British Academy Awards, Jean Seberg, Best Foreign Actress
Well, here it is. The birth of the French New Wave, at least part of that birth. Along with Francois Truffaut, Alain Resnais, and Jacques Demy, Jean-Luc Godard was at the head of a wave that crashed over movies and changed how they were seen. Half out of financial necessity and lack of experience, and half out of the first real intellectual view of film since Eisenstein, the New Wave worked against everything that Hollywood films had come to represent...My problem with it is that [Breathless] works great on a theoretical level, but it doesn't really make for an exciting or all that interesting viewing experience. I couldn't identify with either character, which is probably what Godard wanted. But it kept me from enjoying the movie on an emotional level, while I was able to appreciate it on an intellectual level. I guess I need both, which I got in what I consider Godard's masterpiece, 1966's Bande a part (called Band of Outsiders in America, and the inspiration for the name of Quentin Tarantino's production company, A Band Apart).
Michael W. Phillips, Jr.
Back in 1959, Breathless was a shocking and surprising work of cinematic art. Though it may not seem quite so revolutionary today, its coruscating influence can be seen in the films of auteurs like Quentin Tarantino, Hal Hartley, and others. Despite a disappointing audio commentary and sparse extras, the recently released DVD of Jean-Luc Godard's debut feature looks better than it has in years and will engage film historians and casual movie-watchers alike...The morality of Breathless is very difficult to parse, and one of the reasons viewers were so bewildered by the film when it debuted. Protagonist Michel Poiccard (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is a car thief and a brute, though undeniably charming...Godard went on from this debut to become one of the most important cinematic innovators of all time. And he's still going strong at the age of 71, having just released In Praise of Love. Though some of his mid-career work is rather solipsistic and pretentious, his talent and playfulness have always been in evidence, and are certainly in full force with Breathless.
DVD, No Longer Produced
Andrew Sarris, The Village Voice
...not only the most important of the New Wave films but also the most passionate.
A landmark film, it forever changed the perceptions of cinema.
Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights At The Movies
A witty, romantic, innovative chase picture.
Phillip Lopate, The New York Times
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Modern movies begin here, with Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless...No debut film since Citizen Kane has been as influential.