Breathless (1960)

I’ve developed a theory of sorts about JLG, which may or may not be right, but it goes something like this. Basically, Godard didn’t set out to be a serious artist. He was, obviously, doing things like the jump cuts, shooting all hand-held, breaking fourth wall, all of that obvious technique, but (at least early on) he was more interested in having fun with the form of cinema. But then other people started taking Godard seriously, and then he started doing the same. By now my general antipathy towards Godard should be well-enough known, and it began 21 years ago with this film, Godard’s first feature, and my own first Godard; SBS showed it one Saturday night, I watched it (having read about it in my film history books), and, yeah, it’s been mostly downhill ever since… But SBS were showing it again tonight, and so I decided I should check it out again. I did so, obviously, with a far greater knowledge of Godard’s career after this. And I think the rewatch actually kind of strengthened my opinion expressed above… he hadn’t become “Godard” yet, this isn’t him making grand statements, this is a young man who’s been a film critic and seen a lot of American films noir and decided to have a crack at making his own, infusing it with a particular flavour of late-50s Euro-cool. It still struck me as not terribly substantial, but if so it’s in a different way to something like Histoire(s) du cinéma; looking at Breathless again, I didn’t get the feeling from it that so much of Godard’s other films give me of basically being a vacuous load of empty wank posing as a serious statement. I was actually kind of happy to see this again, there was a markedly greater air of freshness to it than some of his later work that I’ve seen…

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