Breathless by Jean-Luc Godard (1960)

A young punk, Michel Poiccard, steals a car in Marseilles to drive to Paris, where he wants to pick up some money owed to him from some shady deal. He also hopes to hook up again with a young American student, Patricia Franchini, with whom he has fallen in love during a brief tryst in Nice. He wants to convince her to go to Italy with him. Chased by some motorcycle policemen because he passed illegally, he shoots and kills one of them and flees on foot into the countryside. Arriving the next morning in Paris, he steals some money from a former girlfriend and then goes to see Patricia, who is selling the New York Herald Tribune on the Champs-Elysées. Later, in a travel agency, he finds the friend who has been holding his money for him (Tolmatchoff), but he can’t cash the check because it can only be deposited in a bank account. He has to contact another friend, Antonio Berruti, who will be able to cash the check for him.

While waiting, he finds Patricia again and tries to convince her to spend the night with him. She leaves him to go meet a journalist who has promised to help her learn the trade. The next morning, when Patricia comes back to her hotel room, she finds Michel in her bed, where he slept the previous night. They play out a long scene in the room before finally making love. In the afternoon Michel drives Patricia to the Orly airport, where she joins other reporters in an interview of a novelist, Parvulesco.

Meanwhile, the Parisian police inspector Vital is hot on the trail of Michel, who has been quickly identified as the cop-killer - which Michel learns in reading the newspaper headlines. The police question Patricia and threaten to create trouble for her with her residency card if she is not cooperative, after which they tail her on the Champs-Elysées through a huge crowd watching a parade. Michel and Patricia manage to lose the police, then go to the movies, steal a car in a parking garage, and finally find Berruti that evening in the Montparnasse quarter of Paris. They spend the night in the studio apartment of a friend’s mistress while Michel waits for Berruti to bring the money the following morning. Early in the morning, Patricia calls the police to tell them where Michel is hiding. Michel is shot down in the street by Inspector Vital as he tries to run off.

  Excerpt 1 :
The beginning of the film, at the Old Port of Marseilles; Michel’s character (1’24”).

  Excerpt 2 : Michel driving the stolen car; the murder of the motorcycle policeman ; quick cutting, continuity questions (3’00’’).

  Excerpt 3 : Michel and Patricia on the Champs-Elysées; Patricia runs across the street and kisses Michel (long aerial down shot); close-up of the cinema poster (“Live dangerously to the end”); girl selling the Cahiers du cinéma; death of the pedestrian in the street; the newspaper (2’32’’).

  Excerpt 4 : Michel meets Tolmatchoff at the travel agency; long sequence shot (2’37’).

  Excerpt 5 : Michel standing in front of the poster of the film starring Bogart; thumb across the lips gesture; iris out, then iris in (1’06”).

  Excerpt 6 : Patricia in the convertible with Michel: Michel’s voice-over and a series of jump cuts between shots of the back of Patricia’s head and neck (0’30”).

  Excerpt 7 : Patricia’s dark thoughts; the newspaperman tells his story about the girl he was supposed to sleep with; series of jump cuts (0’31”).

  Excerpt 8 : Michel and Patricia together in her room (the camera work, posters, dialogue); the theme of death (4’29”).

  Excerpt 9 : Michel and the informer in front of the Herald Tribune office, the headlines; the role of Godard in the film (1’02”).

  Excerpt 10: The parade on the Champs-Elysées; Patricia tailed by a policeman, who is tailed by Michel ; escape through cinema (1’52”).

  Excerpt 11: The denouement on the rue Campagne-Première; Michel’s death (3’27”).

Excerpts ©Studio Canal Image, 1, place du Spectacle, 92863 Issy-Les-Moulineaux