Breathless (1960)

 ●  French ● 1 hr 30 mins

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Michel Poiccard, an irresponsible sociopath and small-time thief, steals a car and impulsively murders the motorcycle policeman who pursues him. Now wanted by the authorities, he renews his relationship with Patricia Franchini, a hip American girl studying journalism at the Sorbonne, whom he had met in Nice a few weeks earlier. Before leaving Paris, he plans to collect a debt from an underworld acquaintance and expects her to accompany him on his planned getaway to Italy. Even with his face in the local papers and media, Poiccard seems oblivious to the dragnet that is slowly closing around him as he recklessly pursues his love of American movies and libidinous interest in the beautiful American.

Cast: Jean Seberg, Jean-Paul Belmondo

Crew: Jean-Luc Godard (Director), Raoul Coutard (Director of Photography), Martial Solal (Music Director)

Rating: A (India)

Genres: Crime, Drama, Romance

Release Dates: 07 Feb 1960 (India)

Tagline: The film that was banned for 4 years. Why..?

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Did you know? Jean-Luc Godard's first major motion picture. Read More
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as Patricia Franchini
as Michel Poiccard / Laszlo Kovacs
as Journalist at Orly
as Claudius Mansard
as Police Inspector Vital
Supporting Actor
as Journalist at Orly
as Photographer
Supporting Actor
as Antonio Berrutti
Supporting Actor
as A Drunk
as A Journalist
as Parvulesco the Writer
as A Journalist
as The Snitch
as Man in a White Car
as Liliane / Minouche
as Minouche
Supporting Actress
as Police Inspector
Supporting Actor
as A Journalist
as A Journalist
Supporting Actor
as Tolmatchoff
as Carl Zubart
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actress




Story Writer
Screenplay Writer

Camera and Electrical

Director of Photography


Music Director


Sound Designer


Makeup and Hair

Makeup Artist
Film Type:
Spoken Languages:
Colour Info:
Black & White
Sound Mix:
Frame Rate:
24 fps
Aspect Ratio:
2.35:1, 1.37:1
The film that was banned for 4 years. Why..?
Crew/Equipment Visible
When Patricia (Jean Seberg) is going up the escalator, a plant beside it can be seen moving as if knocked by the cameraman going up in front of her.

Revealing Mistakes
During street shots, countless passersby keep on staring into the camera, revealing the shots to be made without appropriate filming barriers and not using extras for pedestrians.
Voted as the 13th greatest film of all time in Sight & Sound's 2012 critic's poll.

Jean-Luc Godard's first major motion picture.

When Patricia and Michel are on the bed, and she is holding the Teddy Bear, the book Michel is reading is 'Photographing The Female Figure' by Bunny Yeager, from 1957. The close-up shots do not come from this book, though; it appears another book was used for these shots.

The character of Michel Poiccard uses the name Laszlo Kovacs as an alias. It is often wrongly assumed this was an homage to the cinematographer of the same name: the film was made long before Kovacs established himself in the movie industry. It was actually a reference to the character played by Jean-Paul Belmondo in Claude Chabrol's Leda (1959), earlier the same year.

According to Jean-Pierre Melville, Godard asked him for consultation during the post-production stage because the first edit was too long for distribution. Melville suggested Godard remove all scenes that slowed down the action (his own turn as novelist Parvulesco included). But instead of excluding entire scenes, Godard cut little bits from here and there. This led to the "jump cut" technique this movie introduced. Melville declared the result to be excellent.

To give a more detached, spontaneous quality, Jean-Luc Godard fed the actors their lines as scenes were being filmed.

Director Jean-Luc Godard couldn't afford a dolly, so he pushed the cinematographer around in a wheelchair through many scenes of the film. He got the idea from Jean-Pierre Melville, who had used the same low-budget technique in Bob le Flambeur (1956) and Le Silence de la Mer (1949).

Jean-Paul Belmondo was very surprised by the warm reception the film received. Immediately after production he was convinced it was so bad that he thought the film would never be released.

Despite reports to the contrary, Jean-Luc Godard did not shoot the film without a script; however, he did not have a finished script at the beginning, instead writing scenes in the morning and filming them that day. See also Pierrot le Fou (1965).

Aside from the film's title, the distribution visa number, and the dedication to Monogram Pictures, there are no other credits or titles on this film. The entire cast and crew is uncredited.

This film is dedicated to Monogram Pictures.

Parvulesco the Writer, the subject of the press interview, is played by Jean-Pierre Melville, "Godfather of the New Wave." There is a reference to Melville's film, "Bob the Flambeur, in "Breathless" when Poiccard asks Tomatchoff how to cash the check he gives him. Tomatchoff responds, "Try Bob Montagne," who is the title character in the Melville film. Poiccard replies, "But he's in jail."

The song playing when Michel goes to visit the first girl in Paris is "Pity Pity" by Paul Anka (released in 1959).

Melville's film, "Bob the Flambeur, in "Breathless" when Poiccard asks Tomatchoff how to cash the check he gives him. Tomatchoff responds, "Try Bob Montagne," who is the title character in the Melville film. Poiccard replies, "But he's in jail."
Filming Start Date:
17 Aug 1959
Filming End Date:
15 Sep 1959