main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Film: Breathless
Breathless is a 1960 film directed by Jean-Luc Godard, in his feature filmmaking debut. Its original French title is "└ bout de souffle" which translates literally to "at breath's end" with the general meaning being "out of breath." Along with Franšois Truffaut's The 400 Blows and Alain Resnais' Hiroshima, Mon Amour, it gained attention for the French New Wave.

The basic plot is fairly simple, seasoned by Godard with pop-cultural meta-commentary and Paris travelogue. Petty criminal Michel steals a car and, seeing that a policeman is following him on motorcycle, shoots said cop. He then flees to Paris and hides out with his American girlfriend. Eventually after she learns that he is a fugitive, she turns him in to the police. After a chase through the city on foot, he is shot and killed.

Breathless made an international star of former boxer Jean-Paul Belmondo and raised the profile of Jean Seberg, whose Hollywood career had stalled when she starred in the big budget flop Saint Joan.

A remake was done in The Eighties starring Richard Gere.

Tropes associated with Breathless include:

  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Godard doesn't go as crazy with it here as much as in later films like Le Weekend, but Michel frequently talks to the camera/audience.
  • Creator Cameo: Godard shows up briefly as an informant.
  • Foreign Remake : Was remade in 1983 into an American film starring Richard Gere. Not well known but not bad.
  • The Ingenue: The last image of the film is of the girl looking into the camera and saying, innocently, "What does it mean, 'disgusting'?" (She's speaking in French, which is not her first language.)
  • Jump Cut: The movie helped popularize them. However, they weren't done because of stylistic choice as much as the fact that Goddard neded to shorten the picture, so he got rid of frames randomly. Or so he claimed.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: This being a Godard work, this movie's filled with them. Michel and his girl talk about the most random things, even when in bed....
  • Smoking Is Cool: Michel clearly thinks so, although some viewers may be put off by the detail with which burning cigarettes are shown, ashes and all. Godard himself believed in this as did most people in France then.
  • Suicide by Cop: Arguable case. Michel kills a policeman and resists arrest, so his death isn't unpredictable.
  • Villain Protagonist: Michel.
Federico FelliniSchool Study MediaStanley Kubrick
Black OrpheusFrench FilmsBrotherhood of the Wolf
The Passion of Joan of ArcWebsite/They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?Singin' in the Rain
Bonnie and ClydeRoger Ebert Great Movies ListBride of Frankenstein
A Boy and His DogDanny Peary Cult Movies ListBride of Frankenstein
Black SundayFilms of the 1960sDinosaurus
Touch of EvilFilm NoirBrainstorm
Breaking The WavesCreator/The Criterion CollectionBrief Encounter

alternative title(s): Breathless
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy