Breathless (A bout de souffle)

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard, 1959

Written by Jean-Luc Godard


Consider the many ways in which the film plays with, comments upon, and violates Hollywood conventions, in terms of genre, plot, character, mise-en-scene, editing, and overall style. What is accomplished by all these references and deviations? What is Godard's attitude towards Hollywood film, and towards the vexed question of how film relates to reality? To what extent are Godard's innovations negative (in that they work merely to surprise us, by violating expectations), and to what extent are the also positive (in that they work to create new structures of meaning and feeling)?

What do you make of all the film's digressions (such as the news conference at Orly)?

How does the film reflect the time and place in which it was made (France at the end of the 1950s)? To what extent does it seem dated today? What (if anything) about it still seems fresh and 'modern'?

Where do our sympathies and points of identification lie in this film? With Michel or Patricia? With nobody? What is the point of view of the narration, and of the camera?