November 30th, 2010

I first saw Breathless this past summer at the Film Forum, where I’m pretty sure it was playing for its 50th anniversary. I’d always heard about it in film and media classes, and really wanted to check it out. And it was awesome! It really is a great movie, I think my favorite aspect of it is probably the dialogue. Its very realistic but not at all dull, for example in that scene where we spend about 30 minutes watching Patricia and Michel talking in his room, its interesting enough to keep us engaged yet nothing crazy is happening at this point.

The thing that stood out to me, or confused me, the most when watching it in class for this second time was the final dialogue of the movie. When I had seen it the first time, after being shot Michel says “Makes me want to puke” and then she asks the cops what he said and they say, “He said you make him want to puke” and then she asks what puke means. In the version we watched in class he says “Its a real scumbag” and the cops tell her he said “You’re a real scumbag.” Other then those lines everything else in the movie was the same both times I watched it, so I found that really odd. The last lines are very ambiguous (in either version) and its strange that something so crucial to the movie isn’t even a set thing. I looked into it and apparently there are several different translations of these last lines, none of which have been declared the true translation (apparently its hard to hear what is being said for sure) I think from the little I did read on it, it seems to be the general opinion that Michel says “It’s really disgusting.” and the cops say he said “You’re really disgusting.” And then she asks what this means.

I kind of wish I spoke French so I could have my own thoughts on this, but as of right now I just find it very confusing that these lines could be translated so many ways!

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5 Responses to “Breathless”

  1. Amy Herzog on December 3, 2010 5:33 pm

    Interesting! I’ve often wondered about that, and my own French is so rusty I don’t trust my own ear/translation. Any French speakers in the house? Regardless, it seems as though that distinction between “it’s” and “you’re” is the key, ending on a double misunderstanding….

  2. mjanczewski on December 4, 2010 4:09 pm

    My favorite part of the film has to be the bedroom scene as well. So little in terms of action is happening but you learn so much about the two characters.
    Also, after reading your post, I did a little research as well and I also found that the final lines of the film has many meanings and can be interpreted in a few ways. It is confusing but I believe its meant to be that way to allow the viewer to make their own conclusions.

  3. maureen on December 5, 2010 1:54 pm

    I agree with mjanczewski. Maybe it’s meant to be ambiguous since the rest of the film was pretty straight forward and easy to follow; the end is the twist. It’s a cliff hanger but it’s closed – I love it.

  4. jeffonboard on December 13, 2010 2:20 am

    Also agree with mjanczewski here. I think the director intended to make the ending ambiguous so that everyone will be pleased with the ending as opposed to having a definite ending which will only appeal to part of the entire audience. Although it’s a vague ending, it is still a very nice closure to the story arc. Great post here.

  5. nashholl on December 13, 2010 6:18 am

    J’ai aime ce film. Il etait gĂ©nial et tres interessant. It was also very funny. Aussi, je pense que c’etait un film tres mechant. The director did an amazing job especially with the dialogue. Godard claimed to have written some of the dialogue on the spot and had few rehearsals. Godard, vous etes l’homme!! Grand film!

    Did anyone get it? I was imitating the dialogue scene where they spoke french and english interchangeably…Can’t remember? The scene where they were in the….Ahh nevermind…

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