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"Breathless", did anyone like this film?


FredCDobbs
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I found it boring. This is the type of film that used to show in "Art" theaters in the US in the early 1960s.

 

A lot of us young modern people didn't really care for most American movies being made at that time.

 

Back then, I watched a lot of old movies on TV and a few films at the "Art" theaters. They were usually French or Italian films. I liked the Italian films better than the French ones. I liked the neo-realism of the Italian films but not the new-wave of the French ones. Occaionally, independent and low-budget American films would be shown at the Art theaters.

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Breathless looks less impressive if one measures it as if it were the films it mimics - American crime dramas - even though its surface pleasures are quite apparent.

 

It's really an extension of Godard's criticism. In the 60s, Godard alternated between free-form films like Breathless and Pierrot le Fou, were very personal thoughts about Godard's philosophy and life are being wrung out, and highly formal and structured films like Une Femme Mariee and Vivre sa Vie, where Godard's perception of the world begins to develop (not a hard divide; the qualities of both frequently intermingle.) Breathless is grappling with the concept of artistic freedom and traditional formalism; Belmondo, Godard's surrogate, a vision of anarchic expression, new and unformed, is brought down by Seberg, who endorses the traditional figures of art, as seen in the long apartment scene - Faulkner, Pierre-August Renoir, Mozart, American Cinema. So, by the popular reputation one might think Godard is celebrating the former and condeming the latter - not true. Seberg may ultimately have turned Belmondo in...but it's actually Godard, in a small cameo, who gets the ball rolling by pointing out his own surrogate to the police. This philosophical dilemma is at the basis of almost all of Godard's work (Godard was, and in some ways still is, culturally conservative...at least as far as the function of art goes.)

 

But it's easy to understand why that might not be very interesting to a lot of people. That said, these guys, particularly Godard, weren't just making individual works - each film is like an article he would have written in the 50s; ideas are expressed and explored but later films will qualify and expand on them.

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Well I liked it. Quite frankly, I think Breathless is the best movie of 1960. It's so alive and spontanoeus, not boring at all. Why anyone would think Lancaster's performance in Elmer Gantry is better than this escapes me. And as for Inherit the Wind it's an attempt to provide a debate written and directed by a thoroughly second rate mind.

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skimpole wrote:...And as for Inherit the Wind it's an attempt to provide a debate written and directed by a thoroughly second rate mind.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Yep, MAYBE skim ol' buddy, BUT that final scene in it and the dialogue between Tracy's Henry Drummond and Kelly's E.K. Hornbeck will ALWAYS move this puppy UP to FIRST rate status, dude!

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Well I liked it. Quite frankly, I think Breathless is the best movie of 1960. It's so alive and spontanoeus, not boring at all. Why anyone would think Lancaster's performance in Elmer Gantry is better than this escapes me. And as for Inherit the Wind it's an attempt to provide a debate written and directed by a thoroughly second rate mind.

 

Apples and oranges. Breathless wins on atmosphere, and Lancaster beats Belmondo in his portrayal of a BS artist. I agree that both of them are better than Inherit The Wind, but there are plenty of New Wave films better than Breathless, and few Hollywood films of that period better than Elmer Gantry. It's all relative.

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I like BREATHLESS well enough, but it seems dated. I often have this reaction to films that were considered groundbreaking in their time, from INTOLERANCE to THE NAKED CITY. To their original audiences they seemed new and fresh, but that's just what they don't seem now. The kind of anarchist cool doesn't especially appeal to me, though I like Belmondo all right and am a big fan of Jean Seberg.

 

 

 

Critics at the time were struck by the scene where the camera stays fixed on the car while the character goes to talk in a conversation we don't hear. Nowadays, since more of us have seen GUN CRAZY, as Godard had, we're likelier to say, "Oh, that's like the bank robbery in GUN CRAZY." GUN CRAZY feels much fresher and more alive than BREATHLESS, as far as I'm concerned.

 

Edited by: kingrat on Nov 9, 2012 4:05 PM

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I know I'm not imagining this, but i didn't see any credits at the beginning of the movie, and when the movie ended so abruptly, with Jean Seberg turning her head, to a sudden cut of the TCM holiday season promo, just before Robert & guest host came back on, that there were no end credits either...

Just like the movie was created out of thin air with no director, producer, writer, or actor credits, no end music, no nothing! zippo...

Did anybody else catch that?

 

It kinda annoyed me because I'm one of those weirdo's that actually enjoys reading those credits, and recapping them in the end with exit music, along with whatever other information I can pick up on the film.

This time I got neither, not in the beginning, or the end.

Surely the original movie had credits? Did TCM deliberately cut them out... What's going on?

I've seen this happen far too many times of late.

 

 

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I didn't see any credits either. Maybe that was part of the director's style??

 

I didn't care much for the film. It didn't have much of a story. It just had a modern young couple talking about modern young stuff. I guess that was new to French Cinema. All the hand-held camera shots irritated me because they made me aware of the cameraman, and thus, I always knew the young couple were with a third person all the time, who was the guy wiggling the camera. :)

 

I liked the original version of El Mariachi (1992) better. It was a new-wave Mexican film, made nearly entirely with a hand-held wind-up camera, and just one or two lights. I think Columbia Pictures financed the director to make a better-quality version of it, but I never saw that second version.

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>GUN CRAZY feels much fresher and more alive than BREATHLESS, as far as I'm concerned.

 

I agree with that, and GUN CRAZY was far more realistic to me, and I think it could have been called new-wave for American cinema. For example, the shooting of the policeman in BREATHLESS seemed like it was done for no reason, and the photography of it and editing was not very good. But the shootings in GUN CRAZY seemed realistic and well photographed and edited.

 

That drive to the bank scene in GUN CRAZY was outstanding, and the actors seemed to be really talking about the real un-staged natural traffic. Also, all the camera shots were done on a tripod, so I had no feeling there was a cameraman present. Even if a camera moves or pans, if it is on a tripod the audience most often has a feeling that's their own eyes doing the moving and panning. But when a camera wiggles in every scene, then the audience becomes aware that someone is holding the camera and causing it to wiggle.

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Gun Crazy vs. Breathless - Again, one can legitimately have a preference for either film and its style or form but you can't analyze Breathless as if it were Gun Crazy. Breathless uses that type of film as a model but it's not a classical style film.

 

I forget who said it (probably Godard) but they observed correctly that there was a greater freedom in cinema during the silent era and that they (the Cahiers du Cinema group) wanted to revert to its rules - the techniques are just techniques and they don't have to function the way they'd been rigged to since the 1920s. They'd agree that the "invisible style" of classicism is absolutely worthy but there's no legitimate reason to follow only one such form (why on earth would people restrict themselves in such a way?)

 

In terms of novels, the difference here is between Arthur Conan Doyle and James Joyce - it would be completely ridiculous to criticize Joyce for not doing what Doyle does. We seem conscious of this fact for most arts but for some reason film just can't get away from it.

 

But I tire of talking about Breathless; like many things, it has been blown out of proportion. It's a wonderful keystone in a brilliant career but nearly everything Godard did in the 60s and beyond is better. Like Rules of the Game, Citizen Kane, Sunrise, etc., we don't really consider this "THE BEST!!!!!!!!" - like those films it has become facile critical shorthand for people who like to make lists.

 

Godard films that TCM should show, stat! - Pierrot le Fou (1965), Sauve qui peut (la vie) (1979), King Lear (1987), Germany Year 90 Nine Zero (1990), Eloge de l'amour (2001).

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