Breathless [À bout de souffle]

Filed under: Movie Viewing — emodjsteph at 4:03 pm on Saturday, November 26, 2011

This movie has to be my favorite out of all the ones we’ve watched so far this semester. I have a few modern French movies that I’ve seen and enjoyed and I was really surprised with how modern Breathless seemed considering it was released half a century ago. The costuming, styling and set all seemed relatively modern French. I was utterly enamored by Jean Seberg’s performance and her character which did take up a lot of my attention while watching but I think that allure was a crucial part of Patricia’s character. The same way Michel was entranced by her, I felt I was as well and I think the documentary-esque feel of the film helps with this. With the natural lighting, handheld camera and on location shooting, the line between film and observing real life becomes blurred and it is easy to feel Patricia’s, as well as Michel’s charm.

Cinematographer Raoul Coutard’s use of a wheelchair for the tracking shot.

I absolutely loved the hotel scene between Patricia and Michel because I loved the entire interactions between the two characters. It could be my romantic fascination with lovers in Paris, especially from earlier on in the century, but I really felt like the scene was a good look into the relationship between these characters. It was also nice because at first it seemed like the movie was going to be focused more on Michel running from the police, but it ended up focusing more on their relationship which I was far more interested in.

I also really liked this line from the movie because I think the idea of someone’s greatest ambition being to become immortal and then die is fascinating. Since immortality is impossible, it alone as an ambition would be big but to die while being immortal is even more impossible. The amount of ambition that one person could have to want to do the impossible of the impossible is a really interesting thought to me.

The biggest take away for me from this movie I think has to be my discovery of Jean Seberg and as much as I enjoyed this movie, I think this was the best part in the end.

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7 Comments

8

   Amy Herzog

November 30, 2011 @ 1:05 PM

Wonderful post, and I ESPECIALLY love the production still with the improvised wheelchair/dolly. This is exactly what we did when I was in film school– it’s so liberating to realize that you can make movies guerrilla-style like this, without fancy equipment, and still create works that are powerful and full of life.

You should check out Bonjour Tristesse, the Jean Seberg film that inspired Godard. He said he sees Breathless as a continuation of that character’s life… It’s a haunting film.

9

   ricardo1217

December 1, 2011 @ 1:01 PM

Breathless

This movie is part of the French New Wave. It looks like done by a very good student of film but it does not have the professionalism of a Hollywood movie. The Film uses jump cuts and it moves very fast.

Stephanie, I agree with you that the costumes have the feel of a modern movie and the characters are very realistic. The characters, Michael and Patricia have no values and live their lives as they feel like at the moment. They have no sense of God. Patricia gives up Michael because she does not like what she feels and she wants to be free of any sentiment of attachment to Michael. This type of disenchantment with the world was common among the people that were still fresh out of the stupidity and devastation of the war. It feels to me that the Director wanted to give the film an atheist existential feeling.

While I enjoyed the beauty of Patricia and the novelty of France and its people, the movie left in me a sense of desolation.

I enjoyed the presentation of your review and the proffessor’s comments.

ricardo 1217.

10

   emodjsteph

December 3, 2011 @ 8:04 PM

I was glad I found that still, I think it’s such a brilliant makeshift dolly. It is great to see that there’s much more than just the budget that can make a good movie. I will definitely check out Bonjour Tristesse, that’s really exciting to hear about.

11

   kgarvey2

December 8, 2011 @ 3:17 PM

The ambition of becoming immortal and then dying is very impressionable to the audience. Godard’s choice to use Jean-Pierre Melville, a French filmmaker as the novelist with this ambition, directly relates to the Cahiers du Cinema theory of a director as an autuer.
When Melville speaks of immortality, he is referring to the idea of the autuer and his style being immortal. Similar to the idea of a Hitchcock film consuming an identity, thus Hitchcock becomes immortal through his art.
The oxymoronic statement represents Godard’s ambition to develop his own autuer style before he dies. It is a perfect pairing of fiction and reality. Man is mortal but art is immortal. So by developing an autuer style, Godard’s art becomes immortal while the man dies.

12

   morecowbell

December 9, 2011 @ 1:33 AM

I really enjoyed this film too, getting caught up in the relationship with Michel and Patricia. The dialogue was very sweet and simple yet poetic thoughts and conversation really had my attention. You knew deep inside Patricia wanted Michel too, since she wouldn’t have kept him around all this time..but why do you think she turned him in? I like how this American girl gets a handsome, cigarette smokin’, French playboy to fall in love with her and then turns him into the police. I thought that was so awesome and creative that Godard used a wheelchair to film Breathless. That wouldn’t have even crossed my mind from watching the film once, not knowing that. Great post.

14

   andr3

December 15, 2011 @ 9:57 AM

I agree with the statement you brought up about the answer he replied is fascinating “what is your greatest ambition…to become immortal and then die”. this statement is very intriguing, that a mere mortal would give a statement like that knowing that no one lives forever. Maybe this was his way of surviving in life since his life was a dangerous one to live, but in the end got back-stabbed by his woman and meet his faith.

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