2nd Film Analysis

“Breathless” also known as “A Bout de Soufflé” created by Jean-Luc Godard in the year of 1960 is a great example of a French New Wave film (nouvelle vague). Godard himself was a Cahiers du Cinema director. Directors like Godard accentuate on the actual methods used in the film instead of the plot. In Breathless, the plot is literally forgotten throughout most of the film.

Many characteristics of the French New Wave film movement are used in this film. The film in general used direct addressing of the camera, where the character spoke directly at the camera as if he or she was speaking to the viewer. Self-reflexivity is a characteristic of the movement as well, as there were a lot of references to other films or characters in other films in this film. There was a significant use of elliptical editing. Obviously for the film was on a very low-budget, a lot of the narration and scenes had to be shortened. Something that would take a very long time in reality would be cut into a very short time on-screen. Realism is being murdered in this film.

Speaking of murder let’s not forget the plot of this film, or are we suppose to forget it at points? The final scene of the movie brings an end to the plot. The male lead is being chased by the cops. He gets shot by the police and dies. It sounds like a traditional film that you would see in the present. The bad guy dies, that’s so typical. Let’s not forget that we have to focus on the actual methods of the film though. Now this changes everything.

Godard is most famous for his jump cuts and the final scene has aplenty to spare. There’s a count of twelve jump cuts within a span of around three and a half minutes. The cuts are mainly switching from the female lead back to the male lead over and over. Godard had to cut the timing of his originally lengthy film and used jump cuts to help him shorten the length of the film to stay on-budget.

Shots varied in this final scene. Wide shots were used when Michel was running away from the cops followed by a jump cut. These wide shots were usually followed by medium shots of Patricia running towards Michel, and these shots were taken from the front while Michel’s wide shots which were taken from the back. Most of these shots lasted for only a few seconds. The last part of this scene consisted of a bunch of close-up shots with a lot of jump cuts, of course. This part was when Michel was about to die on the floor. The camera would close-up on Patricia’s face and then back to Michel’s face. These shots were a little longer than the previous shots.

This scene used direct sound which is another characteristic of the French new wave movement. Most of the sounds appeared to be recorded at the same time as the scene. The background music during the chase used a lot of instruments and it had very loud orchestrated music. This is typical music you would hear in a gangster film. The sound had a hint of comedy though it demonstrated the dramatic effect required and expected for this type of scene.

The success of the new wave movement probably gave great support for political change and the revolution during the 1960’s. Overall, Godard used many characteristics of the French new wave movement and he proved himself to be a Cahiers du Cinema director.


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