"À Bout de Souffle" (1960) is a French New Wave
film by Jean-Luc Godard
. Title in English is "Breathless".
In "Breathless" the audience is continually reminded of the manufactured, manipulative nature of film. The obtrusive use of music (not always reflecting the action in the scene), and the use of jump-cuts and 'loose' structuring prevent the viewer from ever really identifying with the story or characters. Although this style has been used countless times since the French New Wave, directors can rarely achieve the “organic” feel of Godard’s feature.
Like all New Wave films "Breathless" is an attack on the traditions of French film and its emphasis on the screenplay, instead focussing on direction. The film presents the importance of personal authorship, the vision of the director as paramount. In many ways, "Breathless" is a study of the directing process itself and its philosophical and theoretical implications. Typical of New Wave cinema, the film appropriates material from many different genres, in this case referring often to B-grade American gangster movies.
"Breathless" is a challenging film and nearly impossible to enjoy on an emotional level, but I was still able to appreciate it on an intellectual level. However, I think the shock value of the film is limited for a contemporary audience because Godard's then groundbreaking techniques can now seen in Britney Spears filmclips.