In 1961, Jean-Luc Godard, a master of French new wave, released A bout de Soufflé (Breathless). A young man named Michel Poiccard (Jean-Paul Belmondo) kills a police officer and then flees away into the city where he meets up with Patricia Franchini (Jean Seberg). Michel hides from the police with Patricia, but fate catches up with him as the fire fuels in the fatal but beautiful ending.
This French film has influenced many of today’s greatest filmmakers, artists, and countless other aesthetics. It is a tale dealing with love, youth, and beyond anything a beauty so acutely defined by Godard.
One of the most important elements that should be noted in this film is the simple idea of “all or nothing” and how love falls within this spectrum. This theme is numerously supported by underlying visuals, dialogue, and gestures. Director Jean-Pierre Melville (Le Samouraï, L’ Armée des ombres) plays a small role in this film but, what he has to say is immensely powerful. Patricia, the young reporter, asks him a very interesting inquiry,
“What is your greatest Ambition in Life?” Melville responds back with this profound statement, “To become immortal and the die.” This can be interpreted in many different ways. One interpretation would consider that it is simply a contradiction and means nothing. Secondly, it can reflect the idea of choice. To have the power to die willing reflects complete control. On the other hand, to have no control simply means to have absolutely nothing…hence “to have all or nothing.”
Overall, A bout de Soufflé is a beautiful movie that anyone should consider watching. It is a foreign classic that still remains an astonishing movie. While other films will gradually disappear À bout de Souffle will remain as it has already remained throughout these years.
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard, Starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Daniel Boulanger, and Jean-Pierre Melville
Other Related films to consider:
Contempt by Jean-Luc Godard
Bande à part by Jean-Luc Godard
A Woman Is a Woman Starring Jean-Paul Belmondo
Saint Joan starring Jean Seberg
The Mouse that Roared starring Jean Seberg