Analysis paper – Breathless

December 4th, 2010

The movie that I want to analysis is Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960) because I think this is a  “new” movie to me, its shooting skill, plot and editing are giving me a huge surprise which is just like a modern movie and I cannot imagine it belongs to 60s. Breathless was shot on hand-held camera in Paris live-action and its main feature is episodic plot, improvised dialogue, jumping editing and natural light so some people say it is a masterpiece of French New wave. Of course I’m totally agreed with that, Godard was using the most shocking technique at that time – jump cuts to express the reckless nature of Michel and Patricia.

(Natural-light, black &white cinematography)

(Excellent use of Paris live-action shooting)

Actually I love Michel and Patricia these two characters so much, I love their improvised dialogue, gesture and feature. For Michel this character, Godard was creating a unique style and feature to him. Michel postures looks like a gangster because he wants to maintain a cool face to conceal his hopelessness and I think this is a big contrast between his look and inner thoughts.  On the other hand, Michel is a simple-minded person and he just does things following his mind. For example, if he needs money then he just goes to restroom to rob somebody else and if he wants to sex with Patricia then he will keep urging her to do it in every minute. Michel also is a chain smoker and I think this is one of the features of the New Wave youthful characters so Godard put this important element in the New Wave movie. About Patricia, she is a boyish American girl whose attraction is her cool caprice and I can tell it from Patricia’s dialogue like “I don’t know if I’m unhappy because I’m not free, or if I’m free because I’m unhappy.” She is an independent woman and she wants to be free and that is the key point of New Wave Style too. I think this is the main reason for Michel loves her so much.

(Patricia’s gesture)

(Michel’s trademarks: chain-smoking, lip wipe)

My favorite part of Breathless is the final death scene of Michel. Patricia is not really sure she wants to be in love with Michel or not so she called the police to arrest him. Actually, Patricia sets a test for herself to determine that she loves Michel or not but I think her thinking is so extreme; it might be the New Wave style is just like that. Suddenly, Michel hears his friend arrives and runs outside. His friend urges him to escape, but Michel says his famous last words to the cops (This is my favor dialogue): “I’m fed up, (and he looks into the camera) I’m tired and I want to sleep.” This dialogue is completely to depict the desperation of Michel at that time about Patricia’s dispassionately betrayal. After his friend says he is nuts and Michel suddenly changes his mind and run away but the cops have just arrive and shoot him. Then the long dying scene of Michel is like the usual melodramatically, he cannons in the street and finally fall down. Meantime, Patricia arrives and Michel never dropping his omnipresent cigarette from his mouth and makes his typical faces at her and says, “You’re a real scrumbag.” And then he drops and dies. Then Patricia said, “what’s a scrumbag?” and she stares at Michel, then at the audience and imitates the trademark of Michel – lip wipe and the film is finish.

To my thinking, I love Michel this character so much even I think Jean-Paul Belmondo’s acting is exaggerated but this is exactly good match with Michel’s personality. And I think his dialogue is so meaningful which is like implying or conveying a message to an audience. The background jazz music also is a good match for the relax location as Paris and the random personality as Michel and Patricia. Natural Light shooting is a good way to bring out open-mind feeling and pop up character’s personality. At last, I think Godard is a talented director to create this never outdated masterpiece.