Jean-Luc Godard’s first feature, from 1960, remains not only the signature work of the French New Wave but also one of the most influential films of the past six decades. Godard’s use of jump cuts, on-the-fly location shooting, and fractured storytelling revolutionized film language; these once-audacious formal devices still dominate the way many movies (and TV shows) are shot and edited today. The plot of Breathless is simple enough: A two-bit criminal, Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo), who styles himself after his idol Humphrey Bogart, shoots a policeman in Marseille after stealing a car. On the lam, he travels to Paris, where he reunites with his American girlfriend, Patricia (Jean Seberg), ambivalent at best about their relationship and unaware of Michel’s most recent crimes. In Patricia’s garret or while ambling along the streets of various arrondissements, the two lovers talk of everything and nothing, this loose, sometimes fractious, intimacy magnificently captured by Raoul Coutard, the key cinematographer of the nouvelle vague. Though generations of filmmakers have imitated Godard’s style, few have ever matched his singular sensibility, fully formed at the outset: a playful, fiercely intelligent cynicism mixed with a deeply felt love, particularly for his actors’ faces.
Breathless still feels entirely original. It still has the power to defy conventional
expectations about what a movie should be while providing an utterly captivating
moviegoing experience… Much as it may have influenced what was to come later,
there is still nothing quite like it. Even at 50, it is still cool, still new!
—A.O. Scott, The New York Times
Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut
Michel Poiccard: Jean-Paul Belmondo
Patricia Franchini: Jean Seberg
Inspecteur Vital: Daniel Boulanger
Silver Bear – Berlinale (1960)
GENRE Crime / Drama / Romance
RUNNING TIME 90 min
PRODUCTION France, 1960 & 2010
FORMAT(S) 35mm, Blu-ray, DVD
$350 to $500, pending format.
*Fees for screening rights are negotiable and may depend on: format, size of screening room, whether admission will be charged, etc. Check with each distributor and make sure to mention your participation in Tournées in your negotiation.