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BREATHLESS

Director: JEAN-LUC GODARD

FRANCE • 1959 • SUBTITLED • BLACK AND WHITE • 35MM • 90 MIN


Made on a small budget and developed from a story by François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard’s debut feature caused a sensation and became the Citizen Kane of nouvelle vague movies. Its combination of hip philosophising, glib humour and sexy young stars announced the arrival of a new kind of cinema that was personal, radical and fun. It put a modern spin on familiar B-movie material. Jean-Paul Belmondo’s Michel is a wayward criminal on the run who models himself on Humphrey Bogart and strikes up a relationship with Patricia (Jean Seberg), an amoral young American student in Paris. Godard plays with the conventions of the thriller and the film noir to paradoxical effect: Belmondo’s mocking gestures may or may not conceal real emotions, just as his criminality could represent either an anarchic personality or a genuine rebellion against society. Godard’s real achievement has to do with the way in which he sets up a confrontation between notions of rebellion and conformity, and how this conflict finds expression in every aspect of the film’s construction, including its famous jump-cuts.

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