele moves his thumb across his lips which was apparently a nervous habit of Humphrey Bogart. My absolute favorite scene of this entire film without a doubt had to be the final scene. When Michele get’s shot in the back and tries to run down the street, it took a lot longer than I expected for him to fall to the ground and die which made it so hilarious. Gangster films usually tend to do that like in the Godfather when of the Corleone’s get’s shot at the toll booth hundreds of times and he’s still able to walk and have a two minute extremely dramatic death scene. I think that Michele had one of the best “last lines” I have ever heard. Patricia and Michele have one of the weirdest relationships i’ve seen in a film before because I still couldn’t tell you if they actually did love each other. Especially when he said that she makes him want to vomit right before he dies and she rats him out to the police out of nowhere. I really did love the scene between the two of them in the hotel room because you never get to see characters like that, just having a normal conversation. I would really like to get to see that in more movies nowadays, I mean connecting with the characters is important to a lot of audiences and seeing them on just a normal day is a nice change of pace because it makes them more human. Breathless was probably the most unique film i’ve seen when it comes to different kinds of shots and characters, and I will definitely be watching this again.

    • michaelgloversmith

      If seeing people have a “normal conversation” is something you want to see in more movies, you should definitely consider taking my Perspectives on Film class in the spring. The first half will be devoted to studying the French New Wave and the second half will be devoted to studying American films influenced by the New Wave.

  • Kevin Yoo

    Watching “Breathless” was one of the most unusual films I have ever watched but rather than it being weird and boring it was quite interesting. I love Michel’c character because it is like he is stuck in this random era where most people do not understand his jokes or his witty comments. The hand held shot were the best part of this film as if you were seeing through the character’s point of view of just a third person party watching next to them. One of the great examples of French New Wave that i particularly enjoyed was when Michel first steals the car in the beginning and heads for the road. He talks to the camera realizing that a film is being shot and is very witty and cocky with his comments. I think that this helps with the plot of the film and how French New Wave incorporates techniques and ideas. The one thing that i really enjoyed about this film was Michel’s unawareness of consequences. He seemed like life was free and death was not upon him no matter what he did. Michel steals money from people, cars , and murders but goes about life like it was just another normal day. The last scene is really odd because after Michel is shot it takes a long time for the film to conclude that he dies. I believe that this was a great way of expressing an idea by Goddard because it shows the humor that he has as Michel carelessly stumbles to his death. overall I thought Breathless was a good film with great hand held movement and character portrayal.

  • Paul Chiero

    Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless was first produced in the year 1960. The style of filmmaking he used along with his “master cinematographer” Raoul Coutard made Breathless a very interesting film to watch for a variety of reasons. First of all, I say “master cinematographer” sarcastically because nowadays basically anyone could capture the same shots equally as well, if not better, thanks to the introduction of filmmaking to young people across the world via television and the relatively new revolutionizing website known as YouTube and an amazing advancement in video cameras that most of us walk around with in our pockets. I liked the free hand style of filming on scene just like they did with the movie “Bicycle Thieves”. However, I found the jump-cut to be more annoying than anything else. I know it is done on purpose to keep the audiences attention but if the story was good enough in the first place they would not need to use any “special” techniques. In my opinion, the only good thing that came out of the “jump-cut” style of the movie is that it made the whole thing shorter. I guess it is the critic or the American in me that caused me not to enjoy this movie as much as my fellow classmates but I can see where they are coming from. The dialogue they use in some scenes including the super long hotel scene reminded me of a modern day Vince Vaughn movie because he can just go on rants about anything, regardless of what is happening concerning the plot of the movie, and people will love it just because a wide range of people have grown accustomed to Vaughn’s style of comedic dialogue. Seeing an old school movie like Breathless break the fourth wall was probably one of the more interesting things about this movie along with watching Michel trying to be (or even possibly mocking?) an American Gangster. Breaking the fourth wall reminds me of shows like The Office and Malcolm in the Middle when the main character sort of “steps out” of scene and addresses the audience directly. Reading blurry subtitles while following the jump-cut style action of Breathless is just a headache waiting to happen for anyone used to watching modern movies but could also be a nice little cinematic adventure back in time for anyone who is into old foreign films.

    “To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”
    ― Aristotle

    • michaelgloversmith

      Well, the blurry subtitles were a failing of the school’s projection system, not the filmmakers. But I would argue that your inability to appreciate the film’s still-radical innovations represents a failure of imagination on your part. Don’t presume that your own opinions on BREATHLESS are in line with “anyone used to watching modern movies.” Most of your classmates, none of whom are into “old foreign films” really enjoyed this.

  • Matthew Maka

    The movie breathless explains the movie itself in the title. The main character Michel is always breathless, though out the movie he is looking for his price Patricia. He is also running from the police because in the being of the movie he kills one so he doesn’t get caught for grand thief auto. I really enjoyed this movie because it takes you on a journey of a thief of cars, cash, and of course a one of a kind ladies man. This movie was a part of the French New wave but i though it was a little similar to the film noir era. The reason i assumed this was all the action, darkness, and smoking. The smoking was nonstop, Michel was lighting a cigarette every second. He would light one with the one he finishs. Also in this movie there is a auteur theory that i believe Michel goes by, which is the poster he looks at. Michel believes he is a hard core gangster. Besides the plot of the movie being excellent, also the editing was done well. I really enjoyed the hand held shots because you fell that you are running right behind that person in the shot. It almost fells as if I was in the movie and filming a documentary of Michel’s day and life. I really enjoyed this style and i fell clover filed a modern day movie copied the idea form breathless. I also really like the use of jump cuts in this movie. The reason is that it would cut to the important things. For example when they were in the cab and Michel is tell the cabby how to drive. The since skip for different location of Paris and Michel making another rude comment. I though all the jump cuts followed with the scenes and make the movie better because it would basically cut out the boring long cab ride and other dialogue. Breathless was a great movie to watch and i recommend it too all. I love all the editing that the film makers did like the jump cuts, the beautiful filming of on spot location, and my favorite was the causal humor. The most funny causal humor was when Michel takes his last breath on earth after he gets shot, he blow out cigarettes smoke and says Patricia you make want to puke. this by far make the film for me and was one of the funniest scene throughout the film.

  • Krystian Swierk

    Breathless definitely stands out from all of the movies that we have watched in this class. There is no doubt that the style is experimental and innovative. The free style of filming captured unedited streets of Paris filled with unaware people of being recorded. It sometimes felt as watching a documentary of MTV series which could be called “Paris Shore”. Main character resembled all of the aspect of wild, and rapid lifestyle which would fit perfectly.
    The aspect of jump-cuts at first got me confused. It felt awkward watching a scene and seeing a shot which did not fit in there by all means. For example: scene where Michael was sitting in the car with the mechanic and the next shot showed him in driver’s seat without other character. It got me super confused. However, as the movie went on I adapted to this new change. It also made me think how much work is involved into smooth transitions between the shots, so audience would not be “aware” they are watching a movie.
    Making fun of Hollywood films especially at the end created an unexpected twist. In one of the last scenes where Michael is expecting the police and is betrayed by Patricia he doesn’t run. Instead he justifies the need of rest, and end of constant running. As the action moved from the apartment to streets of Paris, it was expected by audience to see the run away; yet, it didn’t happen. All we saw was a hysterical (at least for me) death of Michael. As soon as he picked up the gun, he got shot and ran/walked of a style of drunk marathoner. Audience would not see this in any of Hollywood movies. Also, where he breaths out the last words to Patricia “You make me want to puke” and closes the eyes with HIS OWN HANDS! I found this scene extremely funny.

  • pazmino776

    Great blog! I really liked how you described in great detail in how Godard purposely made the film the way he did because of meaning behind. To what the normal movie viewer would see as mistakes, you saw and studied the bigger picture and meaning behind these seemingly accidental hiccups in the film, but actually were put there on puspose. Your blog makes me want to go back and see all the movies that have these kinds of tendencies in many films that I have watched in the pas and all the self-reflexivity films that many modern film directors have adopted. See you in class!

  • Marta Reitmajer

    I think the reason why the movie Breathless is so influential was because Jean-Luc Godard decided to break the rules of traditional cinema with the jump-cuts, self-reflexivity, and the use of a handheld camera. We see it quite a lot nowadays, but back in the 1950’s it was revolutionary and Godard started it all. The movie isn’t just about the plot, it’s more about the innovative cinematography that’s why we watched and learned about this film in our film class because, after all, it’s part of the history of cinema.
    Personally, I loved the movie because it was French and I’m fascinated with everything that’s French, including the language, which just sounds so sophisticated. Seeing the streets of Paris the way they really were in the 1950’s with real people strutting around in their chic and glamorous outfits and seeing all the cafes was fascinating. Like you mentioned, shooting the movie Breathless on location gave the film that documentary value, which is why it’s such a great movie because we can all learn a little history about France in the 1950’s.

  • Mary Amala

    Jean-Luc Godard made the movie Breathless a very unique movie in his own way by using the hand held camera movements, jump-cuts and self reflexivity. Right now we see these in plenty of movies, but back then it must have made a huge impact in the film industry. When i thought the movie is based on a gangster who steals the cars, i was thinking of a more serious film with little humor. But throughout this movie made me laugh. Especially at the end when he is about to die and he is still smoking. I have never seen such a hilarious ending before. I also loved how Paris was captured in this movie in 1960. Paris looked absolutely beautiful with all the people around and the stores. I really loved the main characters, but i never thought that Patricia would leave Michel at the end even though she knows that she is pregnant with his kid. I also didn’t understand the part where Michel do a smile, big mouth and frown. I absolutely loved this film with all its new techniques.

  • ryan goese

    You can tell that this movie was made by a young director who wanted to leave his mark on the industry. Godard broke the rules, and he broke them hard. In fact, he broke them too hard in my opinion. For example, let’s take the jump-cuts. After hearing Mr. Smith’s explanation that his jump-cuts are a sort of fast-forward-to-the-important-part type thing, rather than to just visually dissonate the viewer. But for me, that is exactly what happened. My brain rejected the jump cuts and I found myself shaking my head every time there was one.
    There were lots of ambiguous shots that didn’t do anything for the plot and were never addressed again. My favorite example of this is when Michel is wearing sunglasses lying down. The camera shows his face, and then the next time the camera shows his face (it is only for a split-second) he is missing one lens on his sunglasses. In the next shot of him with the sunglasses, the lens was there and we were left with absolutely no explanation. I like these ambiguous shots, the kept me on my toes.
    Though some may find Michel madly in love with Patricia, it seemed to me that she was just his American girl there for his use and disposal at will. Unfortunately for Michel, he ended up being the one that got disposed of by her. Although they talk about being in love, for some reason I can’t get past the way Michel uses her (to steal the Cadillac and such) and how easily Patricia gives him up. I think it was a relationship built on infatuation, and once they were living each other’s daily lives it became too much and they both got selfish.

    • michaelgloversmith

      I think Godard DID want to “visually dissonate” the viewer, as you say. Although I guess in a way it’s good that someone breaking the rules of classical editing in 1960 can cause viewers as much discomfort today as when the film first came out.

  • Taha Husain

    Watching Breathless was a real eye opener to understand cinema from an all new perspective. Jean Luc- Godard directed it. Godard directed a movie that was the most unique for its time. He used conventions and techniques that made Breathless planted in our memories for the long haul.
    One of the techniques he used among several others was Jump Cuts. Although at first the technique was a bit abrupt and absurd, it helped speed up the movie and make it a lot more enjoyable to me. My favorite Jump Cut from the movie is when they’re in the cab and Michel is yelling a the driver for not driving fast enough and letting others past by him. This was very comedic in itself. Jump Cuts quite often allowed and added comedic flare to the movie.
    In addition, I agree with your point that by juxtaposing real life elements and movie elements together reflects his playful and intellectually provocative spirit of director Godard. I believe the juxtaposition, also helps audience connect to the movie on a more personal level than it would with most other movies. For me, it allowed me at several occasions feel empathy for Michel because I could relate to his emotions. An example of this is when at the end when Michel says he doesn’t want to run anymore and give up. I could connect because of situations in which I have felt like running away, but realizing that running away from the problem isn’t help me achieve anything.
    I agree with you also in regards to the fact that it is a movie that is an exemplary for introducing one to a new film medium, and making them fall in love with it. Breathless is a great movie as a whole, it has made me intrigued to watch more French New Wave movies and fall in love with unconventional techniques and conventions.

  • Tommy Davis

    I thought “Breathless” was a very enjoyable movie that had hidden beauty within the frames. Jean- Paul Belmondo who played Michel Poiccard in the film was the perfect person for the part. Something about his facial features and the faces he made during the film will make me never forget his face or character He was also chain smoking cigarettes the entire movie, I believe he is smoking all the time because he is very nervous that police are going to catch him and the smoke is visually stunning with the black and white film. Michel wants to be as tough as the badass movie stars he has seen on the big screen, so he dresses the part and acts like a criminal with no thought of the consequences.

    The director of the film “Jean-Luc” Godard used many filming technics to disturbed audiences when this film came out. He used a lot of jump cuts in his film that audiences thought was sloppy during the time, but we now realize that Godard did it on purpose to try and cut out dead time throughout the film. My favorite jump-cut scene is when Michel and his American girlfriend “Patricia” are riding in a taxi, and Michel is bitching and complaining about the old man taxi drivers driving skills. It jumps from insult to Michel telling him what to do in a very humorous matter, I believed it worked best in that situation because their is no point to showing a whole cab ride from one destination to another. Godard does a great job turing a normal taxi ride into a very comical and historic scene.

  • Maria Avina

    Breathless is a unique film in which it portrayed great tracking shots, handheld camera movements, casual humor and self-reflexivity. I loved how the film had causal humor incorporated within the film. For example, every time Michel slapped or grabbed Patricia’s ass, Patricia would slap him on the face. This scene was funny and great because words or dialogues weren’t needed to be said in order for the scene to be funny. Also, I thought the scene where Michel got shot and fell to the ground until he had reached the end of the road was funny. Usually when people get shot they fall to the ground right away, but in his case it took him forever. I found the jumping shots to be quite annoying. Although the jump shots did remind me that I was watching a film, the jump shots ruined my concentration on what was going on in the film. I would have preferred if Godard would have left out the jump shots. I enjoyed the hand held camera that Godard had incorporated in the film. It was something different and unique to look at. The handheld camera movements made me feel as if I was part of the film. I loved Michel’s acting. From the way he walked to the sound of voice in the film. Overall, I liked the plot of the movie and its self-reflexivity. However, I wished the jump cuts would have been avoided.

  • syed ahmed

    breathless is a great film because of how the director did not traditionally film tactics. the director had the actors sometimes actually speak toward the camera that made it seem as if they were speaking directly to the audience. The film also is great because of all the comedic action involving the main character Michel, stealing money from people in bathrooms and also stealing cars in broad daylight.

  • Omair Syed

    After watching “Breathless” by Jean Luc Goddard. it was a very unique and interesting film as to how it was shown in its entirety. While watching this film, and referring to what we had talked about in class, this film is very different from the other films we have watched thus far. It was interesting to see how this film kinda used a wide compilation of techniques of filmmaking such as certain camera movement, lighting and the inclusion of humor. One of the thing as I had watched this film was the way the film was made using certain editing techniques such as jump-cuts. In most of the movie, this was used, but one scene that made this edit stand out the most was the part to me was right out the gates in the beginning when Michel was kinda playing with his pistol in the car and was escaping the police. At times like we had discussed in class, the jump-cuts happened so fast, it kind of makes you think how or what just happened in that sequence of events within the shot. Another thing that I found unique to this particular film was the way certain camera techniques were used in this film. Techniques such as tracking shots, when Michel was driving away from the police at the beginning of the film, as well as handheld camera movements such as when Patricia and Michel were in the cab trying to get to a destination. The variety of the use of camera movement made it interesting to watch and try to follow what was actually going on in the film. The use of location shooting for most of the film really set the tone of a real atmosphere, and kind of sucked you into the movie as a member of the audience. For me, as I watched the film, it was at times a bit blurry to see where the plot was heading, such as what Michel had done in the beginning and why he was evading the authorities and hiding his identity, but it made sense as the film went on. Also, the causal humor within the film such as the slaps to the face Michel gets from Patricia was apparent all throughout the film as light jokes or sayings that would be thrown around all throughout amongst the characters. The French New wave really set the tone of how future movies would be seen with incorporating such conventions within one film such as jump cuts, variety of certain camera movements, and the inclusions of natural lighting all made it unique to watch and is a great illustration as to why this is such a great original film in the history of cinema.

  • Muzammil Muztar

    I found Jean Luc Godard’s film, Breathless, to be a quite interesting film. Although it was a gangster movie, it did not inherit many of the qualities of a gangster movie such as a great heist and multiple shootouts. Although Breathless has Michel stealing cars and hiding from the police, the film seemed to focus more on the rebellious and love struggle between two teenagers. As for the film techniques, the film was never shot in a studio, rather the whole film was shot in locations throughout Paris. Also, there is a lot of camera movement, especially handheld camera movement. Having much of the film shot with handheld camera movement really makes the audience feel like they are actually with Michel and Patricia, walking down the streets of Paris. It adds to the realism. Another interesting aspect of Breathless and the French New Wave in general is that it is almost always shot in natural light. One of the best examples of use of natural light is when Michel and Patricia are sitting in their hotel room in the afternoon, smoking cigarettes and talking. With Breathless being shot on location and using natural light, I can see how Professor Smith can compare this to the Italian Neorealism movement. I would even argue that the use of natural light, handheld camera shots, and the film being completely shot one-hundred percent on location makes it even more realistic than some of the films produced during the Italian Neorealism era. Another interesting quality of Godard’s Breathless is its self-reflexivity. Godard breaks the 4th wall with the memorable scene when Michel is driving the stolen car in the countryside in the beginning of the film. This film technique is somewhat common present day, especially with the release of films like Deadpool. Back to the cinematography of Breathless, there are a lot of jump cuts. The drastic number of jump cuts makes the film’s title appropriate, because these cuts just add to the fast pace of the film and the lives of Patricia and Michel. Also, the casual humor of Breathless gives you some good laughs, especially in the hotel room whenever Patricia smacked Michel for trying to get under her skirt, not to mention the scene when Michel deliberately stops the taxi just so he can run out and lift a woman’s skirt up. In the end, Breathless is as much of a gangster film as it is about adolescent love. Michel and Patricia are not able to express their feelings for each other because they themselves do not know how they feel about each other. All in all, although the film does not have a huge plot (just check Breathless’s plot summary on Wikipedia), the film has a lot to say about life. Michel does not have a plan. Instead, he has a “go with the flow” attitude. After all, we ourselves cannot create a plan for everything that life throws our way, rather we sometimes need to improvise or think on the spot. Breathless is a unique film, and I definitely have not watched any other film that even slightly resembles it, which is why it left such a huge mark on cinematic history.

  • Odi Abraham

    The film Breathless exemplifies new wave cinema first by shooting on location using natural sound and light. Also the use of hand-held cameras made it easier to shoot on location like the streets and cafes. Also the protagonist wasn’t really a good guy or hero like how Jean-Luc Godard is a gangster. The editing featured jump cuts that was more free and different than the narrative continuity we are used to seeing.

  • Tyler Flaningam

    One of the more interesting parts of the plot of Breathless is Michel’s live for the day nature. He doesn’t know where he’s going to sleep each night, what he’s going to do, where he’s going to get money for food and travel. He’s only constant thoughts are getting his money from Antonio and trying to get Patricia to go to Italy with him. He puts no thought into killing the cop, stalking Patricia, breaking into lovers’ apartments. Given his manic nature, the question arises and early on Patricia even asks him, what they’ll do when they get to Italy. It is tough to tell to if he craves a new environment of experiences to fly through or if he wants to take all distractions from Patricia in trying to fall in love with him. The carefree nature of both main characters seems to be pretty typical of young people in Paris at the time. His comments about many lovers and wanting to sleep with her seem to be very stereotypical of young French people. The upbeat nature of the characters is a similar realistic representation to that of neorealism even though the environment they are in is entirely different and produces a different mood. Michel’s carefree, manic nature seems to be the extreme of common qualities of a young person in France at the time. It is also interesting to see how this character interacts with an extreme form of the American abroad student in Paris, who is trying to figure her life out even though her adult life has barely started. Their relationship is very bizarre not because they are opposite personalities but because Michel is seemingly deadest in his ways and Patricia while a very different character wise in the film is still very unsure of what her personality is.

  • Sebastian Pieczka

    Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960) is a French New Wave drama film about a criminal that is on the run with his American girlfriend. It includes a daring visual style and an atypical use of jump-cuts. I agree with the sentiment that the telling of the story is not familiar and that the film juxtaposes “movie” elements with “real life” ones. It was interesting to see how Godard added a 25-minute real-time sequence; this sequence contrasted with the rest of the film and added a sense of realism. The use of extensive tracking shots, natural lighting, and a handheld camera were also very interesting. These elements added to the overall end-result, making the viewing experience unique. Self-reflexivity is also very prominent in the movie. I agree that the distancing devices that were mentioned do a great job of reminding the audience that they are watching a film, such as the breaking of the fourth wall and the dissolution of the line between character and actor. Overall, I enjoyed reading your analysis of Breathless. You reveal many of the qualities that make the film unique and interesting. In my opinion, Godard did a great job with the movie, and it is a film that many would find entertaining to watch. From the extensive use of jump-cuts to the use of natural lighting and self-reflexivity, it is no surprise that it brought acclaim to the style of French New Wave and is admired by many critics today.

  • Nikkole Gomez

    Watching this film took me for a loop at first with all the jump cuts and camera angles. However it did remind me of a screwball comedy at times. It also rememinded me of an earlier film we watched called “bringing up baby” where the two main characters were constantly fighting with one another. This happened a bit in “Breathless” too with the main characters michel and Patricia. Although Michel was the one being quite rude and mean to Patricia she too would slap him and he would question why. Those moments of the film seemed a bit similar in the ways of “Bringing up Baby’. I also loved how the director chose to do whatever the hell he wanted on his film and treat it like no other.

  • Kelsey Siegel

    This film was nothing like I had ever seen before. I was a bit apprehensive due to the fact that it was in French, and unfortunately and I’m not very good at reading and watching the film while still understanding the plot. This movie however, made me watch it a new way. The way the Michel gives evidence that he is in a movie, and breaks the fourth wall forced me to open my eyes and pay attention to every detail I could. His character reminded me slighting of the bicycle thief and how they were both all or nothing characters. Michel, after killing the cop, is still living his life, and does not seem too bothered at the fact that the French police are on his tail. Patricia, his American love interest is the star of this film to me. The way that she tries to prove she does not love him just shows how hard she’ll work for him. She is on the run with him for the majority of the movie but the final act of Patricia telling the police about Michel just shows how much she is fighting her feeling, but still runs after him once he is shot. Overall this film was electrifying , even in french.

  • Grace Kalkowski

    The film Breathless, directed by Jean-Luc Godard, was a very eye-opening film to watch. I thought it was very different seeing the jump-cuts in scenes of Michel bringing Patricia to her meeting and the end taxi scene. It brought some sort of personality out of the film and helped keep the viewers attention. In the scene of Patricia’s hotel room, Michel and her were talking about whatever came to mind and the jump-cuts seemed to have that kind of personality of doing whatever comes to mind and not being a steady stream of consciousness. Overall, I liked the film and was very interested in the plot and the relationship between Michel and Patricia.

  • Pathik Patel

    After watching Breathless by Jean-Luc Godard, i thought this movie was unique. The reason behind is that before this movie there was no use of jump-cuts or handheld camera. Jump-cuts were throughout the movie, but for me when Michel got shot he was holding a bag full of money and the next shot his hands were free and he had one hand at the gunshot. I thought that was great. Another was the handheld when Michel and Patricia were driving to Patricia’s interview place and the camera was focused on Patricia when she was checking her face in the tiny mirror. I really like that the whole movie was shot outside and the use of natural light was amazing. Location shooting makes the audience feel like they are there because of how the movie shows everyday life.

  • Stephanie Rubeo

    Before watching Breathless, I was excited to see this film. I like that some movies end in a more ambiguous tone, giving you a lot to think about and to go over, so that you can really try to interpret and understand the film. I really liked the realism in this movie. Instead of making the characters these glorified hero type gangsters like so many Hollywood movies do, Jean-Luc Godard went with an approach that made them seem and act just like any other person. They each had their own issues and they were explained throughout the film to really capture the identity of a real person. One part that really struck me was during the beginning of the film when Michel had stolen a car and while driving down the street, he was commenting on how the other drivers on the road were driving. This stuck out to me because I find myself doing the same thing while driving. The use of jump cuts throughout the movie gave the film more of a lightweight feel. Although it was a little choppy you could still tell what was going on in the scene, and I thought it was a cool type of technique to move the film along. Breathless was an interesting take on a gangster love story, that was fun to watch.

  • Alex kolarz

    This movie shows us how the different ways of French people using different ways on location shooting a lady such as where in breathless they shoot love scenes where there are ordinary people real people with activities showing each scene where Michel and Patricia are using their characters with people in France. Breathless also uses many camera movements such as pain shots and handheld camera movements with casual humor and refers to other films. In this movie, there is self-reflexivity such as jump-cutting where one shot is edited and how it uses the scene where that it shows that something is missing. I loved Throughout this movie and there is a type of editing where we have seen in German expressionism and how each is seeing between breathless this type of editing is Iris. It shows it gives the viewer were to look at that received is so sore, but we see it time and time again in this movie and another earlier films, so that is where Jean Luc shows us a type of reference to other films that were very important earlier in the 1900s. the movie show us how Jean-Luc could give us a new type of way in the future searches from the 1960s and threw out later on films. Also Hollywood uses these types of jump cuts because Jean-Luc from “Breathless” so inspired them because it gives a nuisance of intensity for the movie. In conclusion I was really happy what Jean Luc did with this film with the location shots and older types of editing in this film.


    From the self-reflexive scene with Michel telling us to “get stuffed” to every single handheld shot, I feel a sort purpose to this filmmaking style. This style, that confused me at first, puts me into a position where I seem to watch a memory that never happened play out. Every staggering jump cut acting like gaps in the unreliable memory of the silent 3rd person. A person that has no name or face but may probably just be you. This feeling gets even more effective with the entire movie taking place on location with the passerbyers not being extras. It even seems to entertain me with the fact that the 3rd person watched 2 people argue for 20 minutes about sleeping with each other or that this person went on this absolutely absurd adventure with a rude car thief. My discovery of the French new wave brought these new interesting feelings into my perspective which not many movies that I saw accomplished.

  • Jake Glass

    I felt that this film was very confusing because it is at first a police chase and then switches to Michel and Patricia romantic love life to chase again with it all seeming very nonchalant. As you pointed out in your article, the tracking shots and the natural lights made the film feel more real. The jump cuts in the film made it move quickly. The lighting which was natural made me feel like I was there. The scenes by night felt authentic because you could see the shops lit up. French New Wave is like Italian Neorealism because both are filmed on location. Both genres take place outdoors. They differed in the fact that one was in color and one was in black and white. Breathless used real actors whereas Italian Neorealism films used real people. I liked the film Breathless by Godard because It felt like an action film.

  • Kristi Grunditz

    You said, “Breathless is an upbeat and joyous celebration of life”. In this sense, I think it is kind of like Man with a Movie Camera. Similar to the Dziga Vertov film, Breathless is a joyous celebration of life in a city, especially with all of the scenes filmed on location and with everyday Parisians. And though the two main characters are not your average citizens, they blend in with the swirl of the world around them. I liked your (and Godard’s) comparison to Italian Neorealist films. Those were about showing the real lives and experiences of people in 1940’s Italy, which weren’t always fairytales. The viewer is able to see a crooked, fictional “fairytale” unfold, but mixed in with a real 1950’s Paris atmosphere.
    Something that made me think of the fairytale part was in a part of the film when Patricia says she wants to be like Romeo and Juliet with Michel. (Side note: only “Romeo” died in the end of the movie.)

    I don’t know a lot about the French New Wave movement, nor do I have much experience with distinguishing styles of filmmaking, but I can see why the visionaries believed the director is the true author of the film. I don’t fully understand what you call the “subtle ways that Godard dissolves the line between character and performer” that ended up making “a documentary about the actors.” But I think Jean-Luc Godard did well on illustrating a story by the New Wave guidelines.

  • Afsheen Syeda

    Godard’s “Breathless” really does seem very modern as you mentioned, there are a lot of realistic aspects that are included in the film. An example of this is when Michel is being a pervert with his girlfriend, consistently trying to get his way with her, them making funny faces at each other and the mirror, and just the mediocrity of their relationship which is kind of cute too in a way.

  • Belle Maintsogt

    In the film Breathless, Goddard uses hand held camera movements which makes the audience feel like they’re also in the movie. Also, Goddard does this by having Michel in the beginning of the movie talk directly to the camera. This made the audience feels as if they were Michel and Patricia’s friend. The jump cuts in the movie was very confusing at first. It really felt like the film makers had made a mistake while editing. However, it makes the conversation in the car seem a lot more natural and authentic. It helps the audience understand that time is going by even if the characters in the movie aren’t talking or doing anything. Breathless was shot in real locations due to the low budget however, I think it added a great element to the film. It was another way to remind the audience that they’re watching a movie. You can tell in some scenes that some people who aren’t actors are noticing the camera which makes the audience more aware of the surroundings. Overall, Breathless was an interesting film with many great elements you don’t see in a regular Hollywood films.

  • Alvin Varghese

    Breathless introduced a new type of film making that doesn’t really need to relative to the storyline. I was confused throughout the whole film, but paying attention to the film style it all made sense. Cuts gave this movie a dynamic most audience members haven’t seen. I paid close attention to those cuts and all it did was confuse me rather than fascinate me. In the film, Michel plays a wannabe gangster and a playboy. One scene, in particular, that portrays that was when they were in the bedroom while Michel tries to convince Patricia to have sex with him. The love story was odd yet satisfying because I was happy when Patricia let Michel die at the end. From an audience members perspective. Godard does a good job keeping us guessing yet entertained while doing it.

  • Christopher Dumitru

    I think this film was meant to be a little hard to follow. It was meant to be viewed with more of a focus on the uniqueness of the film itself than the actual storyline. The story seemed to be made to throw off the audience a little and have them think, “Wait, did that just happen? Where the hell are they right now?” Breaking the fourth wall also showed that Godard wasn’t afraid to break the rules of filmmaking and add his own flavor to the world of filmmaking/directing. Another aspect of the film that I actually thought was cool was the jump cuts. Everywhere I read in this thread relating to jump cuts went along the lines of “they were so annoying…” How? If anything they fast forward the plot a little and bring you to the next scene! They really weren’t confusing at all. They “cut to the chase” in order for us to get to the next important shot. I’ve seen this style of jump cuts in a show called “Californication” and honestly, it’s a pretty cool style of shooting. It kind of reminds you that you’re going to see the plot move forward and that the story isn’t stalling. It also adds that retro vibe the film was already going for.
    Overall, this was a fun movie to watch simply because it was about breaking rules. Not only were the characters breaking rules throughout the film; killing cops, smoking everywhere, stealing cars and money, etc. but so was the film’s director! Who else was breaking the norms of filmmaking during this time? Probably not a lot of people. It was a unique film for its time and probably inspired more directors to do what they want with a film, so long as it’s unique and adds to the final product.

  • Jazlyn C

    I enjoyed watching breathless. This being the third film I see from this film director it was not as great as the first film I saw which was contempt. Although this film does have some similarities with contempt and that’s with its characters. In this movie Michael’s personality is very charming. In contempt the main character actress Camille is also very charming with her personality. It kind of shows that both male and female use their charm for their own convenience.

  • Ross Vazquez

    I loved watching Breathless. It was a great cinematic experience, especially due to the performances and cinematography. The constant use of handheld camera shots allows the viewer to feel present in the film, which is contradicted with methods that take us out of the illusion. For instance, when Michel says “get stuffed” (or “go fuck yourself”) directly to the viewer. Another example is the sequences of jump-cuts. Seeing jump-cuts used like that for the first time was very jarring, as I was too often subject to the use of the camera for narrative, rather than for it’s own sake. I was reminded of the “The Story Of Film” series you showed us prior to the movie, where Mark Cousins said that Jean-Luc Godard was saying “I think this is beautiful.” That he would place a shot in the film because he believed it was excellent, that it belonged there not because it helped forward the narrative, but because it was beautiful on its own, was an amazing realization to me. It must have been amazing in 1960 as well. Even now, I don’t see many films do something like Breathless did. The other thing I thought was how parts of the film, even single lines, contributed to the meaning or interpretation of the movie. For instance, when Parvelescu said he believed there was no difference between love and eroticism, I believed that was Jean-Luc saying that the relationship between Michel and Patricia was still important, even if they were not truly in love. I also think he was speaking about the “eroticism” of the cinematic experience, that even if his jump-cuts did not contribute to Breathless in the conventional way a camera shot would, they are still beautiful on their own, important parts of the movie as a whole, and are representation of his love for cinema.

  • Diana Melnyk

    In the very beginning, I didn’t know how to feel about this particular film. because of the plot throwing me off in a sense. However, it almost felt like not only was the filming techniques off and breaking rules but, the characters as well. Killing people and stealing cars and money, Micheal was getting away with a lot of things that were obvious which was abnormal for our time today. Both Michael and his American girlfriend are both selfish therefore, they use each other to get to where they want to be. It was no surprise that Micheal was going to get turned in and what better way to do so if not his girlfriend that he trusted. It was comedic in some parts of the film, mostly directed towards Micheal when he spoke to himself or when he was trying to convince his girlfriend that all his wrongdoings were normal and that he wanted to bring her with and of course, all she could talk about was herself and what she enjoyed. The movie is somewhat relatable to do days era in the relationship aspect of things. All in all, I enjoyed watching this film and I even enjoyed the jump cuts, I think that is what kept me intrigued because I was looking for them throughout the movie.

  • Riley Mullens

    In the movie Breatheless by Godard, The main Character Michel is a bit of a criminal. he walks around town, tricks women into falling in love with them just so he can sleep with them. Before he leaves one of the girls apartments, Michel manages to steal money from the girl and then heads out to start the day. In the first clip of the film, I was confused as to why he was taking so long to start up his car. After a few seconds I later realized that he was trying to get a jump on the car because he was actually stealing it. I thought some of the jumpcuts in this film was actually very interesting. The way the camera guy hand filmed some of the shots it mad us viewers feel like we were really in the movie. I found it rather strange that Michel would treat all these women like garbage, yet they all still slept with him. It tells the viewer that guys who act like dickheads gets the girl. Which is obviously not true at all. Being rude to someone that you like is not the way to go.

  • Emily M

    I really enjoyed this film Breatheless by Godard, because the director chooses to do some unique techniques that you don’t see very often. My favorite thing about the film was that you really felt like you were in the film because of the camera movement and how it was held by hand instead of a tripod. Also the way the director goes back and forth with the characters reminding us that we are watching a film reminds me of another really great old film, called Haunted Honeymoon. In this film every so often they show that they are just reading a script and doing sound effects in a studio, this makes it more unique and interesting. But overall I like how they made it more realistic and they took a while to show the bedroom scene when Michel keeps begging her to sleep with him. I like this scene because it is really realistic and you really feel like your there and nothing seems very staged.

  • Grant Lewis

    I really enjoyed watching this movie, because of the way it was shot. I liked that Michel breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the camera. Which gave us a reminder that this is a movie. The jump cuts caught my attention and would draw me back to the film. I kept thinking did I miss something? I really enjoyed the scene of them driving around Paris in the car, I was focused on the scenery behind them instead of the characters. The story of the film was interesting however I also just enjoyed “Hanging out” with the characters. This is what made the film relatable in a sense. The characters didn’t seem fake or plastered over, in fact, I found Michel to be funny because his character really was the very stereotypical french man, with horrible road rage, and a pure hatred against Renault cars. Jean Luc Godard really did bring back some beauty of some of the scenes in this film, not necessarily for the plot but because he thought they belonged there. I really liked this and it gave the movie a more artistic kind of feel. This movie felt pretty realistic shot wise and romance wise.

  • Emira Divovic

    I felt like this movie is confusing because Michel and Patricia did not seem like they have a normal relationship. It is hard to tell whether they are in love or not. The lighting was natural because there was not a brighter light on the camera to make a scene look different. There was mise-en-scene because there was movement across the frame like when the police officers were trying to catch and find Michel, but he was trying to hide and run away from them. The costumes/set/props are realistic because this movie is taking place in a real location and not in a studio. An example of when the camera was at close-ups when it is was filming the part of the movie when Michel and Patricia were together in an apartment. An example of a long-distance seen was when there was a car driving on the street. The acting styles are not a strong connection because Michel was restless and nervous regarding his relationship with Patricia and regarding the cops trying to find him. Patricia was unemotional because she was thinking whether or not Michel is the man for her. My conclusion from this movie is that the movie director of this movie is trying to show us the reality of life by showing the confusing relationship between Michel and Patricia.

  • Soffiah Decena

    Having watched the film “Breathless” by Godard, I found that my favorite aspect about it was its ability to capture a girl/guy conflict. A majority of the film was filled inside a bedroom in which Michel tries to get Jean to sleep with him, while she continuously avoids his remarks and continues talking about her art and her thoughts. This scene was brilliant as we get a closer look at a sex & love dilemma. Jean simply wants Michel to connect with her and guarantee a sort of commitment, while Michel just wants sex.

    A scene in which the poster changes behind Jean from a work of art to her was remarkable since we get that idea that Michel does not care about her art or anything of her interests, but instead her beauty.

    Another scene I enjoyed was when Jean was pacing around trying to collect her thoughts and tell Michel that she doesn’t actually love him. The camera follows her around as she’s pacing and we get a stronger sense of her confusion as we walk around with her.

  • George Grunditz

    Breathless was a very enjoyable movie to watch, largely in part to the use of self reflexivity. I thought the 25 minute scene in Patricia’s room was such a great scene because it shows how movies don’t necessarily need a complex plot to be enjoyable. Just the conversation between Michel and Patricia was interesting because of the unique handheld camera angles, the lighting showing the cigarette smoke in the air, and the overall skill of the actors. This entire movie managed to be interesting without the use of a major plot because of the filming style and the actors’ casual conversation. I thought the jump cuts in particular were very cool because it’s a way to keep you visually engaged even if it’s the same exact place. And even though the Jump Cuts seem like they would be confusing, I wasn’t thrown off at all.

    Overall, I think the characters in the movie were very intriguing. Michel wants nothing but to get Patricia to love him, yet Patricia keeps trying to toy with Michel and see how far he will go. I don’t know if Patricia actually loved him, but I do think she kept going along with it and letting him stick around because she found enjoyment in manipulating him. It seemed that Michel would do absolutely anything for her, yet she would never give in to his love. This back and forth battle definitely helped the movie progress, and was also very fun to watch.

  • Nate Frazier

    The film Breathless by Jean-Luc Godard, does an amazing job at creating characters who feel real and true to their environment at the same time. Michel’s pessimism and rude attitude is what makes his character so relatable since he is always the one to say the things every one else is afraid or embarrassed to. For a “criminal” he is actually very honest most of the time. Not to say that he’s a good guy or anything, he is definitely still a terrible person but at least he’s got honesty going for him. As for the scene of Michel trying to get Patricia to sleep with him, I don’t think the scene went on for too long actually. It was just long enough to make the moment still have some humor to it. That scene really captures the essence of Michel and Patricia’s relationship, however. We get to see how they interact alone with each other and how Patricia truly feels about Michel. It is clear that she does not feel for him what he does for her. Knowing this makes it a little more sad and depressing every time he asks her to come to Rome with him. The film does a great job of creating characters with very organic attitudes and human traits.

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