Film Only Review
A Bout De Souffle (translated to Breathless in English)
Directed By: Jean Luc Goddard
Release Date: 7 February 1961
Runtime: 90 minutes
Language: French (English Subtitles)
Filmed in black and white despite the use of colour coming into use in the film industry in 1935 with the film Becky Sharp by Rouben Marmoulian (this was the first film which was considered a real full length film, but colour was used before this too between the 1920s and 1930s.)
A Bout de Souffle is about a small time criminal Michel Pioccard, who is living in Paris. He has stolen a car, and in the mix he killed the police officer persuing him, no longer a small time thief, he then tries to persuade a young American journalist working in Paris to run away to Italy with him, Patricia is someone he has met before, and he quickly renews this releationship when he sees her selling the Herrald in the street.
The film is famous for not following a particular plot line, but the important word in that sentence, is famous, and it has made it's name and made the director Jean-Luc Goddard famous in French film making.
Michel and Patricia go though the city, evading the french Police and collecting debts from someone who owes Michel money before trying to flee the country.
But will they manage it without been caught by the police?
I watched this film in my Film Studies class last year, it isn't the type of film which I would chose to watch for myself, but I found I did kind of enjoy the film, and it made great evaluating for various essays in class. Especially the final scene, anybody who has watched the film will know what I mean!
The fact the film is filmed in black and white, it is made that way by the director to try and make the film seem older, seeing as the film is set in around the 1940s when alot of films would still have been black and white.
For a 1960s film, the filming is excellent, and if you were watching it now, you wouldn't think it was made that long ago, everything about it seems modern and new, I suppose the word you could use is classic, it will never go out of date. Even almost 50 years on, the film is enjoyable and seems too new world to be so old, if that makes sense! It's the kind of film which film makers today strive to produce, one which will last a life time without going out of fashion, without going out of date and seeming very aged. That is something which I liked about A Bout De Souffle. If I compare the film to the British film, The Italian Job which was filmed in 1969, although also a very famous film which will also never go out of date, and never go unwatched, the filming is completely different, with the Italian job you look at screenshots and think 1960s, whereas you could mistake A Bout de Souffle for a modern (80s/90s) film.
The acting in A Bout De Souffle is to be desired, Michel is weird in the film, and he acts in strange ways which are just not at all believable, when he shoots the Police Officer in the beginning of the film, he just hops in the car and drives off, lights a cigarette (a popular feature with him in the film!) and gets on with it, he isn't speeding away from the crime scene and acts completely relaxed despite it been the first time he has ever killed anyone! And again the final scene is just crazy in the way it's shot!
This film is not for everyone, I wouldn't have watched it if it hadn't been for college, but I found I did enjoy it in the end, and it has made me stop been so fussy about the films I watch.
I wouldn't watch the film if you have trouble reading, especially if your watching it on a small screen as unless your fluent in French you will need the subtitles! I have watched this film about 20 times now, with the re watching and analysing of every scene, and I must say when you have watched it twice in one day, it does get very annoying!
If you like the Indie type films, the new world films, the likes of City of God then you will love this film, and I would give it a try even if you don't normally watch these films!
Surprisingly good film if a little weird in places!
There are plenty of straight forward film reviews for this, so here is another angle.
The film has the look of a documentary; this is largely due to the use of lightweight hand-held cameras. These cameras, usually used for television, gave more mobility that made shooting on location a lot easier, as well as cheaper and quicker.
A distinctive feature of the French New Wave films is location shooting on the streets of Paris.
Where Classical Hollywood Cinema strictly adhered to the principles of continuity editing; 180° rule, 30° rule, shot/reverse shot etc. The French New Wave directors disregarded these rules in favour of long, fluid tracking shots, montage sequences and (most notably in A Bout de Souffle) the jump cut.
The scene in A Bout de Souffle where Michel and Patricia are walking down the Champs Elisé is a good example of the shot/reverse shot technique being rejected in favour of a smooth tracking shot with the couple both in frame. This, along with the films lack of establishing shots, prevents us from identifying too closely with the characters.
The most radical of these forms of editing though must be the jump cut, this is where there is a visible jump on the screen due to two shots of the same situation being cut together when the camera has been moved less than 30° between shots or the camera has remained in the same position and some action between the two shots has been cut out.
A classic example would be the scene near the beginning of the film where Michel is driving along in a stolen car talking to himself. Although the dialogue remains continuous the images are broken up with jump cuts, so we only see certain sections of his journey. This leaves us confused as the audio contradicts the visual; the soundtrack flows on as periods of time are clearly removed on the screen.
This use of discontinuity editing draws attention to the camera and the editing, known as foregrounding. Where Hollywood would try to hide the editing, make it transparent, the French New Wave directors made it obvious; constantly reminding the viewer they are watching a film.
In A Bout de Souffle there are points when both Michel and Patricia look directly at the camera, fictional characters appearing to acknowledge the audience.
One of the key moments in A Bout de Souffle as far as the narrative is concerned is when Michel shoots a police officer. This scene moves very quickly from the point when the police motorbike pulls off the road towards Michel to Michel running across a field. Typically Hollywood directors would have dwelled on this crucial piece of action however we see very little other than a few different shots of Michel's arm, the gun and the police officer falling to the ground. By contrast a later scene where Michel and Patricia talk in an apartment for well over 20 minutes, the conversation is irrelevant and the scene adds nothing significant to the narrative.
One of the reasons for the films amateurish and casual look is the use of non-professional and unknown actors. The French New Wave directors sought realism and encouraged improvisation from the actors, though Godard insists the dialogue in A Bout de Souffle was all scripted.
Women were also given roles more central to the narrative.
Aside from the soundtrack being separate from the visual, the dialogue is a key aspect of the film. The use of slang, the playing with words as well as the use of foreign phrases; there are pieces of Spanish, Italian and English interspersed with the French, all marked something fresh. Multiple diegesis: broken up time, broken up language is another identification mark of the French New Wave.
Intertextuality is another recurring theme in French New Wave films. The directors, being critics themselves, were very knowledgeable in their field and made many references to films (and other texts) in their own productions. A Bout de Souffle is no exception to this with many film references, most famously Michel almost modelling himself on Humphrey Bogart.
Ambiguous endings are a feature of French New Wave films that Hollywood filmmakers would avoid. French New Wave directors often had films end with things left uncertain with no definite outcome. Hollywood films, on the other hand would always try and regain a state of equilibrium at the end of the film. Things would have to be rounded off to make the audience feel comfortable with the result. Unpleasure is common in French New Wave films, the viewer is made to feel sad or frustrated. At the same time though there is frequently a dark, cynical humour to the films and often an element of irony.
Often French New Wave films attack the middle classes or authority. They can be morally corrupt and push the boundaries of what is acceptable. Sexual taboos are destroyed and the freedom of the individual is of the utmost importance.
After 1962 the revolutionary methods developed by the French New Wave directors were creeping into mainstream cinema, the core directors started to go their separate ways and what we call the French New Wave came to an end.
It?s not easy being the only French film fanatic in your family and immediate social circle. The following is something I have heard many, many times, sometimes in jest, but far too often in deadly earnest. ?You know that Jean-Luc Godard you like? I heard something about one of his films the other night. The food one, I think. It was called ?About a Soufflé?. We could speculate for hours about what kind of film About a Soufflé might be. A Jamie Oliver bio-pic, perhaps. Or a Nick Hornby pastiche in which Colin Firth or Hugh Grant nurture an emotionally vulnerable dessert while coming to terms with their own immaturity. A Bout de Souffle, however, is a very different kettle of kittens. It was the ferocious feature debut from the superb Jean-Luc Godard. Imagine the scene. You?re living in Paris in the late 1950s, writing reviews for a French film magazine. But you suddenly decide that most of the films you?re watching suck. They?re just novels on screen, very bland and unimaginative. Why can?t French films be more like Hollywood, who have people like Hitchcock and Nicholas Ray putting a real stamp on the films they?re directing? You write a few petulant articles, promoting directors as ?auteurs? of films, the artists who should be constantly re-defining the cinematic medium. But then it occurs to you that this is a bit half-hearted. So you say ?sod it?, start the New Wave and make your own films which transform cinema forever. ?A Bout de Souffle? tells the simple story of a young wannabe gangster on the run from the police. He hooks up with an American girl and they make a lame bid to flee to Italy together. According to legend, the plot came from fellow New Waver François Truffaut, who wrote it on the back of a matchbook. Jean-Paul Belmondo, who went on to become one of France?s screen legends, plays Michel Poiccard. He acts alongside Jean Seberg, who is a rather tragic figure in film?s history. <
br> The basic boy meets girl storyline is hardly radical, but A Bout de Souffle used then cutting-edge technology with the result that it hardly looks 45 years old, despite being in black and white. New lightweight cameras meant that Godard could take his low-budget film crew out into the streets, and also gave him a lot more freedom to move the camera. Of course, we all take this sort of thing for granted these days, but the sight of Godard and chums wheeling cinematographer Raoul Coutard around Paris in a pram with a camera on the end was far too much for the normally ultra-chic Parisian set. In several of the scenes you can see pedestrians turning round to gawp at the filming, which is great fun. In order to save valuable film stock, Jean-Luc Godard also pioneered the use of the jump-cut, which gave the film a rapid pace which holds up well for the MTV generation. The blistering speed of the film also lead at least partly to the title, which translates more accurately as ?Out of Breath? rather than the ?Breathless? which was used for its international release and for the AWFUL Richard Gere remake, which I?ve also reviewed. The screenplay matches the hip editing and camerawork. Belmondo is effortlessly stylish as he robs and assaults his way through Paris, and Seberg is a serene and enigmatic beauty. Several of the scenes have become iconic, most notably the tracking shot down the Champs Elysées, as Poiccard chats up Patricia while she tries to sell the ?New York Herald Tribune? to passers by. (For a bit of tragic irony, Seberg, whose career was largely disappointing aside from this film, was eventually found dead in a car just off the Champs Elysées, just yards from where she filmed her greatest moment. She apparently died of a barbiturate overdose.) But of course, this is an early Godard film, which means several things are likely to happen. As well as being constantly enigmatic, the girl will almost certainly bet
ray the hero in some way. At some point the two leads will hole themselves up in a flat and talk about art and films for a quarter of an hour. Quotations from all sorts of places will abound. And, just when you were thinking it was getting a bit arty, violence will erupt all over the place. The violence in A Bout de Souffle was one of the starting points for my thesis. Although there?s nothing too shocking by today?s standards, Poiccard?s first murder and the film?s climax succeeded in repulsing most international film critics. In fact, the film was one of the inspirations for Arthur Penn?s Bonnie and Clyde, from the violence to the stylish criminal couple. The openly sexual element of Michel and Patricia?s relationship was also shocking at the time, although there are never any naughty bits on display. Combined with the funky camerawork, there was a sense that this new approach to cinema was more ?realistic?. With a conclusion that is at once ambiguous and oddly moving, there is no doubt that A Bout de Souffle remains a very strange film, even after nearly 45 years. It?s premise, of a thug obsessed with Humphrey Bogart going on the run, is subverted both by Belmondo?s extremely potent charisma (you always feel a bit mean describing him as a criminal, maybe just a bit of a rascal), and by the usual Godardian flourishes and digressions. Just when you think it can?t get any vaguer, Patricia wanders off to interview a sexist novelist for ten minutes. As is usual when someone has a hit early in their career, Godard later distanced himself from the film. The signature jump-cuts were never really used in his later films. When questioned about it, he later said: ?I thought I was making Scarface, but it turned out I?d made Alice in Wonderland, more or less.? Certainly, there is a slightly surreal aspect to much of the film?s action. Poiccard is too quirky and unpredictable to be taken entirely seriously, and the way people keep gawping at
the camera doesn?t exactly help... But it remains brilliantly watchable throughout. With largely improvised dialogue, charismatic performances, and a thoroughly modern sensibility, this 45 year old black and white French film is a true piece of cinematic art. SHAMELESS PLUG As most of you must surely know by now, I have published a book on Jean-Luc Godard. Available in printed and downloadable formats, my MPhil thesis is an examination of all Godard?s early films, and particularly the violence within them. Reviewed and recommended by jillmurphy and salayavin here on Ciao. For more information, point your browsers here: http://www.lulu.com/Lawston
Breathless (official title A Bout de Souffle) is a fantastic film. Althoug it can be said that those film fans who hate foreign films may find it dificult to swallow, Breathless is, and will always remain, a landmark movie. There are other opinions here on this film that do it justice, films that talk of the brilliance of Godard's work, and therefore I have come to the conclusion that I will not write a similar opinion. Instead, I will write an opinion on French Poetic Realism, citing other movies from around the same time and also before it. I hop that this is useful to anyone who reads it, and I look forward to your comments. French poetic realism was the style of film making in France in the late 1930s and I will hopefully attempt to show how it differes from the classical Hollywood narrative, and how it certainkly remains a massive influence on BREATHLESS. INTRODUCTION European Cinema, particularly for this assignment: French Poetic Realism; is critically praised throughout the world, mainly for its artistic look and feel, and for the issues that it deals with. This is compared to the classical Hollywood style of film making that is much more successful in terms of box office receipts, and that has a set number of unwritten rules for the way in which the film must read and flow. This opinion however, will examine these differences of classical Hollywood cinema and French poetic realism, and attempt to show how, although they are differences, there are also many similarities. The first thing that is important to establish is exactly what French poetic realism is and how it came about. David Robinson says: “out of the poetic realism of the immediate pre-war period there developed a new vein of poetic romanticism.” This gives us an idea of where this poetic realism stems from. It states that it comes from before world war two broke out. The term refers to 1930s French cinema, and the importance of it formi
ng a French national identity. Film from this period, including others, include Pepe Le Moko and Le Crime de Monsieur Lange ; and these will be discussed later in the essay. In order to present the arguments I wish to make, I will write this essay in a particular order. The first thing that I am going to talk about is the social and cultural contexts in which these films were made. SOCIAL AND CULTURAL CONTEXT It is important to understand that as in many countries, although not as strongly hostile, France did have a north and south divide. The north was considerably richer than the poor farmers in the south. However the majority was in the south, and therefore this was the main target audience for French film makers in the 1930s. It was to be important that the films they made appealed to everyone and helped to unite the people of France through the construction of a national identity. The films were to be made to appeal to French people, and therefore have a French look and feel, i.e. they must instantly be recognisable as being French. They would also have to show the French way of life, showing happiness and unity, but also showing the problems of 1930s France, and how it was possible to get from this unity and success. There are a number of political issues that must also be considered when thinking about this time (late 1930s). One of these is the rise of Fascism in Italy and Germany, and Communism in Spain. This resulted in fear of these movements throughout Europe, and would therefore have been addressed within French Cinema. In the mid 1930s There was a coalition of the left wing political parties and their aim was to stand up against the rise of the extreme right, i.e. fascism. Therefore these fears were being combated in society and politics as well as being represented on the screen. However, in America there was no such political problem and at this time their own concern was not on political problems in Europe, but on
their own economic problems, following a series of major and minor economic depressions. Le Crime de Monsieur Lange was made in 1935 and was released in 1936. The film is about a man, Amedee Lange, who is a writer, and who kills a corrupt man, Batala. This is an important representation of the problems of this time: showing a measly employee of a publishing house who kills a greedy, evil, dictator type man (the reflection is that of the nation of France and its left wing political representatives, fighting off the oppression and uprising of the right, fascist enemies). Dudley Andrew Says of this film: “Le Crime de Monsieur Lange is an unpretentious film about an unpretentious hero, a popular representation replete with popular images (dime novels, posters, a low-budget movie in the works). It deserves to be in the forefront of anything deserving the name, ‘The Popular front’, the movement whose official programme was published just days before the film’s premiere in January 1936.” This statement proves that the film and the political and social situation in France at the time were almost mirrored together, and without doubt serve as reflections of each other. GENRE Genre is a widely explored area of film studies. Although there is much written about American film genres (that of Classical Hollywood) there are distinctions that can be made between these of America and those of the French Poetic realism era of the late 1930s. There are also similarities which I shall also discuss in more detail later. Barry Keith Grant says: “Stated simply, genre movies are those commercial feature films which, through repetition and variation , tell familiar stories with familiar characters in familiar situations. They also encourage expectations and experiences similar to those of similar films we have already seen.” Grant is obviously here referring to the conceptions of genre in American cinema - but this statement can
also be used to describe genre in French cinema of the 1930s. The film I am going to use to explore this idea of genre is going to be Pepe le Moko. By watching this film you can see that it is undeniably influenced by American gangster films of the 1920s and the 1930s. However, with this poetic realism film, it is not as simple as merely calling it a gangster film. There are many differences to be found and these are what I will concentrate on first. In Pepe we have a restricted knowledge of where he came from and how he got where he is at that moment in time, but in American gangster films we see the rise and fall of the main character. Also, in American films we have a distinct feeling of the crimes committee by the gangster are wrong, and in the end he pays for the crime in a just way, however in Pepe his death at the end is suicidal: self inflicted closure because of loss. Therefore, although he dies, as recommended by the Hollywood production code, he does not die by the hand of a figure of justice for the crimes he has committed, but instead because of his own despair and loss of love. Also there is the constant feeling that although the hero has money and respect, he does not have true happiness; as is a feature of the American gangster films. However, although he finds what can make him happy, he can not have it because of his lifestyle, and is punished at the end of the film with his dark demise. So, we can see differences and similarities between the genres of Hollywood and French poetic realism. I will now talk about the uses of stars in French cinema STARS IN FRENCH POETIC REALIST CINEMA In Classical Hollywood films, the star was an essential factor in the success of a film. A star would be created by a studio, and then marketed and given many similar roles - sometimes even becoming more important to the construction of the film than the narrative story itself. There are considerably less stars, however in French (or all European ) cinema.
The films that are made rely more on the stories they are telling and the mood in which they are set than on gimmicks such as stars and special effects. Although there will be film stars in these French films which the French audiences will have seen before, they are not as widely marketed as stars from the American film Industry. In actual fact, at the time the French audiences would have recognised Hollywood stars more than they would have recognised French film stars. There were a number of famous and successful actors and actresses in France at this time, but they were made popular by their performances in successful and acclaimed films, and not by mere advertising and promotion campaigns by big money studios. After this short section on the star system I am now going to talk about the subject treatment within French Poetic realism, as opposed to that seen in Classical Hollywood Film. SUBJECT TREATMENT There are certain themes that Classical Hollywood Cinema could never deal with, and others that could only be addressed in a very restricted way. In this section I will explain what these are and also how European Cinema, due to having no production code as Hollywood had, could address these themes and problems in a much more open and less restricted way. An example of these restrictions on Hollywood is the gangster film, which had a certain number of rules that it had to follow. These included that the acts of violence and criminal activity could not be shown on screen; the criminal must pay for his crimes in a just way and no acts of lust or sexual activity may be shown or openly suggested. But, for example in Pepe Le Moko we see many of the acts of violence, including his own suicide at the end of the film; although in similarity to Hollywood, the shootings in this film resemble those in Classical Hollywood film making and graphic violence is not shown. But in this film he is never caught by the policeman trying to catch him by getting him to
go into the town, and therefore never actually pays for the crimes he has committed in any way. Instead he kills himself because he loses the woman he loves. Also in this film there is an open suggestion of sexual interest, in that Pepe and the main female character meet in secret (away from his girlfriend) to quite clearly, make love. Therefore it can be seen that these French films of this period allow certain subjects to be approached that could not be in Hollywood. Even political subjects were openly suggested, with much less subtlety than can be found in Hollywood, who never seemed to take any gambles with their Filmaking: it always seemed to be financial security that they were trying to secure - not a deep political or important social message. MODES OF PRODUCTION In French cinema of the 1930s, there was a big difference in production modes and methods than that of Classical Hollywood Cinema. There are many factors that I wish to mention, and this I shall do now. Hollywood was a monopoly industry, with the big money, big power studios controlling what films were made and how those films were made and distributed etc. However, in France in the 1930s, there were only two large corporations , Paramount and Gaumont, and these were known as the majors. The other production companies were independent and were known as the minors. Already we see how the systems of film productions were different. These studios in Hollywood allowed economic stability: everything worked by a way of financial ability and there was a system of profit that allowed further films to be made. However , in France there was financial instability and when the depression hit in 1935 Paramount withdrew their finance from French film production. Another factor that was prominent in these production differences was that the studios in Hollywood often employed the same staff of writers, directors and actors/actresses etc., from film to film; and they had normally signed long term
contracts with these studios. However in France, as in the rest of Europe, There was a ‘creative team’ that worked merely on one film, and then if that film was successful they would move onto another project. This Hollywood job security was therefore not present in France, where there was a lot more instability. It is also important to remember that Hollywood was creating and using state of the art technology, whilst France was way behind with inferior technology and therefore inferior production methods and techniques. An example of this problem is the introduction of sound. While Hollywood was using perfected synchronised sound techniques, France was having problems with their inferior versions of the sound system. But the similarity that we can see here is that Paramount was an American studio investing in French Cinema and Gaumont itself was a big studio that could afford to invest in bigger budget movies. So although these studios were a minority in French Cinema at this time, and not a monopoly as in Hollywood, there is this slight similarity that can be seen. I will end this section with two consecutive quotes from the book ‘Film Art’: “Studios and large distribution firms have ready access to large amounts of capital and usually can ensure the distribution and exhibition of the films they decide to back. The independent filmmaker or group often has trouble gaining access to money or to audiences.” “But many filmmakers believe the advantages of independence outweigh the drawbacks. Independent production can treat subjects that large-scale studio production ignores.” This last quote also backs up the previous section, where I discussed the use treatment and attitude towards certain subjects. FILM STYLE The most important subject to consider when talking about the similarities and differences between French cinema and Hollywood cinema, is that of film style. Here we can see many thin
gs that are similar, and also many things that appear to be quite different. The first thing that we can notice as being similar is that the way that the film actually flows in term of narrative is quite similar to that of Hollywood. This, in my view, is to give the maximum of entertainment and to appeal as best it can to the mass audiences that will be going to see a lot of these Hollywood productions. It would also have been used to keep the attention of the audience and not to confuse them (as maybe a montage film from Russia, or another avant-garde style may do). But despite this there are many differences that have to be consider. The first of these is the mood of the whole film (poetic realism) when compared to one from the classical Hollywood style. The films are much darker and are extremely pessimistic. The characters are shown to be multi-layered and instead of using cause and effect and action to motivate the character development, the characters search within themselves for psychological advancement. For example, in Pepe le Moko, the main character is searching for a happiness in a woman, and he risks his security and his glamorous life for this psychological reason. In a Hollywood film he would have been greedy and looking for more money, planning the next crime that would make him happy. But this is not the only difference in French poetic realism. For example, in Le Crime de Monsieur Lange, there is a 360 degree pan that blows away the rules of continuity that are found in classical Hollywood film. There is a lot of camera movement in these films than in Hollywood, and the actors appear to express themselves and their character’s feeling much more openly than in Hollywood. The lighting in these films is much darker than in Hollywood also. For example, in Le Crime de Monsieur Lange, there is a moody, film noirish feel about the movie. In terms of narrative structure, the films can be seen as being very different. For examp
le, the characters have a goal, although normally psychological, and whereas in Hollywood a goal is often achieved in an uplifting and ‘happy’ ending, in French poetic realism , the characters seldom achieve their goals. There is often a fatal failure at the end of the film that allows it to be distinguished from these American films. Another thing to point is that we have restricted knowledge of the character. In Hollywood, we would be given a detailed background to the character’s life before or during the principal events of the film. However, In French cinema of this period, we are just thrust into a world that these characters inhabit, and we are normally invited to make our own minds up about what has happened to these people in the past. To Back this argument is this quote from David Robinson : “Duvivier found his happiest metier in a series of films of powerfully romantic atmosphere and the fatalistic tone which seemed to dominate all the most popular French films on the eve of the second world war. The prototype of the group is Pepe le Moko.” CONCLUSION French Poetic Realism was the French cinematic style of film making in the late 1930s, and originally comes from 19th Century literature, that was very pessimistic and fatalistic, dealing with issues such as madness, alcoholism and crime within the French working classes. In this assignment I have explored the social and cultural contexts in which these films were made, how the genres in classical Hollywood cinema and French cinema of the late 1930s differ and how stars are constructed and shown/marketed etc. I have also explained how These mainly independent French film productions allowed riskier subjects to be featured, whereas they couldn’t be used in Hollywood productions, and also how the film making styles and the way in which these films are produced are the same and how they differ. Throughout this essay I have shown the similarities and differ
ences between Classical Hollywood Cinema and French Poetic realism. I will end now with a quote from Andrew Dudley. “This helps to explain the dominant look and themes of French cinema in the 1930s and their conservative aesthetic. Performance values lorded it over every other concern; French audiences were more attuned to acting , including song and dance, than to story and certainly so-called ‘cinematic values’ like camerawork and editing. Nearly everyone concerned with Filmaking in France around 1930 was engaged, consciously or not, in reshaping known and popular entertainment forms to the exigencies of the movies”. BIBLIOGRAPHY Bordwell, David and Thompson, Kristin Film Art: An Introduction, McGraw-Hill, 1997 Dudley, Andrew Family Diversions: French Popular cinema and the Music Hall Grant, Barry Keith Film Genre Reader II, University of Texas Press, 1997. Robinson, David World Cinema , Eyre Methuen, London, 1973
This is an amazing film. It is just so laidback and cool. Jean Paul Belmondo oozes charisma as a murderer on the run from the police. Godard knows how to film a city, Paris looks beautiful and the street cafes look so sophisticated. The storyline is simple, but that doesn't matter as it is the charcters that we are interested in more. This is stylish and is the kind of movie that makes you want to make movies. Go and see it at the cinema if you can as it is really impressive on a big screen. A classic piece of movie making.
A Bout de Souffle is a stunningly subtle movie that works because the characters are so convincing. Jean Paul Belmondo is so cool and charismatic as Michel that you like even though he is a liar, thief and murderer. Some of the framing for the movie is dodgy, and so is the editing, but what makes this film work is the excellent love story and the funny one-liners. Don't be put off if you have seen the Richard Gere remake, this knocks that one for six! Godard has never made a better film and neither has Belmondo. I was fortunate to see this film this very evening at my Uni cinema, and the images are still fresh in my memory. A cinematic masterpiece.
This French New Wave classic changed the way that films were perceived world wide and gave world-wide fame not just to its star Jean Paul Belmondo but also to its director jean Luc Godard. It tells the story of a young man who steals a car, kills a policeman and hides out in Paris but the plot is not as important as the style. Godard uses jump cuts, real locations and a cluttered sound track to revolutionise the way films are made. At one point the visuals cut out altogether and we are left with the sound track alone. Belmondo wanders around pretending to be Bogart and oozing Gallic roguish charm. Altogether a classic film - you may not enjoy it as pure entertainment but you are still watching its after effects now every time you see a film
A bout de souffle, or Breathless, is probably one of the most innovative films that I have ever seen. Jean-Luc Goddard has looked at the aesthetics of cinema and completely changed them. Whereas previous films desired to stitch the viewer into the dialogue so that they felt like part of the action, and could identify with the characters, and easily pick out heroes and villains, Goddard has created a situation where we are made to feel disorientated, and to believe that the characters are not real. This is largely done by the use of natural lighting and the use of non continuous editing and jump cuts (where the connection between two pieces of action is not seamless, but there is a jump or a jolt). This gives the film an almost documentary feel. Not only this but the characters do not have clear identification; Micheal (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is supposed to be a gangster but he wears tweed jackets and silk socks, and Patricia (Jean Seberg) is confused due to her lack of understanding of the French language. Also some of the acting is deliberately rather amateur. All though this sounds like the film is incredibly obscure, and art-house, it is actually very enjoyable to watch, maybe just because it is so completely different, but it also still has a good (all be it B-movie) storyline. Goddard's constant breaking away from cinematic codes shocks the viewer, but is also very interesting; for example the sequences range from very short, to the 25 minute sequence in the hotel room, and also the characters look directly into the camera, or walk away from the camera and walk straight back again, and Goddard experiments with the juxtaposition of music, sound effects and image.
Jean-Luc Godard's 'A Bout De Souffle' (or 'Breathless') is an effortlessly cool homage to American 50s B-movies, that set the trend for countless indie film-makers. The conventional story is about a young car thief, played by Jean-Paul Belmondo, who kills a cop and goes on the run with his girlfriend. However the film is striking because of Godard's 'point-and-shoot' technique, using hand-held cameras, improvised dialogue and brutal cutting. 'Breathless' still feels fresh, exiting and, to coin a 60s phrase, 'hip'. Supposedly revolutionary film-makers like Lars von Trier seem to be just repeating the standard Godard set in 1960.