Breathless (A Bout De Souffle) – France 1959: New Wave Noir

Breathless (A Bout De Souffle) - France 1959: New Wave Noir

This iconoclastic debut by the French New Wave pioneer, Jean Luc Godard, has been re-released on a 2 disc DVD set with a new HD digital transfer from Criterion. The transfer has been supervised by the original director of photography of Breathless, Raoul Coutard. In the words of Amazon contributor, Jonathan E. Haynes “jehaynes” (Berkeley, CA): “With Coutard involved in Criterion’s issue, the film has undoubtedly been restored to some of its original, shocking, ragged beauty”.

The second disc includes archival interviews with the director and Jean-Paul Belmondo, who plays the young punk with noir affectations. Jean Seberg is perfect as the young American student in Paris ‘living dangerously’.

Breathless (A Bout De Souffle) - France 1959: New Wave Noir

Australian critic, Adrian Martin in 2004: “there is a semblance of a thriller plot complete with a betrayal, tailing cops, and a final shootout… but the subtle, formal pleasures of Breathless have yet to be fully appreciated. Whether through accident or design, Godard’s low-budget on-the-fly shooting style produced remarkable innovations.”

Forget about Tarantino, Godard is the genuine originator of (Martin again) “the mixture of loose gangster-crime plot, a smart attitude, and a hip array of high and low culture citations… and there is an insolent mildly outrageous rap pouring from Belmondo’s punk motormouth, but even that scarcely contradicts the Chandler-Hammett-Spillane tradition of hard-boiled talk.” (1001 Movies)

The original film noir jazz score by Martial Solal is available on CD:

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