The camera is a paint brush for the Director. The movie is their masterpiece.
Godard’s A bout de soufflé, released in 1960, is mentioned in every stylish film critique. The French film fuses art, fashion and experimental cinematography. Godard was one of many directors in France to explore the art of film, rejecting Hollywood’s conventions and coining the term “Nouvelle Vague Cinema”, meaning “The New wave”.
A bout de Souffle references style but also creates art and fashion with hand held camera techniques, innovative jumps cuts and unconventional yet beautiful cinematography. Typical Parisian apartments add to the stylish settings of this film. The narrative follows protagonist Michael’s (Jean-Paul Belmondo’s) journey from Marseilles to Paris, breaking the law to find his Love Patricia (Jean Seberg) an American girl who sells Harold Tribune in the Champs-Elysées.
Godard pays homage to Humphrey Bogart through Belmondo’s adaptation of the renegade style and his characteristics within the film. Jean Seberg is often citied as a fashion inspiration. Her sophisticated chic style was mirrored in A bout de soufflé. The innocent nautical tees and loafers, famous pixie crop and smouldering eyes gave a new meaning to the phrase “Je ne sais quoi” as she created a fashion craze in France.
The most recognized and iconic scene, which oozes style, has to be Patricia, strolling down the Champs-Elysees, wearing a New York Harold tribune sweater. This scene has been noted in fashion history. Still frames of this shot have been made into fashion photography.
Since this film, this style has constantly been re invented with designers Rodarte making an exclusive collection dedicated to “A bout de soufflé”, honouring its 50th anniversary. This conveys the films acknowledgment within the fashion industry.
Unlike Hollywood blockbusters such as Breakfast at tiffany’s, Godard created a new kind of style, very niche and realistic. Although it is clear his aesthetic is influenced by American legend Hitchcock, he took the art of film back to basics; using film noir conventions, letting the camera and lighting convey emotion and style. French new wave films much like Picasso took something old and destroyed/ disfigured it- making it a new rare beauty. Godard was an artist who created a film; with breathless he opened the eyes of many, to the true beauty of normality.
Words Johanna Bras’