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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Breathless" or "By a Tether")

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/godard.htm
France 1960

There was before Breathless, and there was after Breathless. With its lack of polish, surplus of attitude, crackling personalities of rising stars Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg, and anything-goes crime narrative, Jean-Luc Godard's debut fashioned a simultaneous homage to and critique of the American film genres that influenced and rocked him as a film writer for Cahiers du cinema. Jazzy, free-form, and sexy, Breathless (A bout de souffle) helped launch the French new wave and ensured cinema would never be the same.

***

Paris, 1959: you are there. Michel, A charismatic young hot-head (Jean-Paul Belmondo) has killed a cop in Marseilles and fled to the capital to hide out with Patricia, his on-off American girlfriend (Jean Seberg). As the authorities close in, Michel and Patricia’s relationship comes under increasing pressure…

But Breathless isn’t regarded as a cinematic landmark because of its plot, which could most charitably described as flimsy. Debutant director Godard set out with the express intention of making a movie “as if no-one had ever made one before,” and he succeeded. Before Breathless, most pictures were just filmed scripts – Godard wanted instead to make his film represent his view of the world: jagged, fresh, unorthodox, unpredictable. He ended up inventing a new way of telling a story through film – abrupt jump-cuts through time and space, improvisations, no establishing shots, a reliance on natural light and settings – that broke many cinematic rules and dared audiences to keep up, setting off a whole Nouvelle Vague of European cinema. Forty years on, the Godard’s effect is visible in just about every American or European film, but Godard’s innovations are now taken so much for granted that when they’re foregrounded – as in the Danish dogme films – we’re once again taken aback.

Most of Breathless still seems incredibly fresh, especially Coutard’s try-anything camerawork – you can feel Godard’s excitement as he pushes back boundary after boundary. But the script isn’t anything like as accomplished as the direction: while Belmondo’s remains an irresistible beat-punk characterisation, Seberg’s Patricia doesn’t come into anywhere near as sharp a focus. This causes problems when, in the second half of the film, the emphasis shifts away from him and onto her.

Excerpt from Neil Young's Film Lounge located HERE

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Posters

Theatrical Release: March 16th, 1960 - France

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Comparison:

Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Kinowelt - Region 2- PAL vs. Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Optimum (UK) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Studio Canal Collection - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Criterion "Dual Format" Region 'A' - Blu-ray

PAL DVD screen captures courtesy of Pablo Manzano and  Pavel Borodin Thanks!

DVD Box Covers

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 408
Region 1 - NTSC
Kinowelt
Region 2 - PAL

Fox / Lorber

Region 0  - NTSC

DVD Box Covers

UK Optimum Blu-ray Edition

German Kinowelt Blu-ray Edition:

Studio Canal Blu-ray in France:

Distribution Optimum Releasing
Region 2 - PAL
Optimum / Kinowelt / Studio Canal
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Criterion Collection - Spine # 408 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 408
Region 1 - NTSC
Kinowelt
Region 2 - PAL

Fox / Lorber

Region 0  - NTSC

Optimum Releasing
Region 2 - PAL
Optimum / Kinowelt
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Criterion
Region 'A' -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:30:09 1:26:09 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:26:21 1:26:09 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:30:08.333 1:30:25.253
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.33 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s
1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.19
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.58 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.6
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1080P / 24 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 41,046,636,014 bytes

Feature: 25,610,004,480 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.74 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,438,975,699 bytes

Feature: 21,544,765,440 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.98 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Criterion

 

Bitrate:

Kinowelt

 

Bitrate:

Fox

 

Bitrate:

Optimum

 

Bitrate:

Optimum / Kinowelt
Region FREE -
Blu-ray

Bitrate:

Criterion Blu-ray

 

Audio French (Dolby Digital 1.0) French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

DTS-HD Master Audio French 904 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 904 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio German 931 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 931 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Spanish 1021 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1021 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
LPCM Audio French 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, and none German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Turkish and none English, and none English, and none English, Dutch, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, none English, and none

Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:

Disc 1
• Archival interviews with director Jean-Luc Godard, and actors Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, and Jean-Pierre Melville (total 27:00)

•  French theatrical trailer  (2:01)

Disc 2
•  New video interviews with Coutard and assistant director Pierre Rissient (22:27)
, and another by filmmaker D. A. Pennebaker (10:31)
•  New video essays: filmmaker and critic Mark Rappaport's "Jean Seberg" (18:55) and critic Jonathan Rosenbaum's "Breathless as Film Criticism" (11:08) - read by Daniel Stewart
• Chambre 12, Hotel de suede, (1:18:24) French documentary about the making of Breathless, with members of the cast and crew
• Charlotte et son Jules, a 1959 short film homage to Jean Cocteau by Godard, starring Belmondo (12:41)
• 82-page liner notes booklet featuring writings from Godard, film historian Dudley Andrew, Francois Truffaut's original film treatment, and Godard's scenario

 

DVD Release Date: October 23rd, 2007
Custom Case (see image below)

Chapters 18

Release Information:
Studio: Kinowelt

Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Trailer

Photo Gallery

 

DVD Release Date: July 24th, 2001
Keep Case

Chapters ?

 

Release Information:
Studio: Fox Lorber

Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• All Regions
• Black & White
• Commentary by film critic David Sterritt

 

DVD Release Date: November 20, 2001
Keep Case

Chapters 16

Release Information:
Studio: Optimum Releasing (UK)

.

Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Special Feature:
• Poster Gallery
• Photo Gallery
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Full Production Notes
1983 Remake Trailer
• "Charlotte et son Jules" A short Film by Jean-Luc Godard (12:42)

DVD Release Date: October 9th, 2000
Keep Case

Chapters 9

Release Information:
Studio: Optimum Kinowelt

1080P / 24 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 41,046,636,014 bytes

Feature: 25,610,004,480 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.74 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video


Edition Details:
Introduction by Colin McCabe (4:42)

• Godard. Made in USA (50:17)

• Chambre 12, Hôtel de Suède (1:18:50) French documentary about the making of Breathless, with members of the cast and crew
• Jean-Luc according to Luc (7:35 in HD)

• 8 Posters

• 77 picture photo gallery

Trailer (2:08)

BD-LIve

 

Blu-ray Release Date: February 18th, 2010
Chapters
12

Optimum Blu-ray Release Date: October September 13th, 2010

 

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,438,975,699 bytes

Feature: 21,544,765,440 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.98 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video


Edition Details:

• Archival interviews with director Jean-Luc Godard, and actors Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, and Jean-Pierre Melville (total 27:00)

•  French theatrical trailer  (2:01)

•  New video interviews with Coutard and assistant director Pierre Rissient (22:27), and another by filmmaker D. A. Pennebaker (10:31)
•  New video essays: filmmaker and critic Mark Rappaport's "Jean Seberg" (18:55) and critic Jonathan Rosenbaum's "Breathless as Film Criticism" (11:08) - read by Daniel Stewart
• Chambre 12, Hotel de suede, (1:18:24) French documentary about the making of Breathless, with members of the cast and crew
• Charlotte et son Jules, a 1959 short film homage to Jean Cocteau by Godard, starring Belmondo (12:41)
• 82-page liner notes booklet featuring writings from Godard, film historian Dudley Andrew, Francois Truffaut's original film treatment, and Godard's scenario

 

Blu-ray Release Date: September 14th, 2010 / February 25th, 2014
Custom
Blu-ray Case Chapters 17

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray - February 2014: Briefly, we have the new dual-format Criterion release and, can confirm, that it is exactly the same transfer as the 2010 one (within a few bits). Comments below are still valid. The only addition are the two DVDs that have the same content as the Blu-ray. See the new package image below.

***

ADDITION: Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray - September 2010: Firstly, I don't know the reason that the Optimum Blu-ray was delayed 6 months behind the other Studio Canal Collection Releases. But I can assure you that my UK screener was region FREE (well, Region A + B) but I, obviously, can't guarantee this status has remained the same.

So, while the Criterion Blu-ray may seem a tad duller and darker - there are many instances where it shows more detail in the frame - this represents information lost in the richer blacks or brighter whiteness of the SC transfer (second 'bonus Blu-ray capture of Jean Seberg - see the light switch behind her). Of course, this may be more dependant on the system you view it on. I played both of these on my system and while I could differentiate between the two - the differences end up being extremely slight. Outside of the contrast they are not far off at all - both show excellent grain - if I was forced to choose based on image alone I might lean to the Studio Canal - which may actually be slightly boosted - but, frankly, both produce very appealing visuals. I've tried to match the captures with the exact frame but as this initial comparison of the DVDs is so old - we weren't using an easily replicate-able methodology. I've done my best and I am not discriminating against either image at this point although technically the Studio Canal is ahead. Both are dual-layered with a decent bitrate. 

NOTE: the Criterion appears to have more information on the left edge of the frame - and a bit less on the right although this can vary throughout the film.

Audio I can't tell a difference although the Criterion might be a shade cleaner/crisper. Both are lossless - Criterion have given a liner PCM mono track to support the video. Criterion wins handily with the subtitle translations - as I said about the SC - they were somewhat 'awkward' with gaps and I just never felt them flow comfortably.

Criterion extras are duplicated from their strong 2-disc DVD package but video supplements are in HD - even the 1-hour 18-minute Chambre 12, Hotel de suede - the French documentary about the making of Breathless, with members of the cast and crew. Criterion have their 'Timeline' feature that the DVD doesn't but like that 2-disc set the Blu-ray has extensive information to indulge in but all accessible on one lone disc. Really you could investigate it for a very long while including the 82-page liner notes booklet featuring writings from Godard, film historian Dudley Andrew, Francois Truffaut's original film treatment, and Godard's scenario.

You may end up choosing the edition you want based on the supplements that you are most keen on... and the overall price (factor in shipping). Keep in mind the subtitle discrepancies - Criterion are definitely the best here. As usual the Criterion is a beautiful package and I'm very please to have it in my digital library. Breathless is a film you can throw on at almost any time and get into its vibe - even during a party with guests over - of course, I feel that way about Pierrot Le Fou as well. 

****

ADDITION: Optimum / Kinowelt - Studio Canal Collection - Region A + B Blu-ray - February 2010': It has been reported that some who have ordered the Pierrot Le Fou [Blu-ray] have accidentally received Breathless on Blu-ray I suspect this packaging snafu is the reason that these two titles are delayed by Optimum at Amazon.UK. There appears to be a wait at Amazon France but Kinowelt in Germany will be releasing this on February 18th, 2010. The Optimum / Kinowelt / Studio Canal editions appear to be the exact same Blu-ray disc. Packaging language for liner notes will differ but this seems to be the same video transfer, audio options and supplements. Like other Studio Canal Collection releases this starts with a list of country options (Germany, Spain, France, Netherlands, Portugal, United Kingdom and an Asian language that I suspect might be Thai). Before the main menu - both the Optimum Releasing and Studio Canal Collection logos appear.

Image quality here is as strong as the other Studio Canal Collection transfers. It easily has the best contrast of all the discs compared - even the Criterion looks a bit green beside it - and grain is textured in abundance. This looks excellent IMO. This is on a dual-layered disc with a very high bitrate. I really like the way this appears in motion. It seems to have some minor cropping on the left edge compared to the picture-boxed Criterion but that is insignificant compared to the improved visual factors.

Audio takes a step forward with a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 904 kbps. It is not particularly dynamic but it cleaner and crisper than I have ever heard - most likely more true to the original. There is a similar lossless German and Spanish DUB available plus occasionally awkward subtitle options in English, Dutch, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, etc. and my
Momitsu tells me they are regions A + B (essentially region free).

Extras, all offering English subtitles (AND ACCESSIBLE ON REGION 'A'-locked MACHINES!), rival the Criterion - perhaps even passing their content. We get a 5-minute introduction by Colin McCabe. Godard. Made in USA is a 50-minute film by Luc Lagier visiting the Parisian locals where Breathless was shot - comparing the changes - now 50-years later. It then advances into other areas of Godard including input from William Friedkin and many others as it moves through the French icon's work. I found it interesting. Chambre 12, Hôtel de Suède is the two hour French documentary, also found on the Criterion, about the making of Breathless, with members of the cast and crew. This seems to cover so many details - perfect for Godardians. Jean-Luc according to Luc is less than 10-minutes of Luc Moullet, long time friend an Godard connoisseur, from a TV show called 'Court Circuit' with a segment entitled 'carte blanche' (I think) creating his own Godard show which lasts 7-minutes. There are galleries with 8 posters and 77 picture HD photo gallery including ones like THIS and THIS. Beautiful. There is a 2-minute trailer, the disc is BD-Live enabled (untested at the writing of this review) and I'll assume, a liner notes booklet is included but my screener didn't come with one.

NOTE: It could be my dyslexic use of the menu but on two occasions when accessing the supplements - the language actually altered - and, suddenly, I was reading German subtitles. Unfortunately, this is not a simple menu click remedy as it bases itself in the root language you initially chose. It could just have been my screener, my own extensive navigation operations or the reason the disc is delayed in a few locations.

The audio and video transfer is a strong enough reason to indulge - being region FREE opens the disc up to fans around the world - and the extensive extras give a strong education into the director work. There may be a bugaboo that I couldn't detect but frankly, I was pleasantly surprised by the contents. I've gone over it twice and this is a real keeper. Subtitles aside - absolutely recommended.

***

ADDITION: Criterion - October 07': This dual-layered Criterion DVD is pictureboxed transferred (see our full description of 'pictureboxing' in our Kind Hearts and Coronets review). It is coded for Region 1 in the NTSC standard. The transfer is progressive and in the original 1.33 aspect ratio. The audio is original French mono and there are optional English subtitles for the feature and all the extras. It comes in a custom - very artistic - 4-tiered digipak case with colored inserts with black and white photos of the film on the outside. It comes with the hefty booklet included (see image below).

Criterion's image eclipses its nearest rival - the Kinowelt - which now appears slightly contrast boosted. The Criterion has the appearance of being sharper with some minor black level boosting which brings up detail.  The image is smooth, very clean and contrast is excellent although slightly subdued. It's hard not to rate the Criterion which boasts a 'high-definition digital transfer, approved by director of photography Raoul Coutard '.  The original mono is clear and consistent and is supported by excellent optional English subtitles.

Disc one offers 27 minutes worth of combined, excerpted, archival interviews with director Jean-Luc Godard, and actors Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, as well as Jean-Pierre Melville recorded for French television between 1960 and 1964. Absolutely cool stuff. There is also a 2 minute French trailer on the feature disc.

Dual-layered disc two is stacked and has some wonderful supplements - Newly recorded video interviews with Coutard and assistant director on Breathless Pierre Rissient (22:27). In their interviews, Coutard, who shot 14 films for Godard, and Rissient recall practical and personal details from Goddard's first feature film. There is another with filmmaker D. A. Pennebaker (10:31) where he explores Godard's statement 'Breathless is a documentary about Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg'. Ten minutes with some history on a meeting with the two filmmakers and a potential project. Critic Mark Rappaport's "Jean Seberg" (18:55) centers on her brief publicized stint in Hollywood and how Godard chose Seberg from many auditioned actresses to star in Breathless - her most renowned role. Rappaport explores details behind her iconic face and the character of Patricia Franchini. I quite enjoyed Daniel Stewart as he reads Jonathan Rosenbaum's excellent "Breathless as Film Criticism" with images and scenes of the film as a background (11:08). From Studio Canal - Chambre 12, Hotel de suede is an 80 minute French documentary made in 1993 by Claude Ventura over the course of nine days about the making of Breathless, with members of the cast and crew and others including Belmondo, Chabrol, editor Cecile Decugis, Coutard and Rissient. I wasn't as keen on this but I should watch it again sometime as I was deeply into the extras at the time of watching - a bit tired. Charlotte et son Jules, a 1959 short film homage to Jean Cocteau by Godard, starring Belmondo and Anna Collete (12:41).

Finally we get an extensive book (not booklet) with 82 pages of black and white photos from the film and writings from Godard, film historian Dudley Andrew, Francois Truffaut's original film treatment, and Godard's scenario.

WOW. You didn't require my review to purchase this as it was a no-brainer for most film fans - but I can whole-heartedly endorse your decision. The picture-boxing might be the only thing holding it back from 'DVD of the Year' status. As whole, complete and professional as any Criterion package I can recall - the price is right for Pre-order.

Gary W. Tooze


Recommended Reading in French Cinema (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

The Films in My Life
by Francois Truffaut, Leonard Mayhew

French Cinema: A Student's Guide
by Philip Powrie, Keith Reader
Agnes Varda by Alison Smith Godard on Godard : Critical Writings by Jean-Luc Godard The Art of Cinema by Jean Cocteau French New Wave
by Jean Douchet, Robert Bonnono, Cedric Anger, Robert Bononno
French Cinema: From Its Beginnings to the Present
by Remi Fournier Lanzoni

Check out more in "The Library"


 

Criterion Dual Format package

 

 



DVD Menus

(Criterion Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. Kinowelt - Region 2- PAL RIGHT)

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Criterion - Disc 2

 



(Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)


 

Optimum / Kinowelt - Region FREE - Blu-ray LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

Sample of Blu-ray subtitles TOP vs. Criterion Blu-ray subtitles MIDDLE vs. Criterion DVD subtitles BOTTOM

 

 

1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Kinowelt - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL - FOURTH

5) Optimum / Kinowelt - Region FREE - Blu-ray FIFTH

6) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Kinowelt - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4)Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL - FOURTH

5) Optimum / Kinowelt - Region FREE - Blu-ray FIFTH

6) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Kinowelt - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL - FOURTH

5) Optimum / Kinowelt - Region FREE - Blu-ray FIFTH

6) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Kinowelt - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL - FOURTH

5) Optimum / Kinowelt - Region FREE - Blu-ray FIFTH

6) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

NOTE: Notice some PAL-NTSC 'ghosting' on the Fox Lorber


 

1) Optimum / Kinowelt - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Optimum / Kinowelt - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Optimum / Kinowelt - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Optimum / Kinowelt - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


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Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Criterion Blu-ray

Packaging:

Criterion

 

DVD Box Covers

 

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 408
Region 1 - NTSC
Kinowelt
Region 2 - PAL

Fox / Lorber

Region 0  - NTSC

DVD Box Covers

UK Optimum Blu-ray Edition

German Kinowelt Blu-ray Edition:

Studio Canal Blu-ray in France:

Distribution Optimum Releasing
Region 2 - PAL
Optimum / Kinowelt / Studio Canal
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Criterion Collection - Spine # 408 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 


 

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Gary Tooze

Many Thanks... B