Breathless

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(1960, directed by Jean-Luc Godard)

- inducted 2016 –

“Probably one of the first movie reviews, if not the first, that I ever wrote was the one I posted to IMDb a few days after watching this Jean-Luc Godard film for the first time. Many things have happened since, as I decided to study filmmaking, got the diploma, started working as a screenwriter, and all that while still struggling with this (to me) foreign language, trying to explain what these films make me think and feel. And now eight years later, after writing that first dumb review, now that so many things have changed, what can I really say about this masterpiece that put the name of Godard in the map of both international cinema and as the most interesting voice in the Nouvelle Vague?

“Honestly, not even then was I able to do anything truly extraordinary in terms of writing a thesis or whatever it was that I tried to do, as I was obsessed with making everything into literature, I imagined a conversation between Godard and Truffaut (after the supposed fight that came after the release of the film) and how they supposedly reconciled. I was and still am a man that thinks of reconciliation as the best way moving forward, and I think I have to reconcile with myself with the fact that this might be the film that made me understand what cinema is truly capable of, and thus pushed me in the right direction when it came to the decision of studying filmmaking.

“I don’t think cinema would be the same without Godard, and Godard would’ve definitely been a different kind of artist without Breathless. There’s the sensation that everything is lying down, as if the director and everyone else when the cameras weren’t rolling, they just were rolling over beds, not because of how lazy they were, but due to the sensation of effortless relaxation that turns the images into the most daring pictures conceived until that point in French cinema. The jump cuts as a result of pure necessity beyond any sort of intended experimentation is the kind of naive attitude and accident that explains the behavior that I’m trying to explain.

“Belmondo and Seberg both embody that attitude as they say their discussions and words lying down in bed, smoking one cigarette after the other, blurting out the words that Godard wrote hours before in a café on the way to the set, all this while the camera fixates on their faces and then decides to wander around, not sure if it’s making some sort of point as much as it just wants to get into the flow of the conversation and into the mood of these characters, that while being chased by the police, they still maintain a calm attitude towards everything that to some today may seem exasperating, but that in the context of a film that was made with a lot of thought but with a relaxed mind, it makes sense.”

~ Jaime Grijalba

Original title: À bout de souffle
Principal cast: Jean Seberg, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Daniel Boulanger, Henri-Jacques Huet, Roger Hanin, Van Doude, Claude Mansard, Liliane Dreyfus, Michel Fabre, Jean-Pierre Melville, Jean-Luc Godard, Richard Balducci, André S. Labarthe, Francois Moreuil
Based on a story by Francois Truffaut
Produced by Georges de Beauregard
Director of photography: Raoul Coutard
Film editing by Cécile Decugis
Original music by Martial Solal
Sound by Jacques Maumont
Technical advisor: Claude Chabrol
Makeup by Phuong Maittret (uncredited)
Screenplay by Jean-Luc Godard (uncredited)

France
Duration: 90 minutes
Languages: French, English
Filmed in black and white
Sound mix: Mono
Aspect ratio: 1.37:1

Produced by Les Films Impéria, Les Productions Georges de Beauregard, Société Nouvelle de Cinématographie
Released in USA by Films Around the World
Premiered in France on 16 March 1960
USA release date: 7 February 1961

Awards and honors:
- Selected as one of Roger Ebert’s “Great Movies,” 20 July 2003
- Berlin Film Festival, 1960: Silver Bear for Best Director, Jean-Luc Godard (won)
- Prix Jean Vigo for Best Feature Film, 1960 (won)
- Berlin Film Festival, 1960: Golden Bear (nominated)
- BAFTA Awards, 1961: Best Foreign Actress, Jean Seberg (nominated)