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A petty criminal, wanted for the murder of a police officer, returns to Paris where he meets an American girl who hawks newspapers. They become lovers, but eventually the police pressure her into betraying him and revealing his whereabouts.
For more about Breathless and the Breathless Blu-ray release, see Breathless Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on September 16, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Writers: Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut
Starring: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Daniel Boulanger, Henri-Jacques Huet, Roger Hanin, Jean-Pierre Melville
» See full cast & crew
Breathless Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, September 16, 2010
Winner of Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, Jean-Luc Godard's "A bout de souffle" a.k.a "Breathless" (1960) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Optimum Home Entertainment. The supplemental features on the disc include an introduction by film critic and Godard expert Colin McCabe; "Godard, Made in USA", a documentary by Luc Lagier; "Room 12, Hotel de suede", a documentary by director and popular French television host Claude Venture; photo gallery; posters; and more. The disc also arrives with a 20-page illustrated booklet. In French, with optional English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Japanese, and Turkish subtitles for the main feature. Region A/B "locked".
Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless is the film that changed everything – perceptions, expectations, the way movies were made. After it, Cinema was no longer the same. The rules were broken. Or to be perfectly clear, there were no more rules to be followed.
Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo, Pierrot le fou), a tough looking criminal who worships Humphrey Bogart, steals a car, kills a cop, and heads to Paris where he meets Patricia Franchini (Jean Seberg, Bonjour tristesse), a beautiful American girl who sells the Herald Tribune in the Champs-Elysees. He falls in love with her and asks that she comes with him to Rome.
While Patricia is trying to make up her mind, Michel wanders around Paris, meeting people who own him money. Occasionally, he also steals from people who do not own him anything. Patricia follows him around, clueless about his dealings.
Michel smokes a lot but Patricia does not mind. The two spend plenty of time together talking about love, money, and happiness. Occasionally, they also make love. When Patricia works, Michel runs around stealing. Then they meet again, talk and make love.
The cops begin looking for Michel. They also question Patricia. She wants to stay with Michel but eventually realizes that there is no future for the two of them. After spending the night with Michel in a chic private photo studio, Patricia calls the cops to let them know where her lover is hiding.
Arguably the most influential of the Nouvelle Vague films, Breathless is brash, raw, and unpretentious yet remarkably elegant piece of cinema. It is hilarious, at times offensive, and though suggesting otherwise incredibly serious about everything it shows. It is the coolest film ever made.
Godard's great innovation lies in the distinctive camerawork - jump cuts, fast zooms, and unusual close-ups - and unorthodox treatment of his characters. The plot of Breathless is hardly original but observing Michel and Patricia is fascinating; time and space are handled in a unique manner creating something that could be best described as a sense of three-dimensionality.
Then there is the sense of freedom that permeates Breathless. The improvisations are wild and strange but also rejuvenating. Many of the lines Michel and Patricia utter make little sense but it is incredibly easy to tell what is on their minds. He wants to love her. She wants to be loved. That is all that matters. That is the whole story Breathless tells.
Godard dedicated Breathless to Monogram Pictures, the famous Hollywood studio that specialized in the production of B-movies, in an attempt to prove that interesting films do not have to be expensive films. He was assisted by legendary cinematographer Raoul Coutard, who collaborated with the French director on many of his most renowned films, including Une femme est une femme (1961), Vivre sa vie: Film en douze tableaux (1962), Le mepris (1963), Bande a part (1964), Pierrot le fou (1965), 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle (1967), etc.
In 1960, Breathless won Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. In 1961, the film won the Critics Award for Best Film granted by the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics.
Breathless Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Optimum Home Entertainment.
The following message is included on this Blu-ray disc:
"This high-definition Blu-ray involved a large amount of 2K restoration work. Director of photography Raoul Coultard supervised the color timing. Frames had disappeared from certain shots in the film and could not be replaced using current techniques."
This high-definition transfer is not identical to the one used by Criterion for their Blu-ray release of Breathless. Still, it is a very strong one. Generally speaking, fine object detail is very good and clarity levels pleasing. Compared to the Criterion release, the outdoor scenes tend to have a slightly rougher look - they appear brighter and occasionally noisier. The grain is also more prominent. On the Criterion release everything looks slightly darker, toned down and better balanced; some of the indoor scenes, however, are also not as detailed as they are on this release. The close-ups are very pleasing on both releases. Once again, I noticed traces of mild edge-enhancement; macroblocking, however, is not an issue of concern. The color-scheme does not disappoint; blacks are rich and well saturated while whites and grays look fresh and unmanipulated. Finally, there are no serious stability issues. I also did not see any large cuts, marks, stains, or debris to report in this review. (Note: This Blu-ray disc is Region A and B "locked". Therefore, if you reside in a territory covered by one of these two regions you will be able to play it on your PS3s or SAs. Please note that there is no problematic PAL or 1080/50i content preceding the disc's main menu. For the record, the main menu can be set in one of the following languages: German, Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, English, and Japanese).
Breathless Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are three audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (Mono), German DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (Mono), and Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (Mono). For the record, Optimum Home Entertainment have provided optional English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Japanese, and Turkish subtitles for the main feature. (Please note that some of the English dialog in the film - such as the English dialog from Patricia's lunch meeting - has embedded French subtitles).
The French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is very pleasing. As far as I am concerned, its dynamic amplitude is identical to that of the French LPCM 1.0 track from the Criterion Blu-ray release of Breathless. Once again, there is sporadic mild background noise that I was able to hear, but it is well within the limitations a film of this age is likely to possess. Lastly, there are no serious balance issues with Martial Solal's music score. I also did not detect any annoying pops, cracks, hissings, or audio dropouts to report in this review.
Breathless Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note: All of the supplemental features on this Blu-ray disc are encoded in either 480/60i or 1080p. Therefore, they are perfectly playable on North American PS3s and SAs.
Introduction - film critic and Godard expert Colin McCabe introduces Breathless and points out what makes it such an important and unique film. In English, with optional French, Dutch, German, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish subtitles. (5 min, 480/60i).
Godard, Made in USA - a wonderful documentary by Luc Lagier focusing on Jean-Luc Godard's career as a filmmaker, his love/hate relationship with American cinema, the production history of Breathless, the impact the film had on other directors, etc. In French, with optional English, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and German subtitles. (51 min, 1080p).
Room 12. Hotel de suede - a lengthy documentary, from 1993, in which director and popular French television host Claude Venture interviews different people who were involved with the production of Breathless. Amongst the interviewees are director Claude Chabrol, Jean-Paul Belmondo, cinematographer Raoul Coutard, assistant director Pierre Rissient, editor Cecile Decugis, etc. In French, with optional English, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and German subtitles. (79 min, 480/60i).
Jean-Luc according to Luc - Luc Moullet, long-term friend and Godard connoisseur, discusses the legendary French director's work. In French, with optional English, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and German subtitles. (8 min, 480/60i).
Photo gallery - a selection of photographs taken by Raymond Cauchetier during the filming of Breathless. (1080p).
Trailer - the original French theatrical trailer for the film. In French, with optional English and German subtitles. (3 min, 480/60i).
Posters - a collection of posters for Breathless from Belgium, Finland, Italy, and Germany. (1080p).
BD Live functionality -
Booklet - 20-page illustrated booklet.
Breathless Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
British distributors Optimum Home Entertainment have put together a strong package for Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless, and I tend to like it a bit more than the one Criterion released earlier this week. The film looks rougher and slightly nosier here while on the Criterion release it looks marginally darker and better balanced. I think that the rougher look is more appropriate, but I am sure plenty of people would disagree with me. Either way, we have two strong releases of this terrific film now so choose the one whose look you prefer. Keep in mind, however, that the two releases have different supplemental features. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Breathless Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Studio Canal September Wave Detailed - August 13, 2010
Confirming earlier reports, Optimum Home Entertainment has announced seven titles for Blu-ray release in the UK on September 13 as part of the Studio Canal Collection: Breathless (À bout de soufflé, Jean-Luc Godard, 1960); Le cercle rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville, ...
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