Saturday, November 14, 2009

Breathless ( 1961 ): "a boy who thinks about death"

Director: Jean- Luc Godard; French, 84 minutes.

"After all, I'm a louse. After all, I must. I MUST."

Is it the same man we saw as a teenager facing the great sea at the end of 400 blows? He has learnt to survive. He has not given in to defeat--he has accepted life on her own terms and he steers the boat from day to day, with no guarantee for the morrow. But he is alive for he has not committed the sin of accepting defeat. He is both hunter and hunted and the law is of the jungle. Feeling has died and he does not leave the cigarette even as he lurches to his downfall. That last obstinate puff. He is unconquered or is it just a young director's expression of pity? But he says he is tired and will not run. It was headed for this. He was always lurching inside. Even asking for this.

The girl is only calculating losses and gains. She weighs him on a scale. If we need to ask whether we love or not then we don't. In any case she is not the one who committed the murder nor has she been the hunted one ever before, so why should she now? But she has counting on his running away, not staying back to be killed.

"You're a louse."
"What's a louse?"....and moves on.

Come to think, there was tragedy in the contortion of his face from the start, that wide compressed arc of the lips.

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