Breathless was Jean-Luc Godard’s first feature, boldly heralding the arrival of French New Wave (La Nouvelle Vague) in 1960. Cool, raw and existential, this black and white masterwork captures the sheer joie de vivre of young love ­in a style unparalleled at its time.

In Marseille, Michel (Belmondo) takes what he wants when he wants it – modelling himself on the film persona of Humphrey Bogart. Whilst stealing a car, he impulsively shoots and kills a policeman. Young, self-centred and on the run, he flees to Paris and reunites with the young American Patricia (Seberg) he met weeks earlier, and tries to convince her to join him as he flees. Pregnant and impressionable, she struggles between her dream of becoming a journalist in Paris, and her bourgeoning affection for this fearless young man.

Love, betrayal and escape pervade this romance, inspired by the cine–jazz solo. This monument of French cinema won the 1960 Prix Jean Vigo, and Godard was named Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival.

In French with English subtitles. Jean Seberg, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Henri-Jacques Huet, Liliane Dreyfus, Claude Mansard, Van Doude.

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