Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Breathless was Jean-Luc Godard's first feature film. Released in 1960, Francois Truffaut helped Godard set up and fund this film with money he had made from The 400 Blows. The influence of Breathless was far reaching and is still felt to this day. It was one of the first films to feature editing that did not follow the strict rules of continuity. It also featured Jean-Paul Belmondo as the lead (this was the role that first made him famous) who would "break the fourth wall" by addressing the camera directly. These new experimental ideas that Godard presented in this film opened up the palette for filmmakers around the world and challenged them to experiment as well. With this film, Godard seemed to be saying that one can do anything with film, show anything- there are no rules.
Breathless was highly influenced by American gangster/noir films. Godard did not merely idolize America with this film though. He was very critical of American politics, but loved American film. It really seemed (and still currently seems) that Godard had a love/hate relationship with American culture. This is evident in the script which has an American girl betraying a French man, but at the same time glorifies American cars and American film.
Breathless pushed the boundaries in cinematography as well. There is one extended scene (roughly 18 minutes long) which is a conversation between the two lead characters in bed and around an apartment that takes place after they had slept with one another. This was still somewhat of a cultural taboo at the time, and attracted attention in the press. The film also used handheld cameras for many of the shots, which was something new that audiences had rarely if ever seen before- especially to the extent that Godard used them.

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