Breathless Release Date: May 28, 2010

Like Francois Truffaut’s The 400 Blows and Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima, Mon Amour (both 1960), this French existential thriller had worldwide resonance. Film critic turned director Jean Luc Godard told his tale of a car thief and cop killer trying to get back together with his American expatriate girlfriend with a speed and looseness that made most Hollywood films of the era seem stodgy. Even a conservative critic like the New York Times’s Bosley Crowther, who dubbed the film’s visual style “pictorial cacophony,” had to concede that “Breathless” captured the hip detachment of young people on the verge of rebellion. It caught that spirit so well it made international stars of Jean Paul Belmondo (who introduces the film) and American actress Jean Seberg. Godard, with François Truffaut, who originated the story for the film, reinvented cinema by drawing on its past. The film is dedicated to the B-movie studio Monogram Pictures, while Belmondo’s character self-consciously apes Humphrey Bogart’s image as a hip rebel. But “Breathless” also pointed the way to more improvisatory films of the future like Bonnie and Clyde and Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H. With its dazzling handheld camera work by Raoul Coutard, natural lighting and jump cuts (an afterthought created when Godard decided to shorten the film by cutting footage out of almost every scene), “Breathless” taught people to look at cinema in a whole new way, and has had a lasting influence on later filmmakers.

Genres: Drama
Directed By: Philippa LangdaleMarek LoseyPaul Unwin
Studio: Rialto