Director Jean-Luc Godard had nothing to do with the 50th anniversary restoration of his debut feature, Breathless (a.k.a. À bout de souffle) (4 screens), which just goes to show how badass he is. He made one of the most astonishing, groundbreaking, game-changing debuts in movie history, but he has moved on. To go back and pat himself on the back for this old achievement would be in direct opposition to everything he stands for. Instead, the cinematographer Raoul Coutard has supervised the restoration, and the quality is supposed to be so awesome that even the most hardened critics are gibbering and going nuts. I haven't seen the new print yet, but I have seen the film many times, and it very much deserves any kind of accolades it gets.

Everyone has heard by now that Breathless "invented" the jump-cut and that MTV used all of its innovations and ran them into the ground. The truth is that it's still as much a cool movie as it is a "great" movie, perhaps the equivalent of something like On the Road in literature. It still works. It still stands up to everything that's craven and ordinary about movies. It's dedicated to Monogram Pictures, an ultra low-budget studio best known for the Charlie Chan films, the Bowery Boys films, and the Cisco Kid films. It plays a bit like a "B" movie, with Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) on the run from the cops and bringing a girlfriend, Patricia (Jean Seberg) into his troubles. But at the same time, Godard is not in the least interested in things like suspense, plot, character development or redemption. Thank goodness.
categories Columns, Cinematical