Breathless (1960, Jean-Luc Godard)

It’s the 50th anniversary of Breathless! It’s also the 50th anniversary of Peeping Tom and Corman’s Little Shop of Horrors, but you don’t see anyone making a fuss over those. It’s also the 50th anniversary of writer Truffaut’s other movie about doomed small-time criminals, Shoot the Piano Player. I don’t know which of the two I prefer. StPP has more indelible images, but Breathless is all about motion, with its jazzy editing. Feels like a story that got away from them, a two hour script filmed as a four-hour feature, then mercilessly reduced to 90 minutes.

I didn’t remember the story very well – not that there’s much story to worry about. Belmondo is an incorrigible cad, stealing from everyone he comes across, and Seberg is the conflicted girl who becomes his downfall, reporting him for having killed a cop at the start of the film. He stops to meet with friends (always trying to get money) and she stops to interview a writer (I think) played by Jean-Pierre Melville, part of her ambition to climb from street newspaper-seller to reporter, while a police inspector is always close behind them both.

Good to see on the big screen, a highly enjoyable classic-film experience. Nice to hear from the DVD interviews that just a couple years after Breathless came out, Godard was already talking about the end of cinema – it’s not a recent thing with him.

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