In Godard We Tryst

The 50th Anniversary of the Style-Blazing, Love-Struck Classic A Bout de Souffle

Fifty years after its release, Jean-Luc Godard’s revolutionary film A Bout de Souffle (Breathless) still lives up to its name. Setting out to make a movie “as if no one had made one before,” the director spectacularly launched the New Wave of French cinema with this tale of small-time gangster Michel Poiccard (a brooding Jean-Paul Belmondo) and his hip American girlfriend Patricia (the gamine Jean Seberg). But in reality, the plot was never the point—Godard was more interested in breaking every cinematic rule in the book. Going at the edit with scissors, overlapping or drowning out dialogue, and mixing long takes and tracking shots with hyperactive jump-cuts, the auteur gave his masterpiece a spontaneous rhythm. Not for nothing it has been described as the cinematic equivalent of jazz. Shot on the fly without permits, amid the bustle of late-50s Paris, and using the general public as unwitting participants, Godard’s genius was to turn his time and money constraints into virtues. What he lacked in polish, he made up for with attitude, and cinema was never the same again. To celebrate A Bout de Souffle's 50th birthday, the film has been restored for the first time ever, under the supervision of its cinematographer, long-time Godard collaborator Raoul Coutard. It is also receiving a fashion tribute: Rodarte sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy, ever the film buffs (their intricate CFDA award-winning collections are frequently inspired by an obsessive love of horror films and pop cultural relics), have designed two original tees inspired by the celluloid classic which can be found in London’s Dover Street Market, Colette in Paris and Barneys New York.

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Conversations (1)

  • mftrejobermejo
    A Bout de Souffle: mon film préféré de tous les temps

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