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There was before Breathless, and there was after Breathless. With its lack of polish, surplus of attitude, crackling personalities of rising stars Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg, and anything-goes crime narrative, Jean-Luc Godard's debut fashioned a simultaneous homage to and critique of the American film genres that influenced and rocked him as a film writer for Cahiers du cinema. Jazzy, free-form, and sexy, Breathless (A bout de souffle) helped launch the French new wave and ensured cinema would never be the same.
The original trailer exclaims that Breathless is "The best film on the screen today!" Thanks to the Criterion Collection, the tragicomic tale of "the nice man" (Jean-Paul Belmondo) and "the pretty girl" (Jean Seberg) is one of the best films on DVD today. Along with the trailer and a restored high-definition transfer (approved by cinematographer Raoul Coutard), this special edition offers interviews past and present, video essays, an 80-minute documentary, a short subject, and a wealth of reading material. Disc one features interviews recorded for French television between 1960 and 1964. In his first of two appearances, Godard laments that "audiences trust me too much... simply because I made a popular film," and hopes his follow-up, Le Petit Soldat, will flop (he got his wish). Belmondo confirms that the dialogue was written on the spot, while Seberg, who died in 1979, credits Marlon Brando for inspiring her to act. The period conversations conclude with Bob le Flambeur's Jean-Pierre Melville, who describes himself as a "big brother" to the nouvelle vague filmmakers.
On the second disc, Coutard and assistant director Pierre Rissient relive the making of the movie, followed by direct cinema pioneer D.A. Pennebaker dissecting its documentary aspects. In their video essays, Mark Rappaport (From the Journals of Jean Seberg) explores the life of the actress, while writer Jonathan Rosenbaum looks at Breathless as a form of criticism. The digital extras end with 1993's Chambre 12, Hôtel de Suède, Claude Ventura's made-for-TV doc and Godard's playful short Charlotte et son Jules. The 80-page booklet contains an essay from author Dudley Andrew, a selection of Godard statements, and François Truffaut's script treatment accompanied by Godard's adaptation. As Melville states, Breathless was "a film of exceptional charm and grace." The same could be said of this lovingly compiled boxed set. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
I wasn’t sure whether to give this one two or three stars, so I gave it the benefit of the doubt. Technically I don’t think there is any innovation in “Breathless” that isn’t in... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Rick Woodward
I imagine that this was an innovative movie as far as story telling is concerned. Beyond that I found it pretentious without profundity, self involved and mastibatory.Published 1 month ago by claudio kuhn
Everyone who knows movies, knows how important Breathless is and why. A groundbreaking achievement in style and an intriguing character study. Read morePublished 1 month ago by NoOneYouKnow
50+ years later, still holds up. Godard created a timeless and often below the radar classic with breathless. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Andrew Pennington
Very disappointed. Doesn't look or feel cool or sexy like the reviews say. Maybe it did once, but if so it doesn't wear well.Published 4 months ago by Kent A. Russell
We've all seen so much of this handheld camera 'cinema verite' style since Godard made BREATHLESS that you have to remind yourself that he helped to invent it. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Barye Phillips
How could you go wrong with Jean-Paul (Beautiful World) Belmondo and Jean Seberg. Love these American actress who learn French well enough to act in it --- (Jane Fonda) --- 'throw... Read morePublished 5 months ago by annonymous