Jean-Paul Belmondo was one of the most successful actors in France in the 1960s. Women adored him as a sex symbol. He appeared in many films as a sly shrew or a tough guy. But his breakthrough came with the role of Michel. He is a failed gangster who seeks help from a woman and a way out with her. In the process, he gets completely Breathless.
A BREATHLESS STORY
Bon vivant Michel Poiccard (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is a crook, rebel, and daredevil in pursuit of his pleasure. He is on his way to Paris in a stolen luxury limousine.
But he gets caught in a speed check. A policeman confronts him, and Michel shoots him cold-blooded. On the run from the law, he goes into hiding with Patricia (Jean Seberg). The beautiful young woman is a newspaper saleswoman who wants to become a journalist.
He tries to raise money to flee to Italy together. But the police’s dragnet gets tighter and tighter. Patricia is interrogated. She has to decide, for her career or for love.
A CLASSIC OF THE NOUVELLE VAGUE
What was originally intended before production began as an artistic homage to American film „Noir” evolved into something entirely original and completely new.
Director Jean-Luc Godard used a completely new visual language, also because of the low budget. The film was shot with available light to save the cost of expensive lighting sets. Filming was also done with a handheld camera, among other things. The result is incredibly authentic and timeless images.
Pictures: © STUDIOCANAL
GODARD’S JUMP CUT
Additionally, Godard made the so-called jump cut a special trademark of the Nouvelle Vague (New Wave). This film editing technique deliberately violates the continuity rules that otherwise apply. These usually ensure that every cut fits together perfectly in its coherence.
As a rule, several takes (shots) and settings (perspectives) are necessary for a complete scene. If the light changes, you don’t pay attention to the clock on the wall or the beer foam in the glass, the transition from one scene to the next will be different. If the viewer takes notice of these differences, it could be confusing or even amusing. Therefore, it is the job of cutters and their assistants to generally avoid these connection errors.
The jump cut, however, plays precisely with the effect of irritation. Godard specifically used it for the very first time in Breathless. Thus, it has established itself as a stylistic standard to this day.
The famous cabriolet scene with Jean Seberg is a prime example of this. It transfers the confusion and uncertainty of the protagonists directly to the audience. By doing so, it manages to completely captivate the viewers. The contrasting dialogue scenes also play an important role.