Breathless Movie Analysis

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Breathless, originally titled ‘À bout de souffle’, made in 1960 is a movie about a small-time thief who steals a car and murders a policeman. The story is about authorities chasing him while he reunites with an American journalist and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy. Jean-Luc Godard, the director of the movie often quotes, ‘To make a film, all you need is a girl and a gun.’, which is probably the inspiration behind this movie. Breathless was one of the movies that kicked off the French New Wave. Like several of his French New Wave members, Jean-Luc Godard started as a film critic, and wrote for the magazine ‘Cahiers du Cinema’ in the 1950s, when he was in his early 20s. Godard’s friend, François Truffaut, who also wrote…show more content…
There are also freeze-frames and jump cuts, which add to the effect of French New Wave cinema. However, I chose a specific extract from the movie to analyze in detail. What grabbed my attention the most in the movie was the scene where the protagonist shoots the policeman. This scene was particularly interesting since there was major use of jump cuts and other techniques used in French New Wave. This scene, along with the entire movie, reflects on Jean-Luc Godard’s work in all ways possible. Breathless is most commonly known for Godard’s style of editing, which made jump cuts more popular and acceptable. Films during this time were expected to follow a smooth way of editing, with every cut following a very logical pattern. However, Godard did the complete opposite and relied on unexpected, quick jumps in editing. Godard makes use of the jump cut when Michel passes numerous cars on the road. A point of view shot from Michel’s view on the street, quickly passing car after car, is shown. Here Godard is showing the same action over and over again, without a flow. This action not only gives the audience a thrill, but also illuminates the character of Michelle. He isn’t the mastermind he thinks he is. He isn’t smooth or…show more content…
Breathless is reflexive in the way that it copies and uses elements of various genres (especially American gangster pictures. Movies had always done this, but filmmakers had usually tried to hide it, to pretend that each film was created in a vacuum, independent of what came before it. However, the New Wavers, and especially Godard, put their influences out in the open. The film begins with the interesting exposition of Michel’s character, but is a serious of display throughout, slowly developing in a complex of role exchanges. Patricia Franchini is depicted as a naïve twenty-year-old woman who depends on her parents for money, and Michel is the gangster who steals and murders. The developing characters synchronize for a moment, but then they switch over from where the other came. The action ascends gradually, but the plot development is in the mise en cine and dialogue where Patricia swipes her thumb over Michele’s dead body. The tone and feel are exaggerated throughout the film by the instability created by Godard’s use of a handheld camera. The title, Breathless, could imply a surprise or a romantic surge, but A Bout de Souffle, has the denotation of the Last or Final Breath, which offers a significant difference as a description of the film. Godard declared that, “A Bout de Souffle is a story, not a theme.” The film does not have a theme as it includes several genres like crime, comedy and love. At
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