Monday, June 13, 2016


When I first watched Breathless (A Bout de Souffle), I have to admit, I wasn't that impressed. However, after studying and analyzing it in film class with my professor and classmates, I realized that this film was much more than just an American girl (Patricia, played by Jean Seberg) running off with a European bad boy (Michel, played by Jean-Paul Belmondo) to Italy. My film professor said that Breathless was a great example of the French New Wave of the '60s, and he was right.

The plot of Breathless was simple and direct, which was one of the reasons I enjoyed the film. It starts off with Michel stealing a car and impulsively killing a police officer. He hides out at his girlfriend's apartment. By the end of the film, she questions being with him. Jean-Paul Belmondo reminded me of Humphrey Bogart in his performance, especially with the cigarette. Jean Seberg played the stereotypical innocent American young girl with a sweet vulnerability.

Jean-Luc Godard wrote and directed Breathless in 1960.  It established him as an important director because of his editing techniques.  It was an extremely influential example of French New Wave (nouvelle vague) cinema because of this. I remember watching it in film class and loving how it looked like a black and white documentary. The unconventional use of jump cuts (giving the effect of jumping forward in time) grabbed the attention of everyone in class because of the abrupt transitions from one scene to the next. 

Breathless was one of the first foreign films I studied in college. Before then, I'd never watched any foreign films. During my college years, I was exposed to different types of films that weren't mainstream Hollywood and I'm grateful for that. Some people shy away from foreign films because of the language barrier, but that's what subtitles are for. However, when watching this film, the characters' body language told me a great deal about what was happening in the film.

I really enjoyed this film because it taught me about editing techniques and how little to no light affects the mood of a film. If you want to be involved in any aspect of the film making process, then you must be open to new experiences and techniques. Breathless is an important part of cinema because of the editing techniques used in it and is a significant contribution to film history. Hopefully, my review of this film will encourage others to expand their horizons and watch films that aren't made in mainstream Hollywood.

Lisa's Score: 8/10

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