1001 Flicks

Regularly updated blog charting the most important films of the last 104 years.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

348. A Bout de Souffle (Breathless) (1959)

Directed By Jean Luc-Godard


A soufflé, if sweet or savoury is never determined, kills a cop. He also has shagged, and spends de rest of de film trying to regain pant-admission, an annoying American rich girl. This film is about de soufflé. In de end it deflates, never poke holes in de Soufflé, the moral of it is eventually all soufflés deflate, no matter how good a cook you are. Think about it.


This is a film I am very ambivalent about. On the one hand I really admire the technical innovation of the use of sound and hand-held as well as some great jarring cuts. I also admire the fact that it is quite irreverent when it comes to the dialogue, it shows people in bed, breasts, urinals, toilets, all of that. The characters are believable and the acting is great. Technically it is therefore an accomplishment. Bravo.

Now! On the other hand, both the characters are fucking annoying. He is an asshole, in fact he says so in the first line of the film, a murderer and thinks of little more than sex and money. She is a spoiled, selfish,tourist girl who is a pretentious nitwit who likes bad boys but also wants them to be able to appreciate William Faulkner.

The film also seems to be filled with a stench of misogynism throughout.Something which would be quite adequate for Godard as he was a prime misogynist himself. Actually from interviews of Godard I've seen it is the writer she interviews that most reminds me of him. So a mix between admiration and disgust, I suppose it succeeds in eliciting a reaction.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

Breathless makes numerous references to films. Michel's constant lip-rubbing is a direct homage to Humphrey Bogart, a poster of whom Michel gazes at in one scene and says, "Bogie". Moreover, Patricia comments on Michel's similarity to Bogart when she tells him that he is only an image and should say more about himself.

The film includes additional references to many other films. In one scene, "Bob Montagne" is mentioned, an apparent reference to the proto-New Wave film Bob le Flambeur (1955), the title character of which shares the same name. A few American film posters are seen in the streets, including Humphrey Bogart's The Harder They Fall and Ten Seconds to Hell with Jack Palance (who would later work with Godard on Contempt). Michel and Patricia also attend a screening of Budd Boetticher's Westbound and she sneaks into a theatre showing Preminger's film noir, Whirlpool (1949) with Gene Tierney.

The film also makes reference to Godard's work as a critic for Cahiers du Cinéma: a woman (uncredited) attempts to sell a copy of Cahiers to Michel on the street, saying "Monsieur, do you support youth?" He angrily refuses, saying "No, I prefer the old."
According to Barbet Schroeder, Godard's original title for the film was Moi, un blanc ("Me, a white man"). This was in response to a 1958 film by Jean Rouch, entitled Moi, un noir ("Me, a black man").



  • At 6:20 PM, Blogger Tom Meade said…

    I've only seen a few Godard films, but I generally found them more "interesting" than "enjoyable". I'm not sure why, although someone did once point out that so much of what he was about in his early career involving deconstructing traditional cinema and that, given forty odd years, that sort of thing is not really dazzling in and of itself. I did really like Weekend, though.


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