Breathless or, in its native French, À bout de soufflé, is a 2960 French New Wave film directed by Jean-Luc Godard and is widely considered one of the most influential films ever made, changing the face of cinema and how directors not only approached their own films but also how they approached films made by other filmmakers, so that they could take what they deemed to be the good or bad of the work of others and incorporate their taste or distaste into their own work. This approach to filmmaking, and indeed the film itself, however, takes away from the organic nature of the art form and strips it down in a rigid structure that focuses more on the technical and artsy aspects of filmmaking rather than the stories that are supposed to drive movies. This can be seen clearly in an interview conducted with Godard, which comes across just as pretentious as his film, and which undermines the nature of the art.
Godard started his career not as a filmmaker but instead as a critic, saying “there is no reason one should not be a directed and not a critic first,” in his interview with Cahiers du Cinema in 1962. This seems to suggest that anyone making films should first dedicate more time to dissecting the artwork of others rather than delving into the art form that they themselves can create. This makes filmmaking not about the passion of an artist but rather a critical inspection of what or what does not work in the work of others, putting the filmmaker not at the mercy of an audience that shares the passion of the tale he is weaving but instead at the mercy of his own ego which he seeks to fuel by suggesting that his methodical, almost scientific examination of the works of others has lead him to develop a more sophisticated means of creating a film. This flies in the face of creativity and the artistic medium as a whole.
The interviewer then goes on to suggest that taking such a critical look at films instead of diving head-first into them can, in fact, undermine the improvisation that often has to occur to make a film feel natural and organic, to which Godard simply responds he improvises in the editing of the films, rather than the creation of this. This attitude can make a film such as Breathless, as unique as it is, feel almost fake in nature, as it becomes more and more clear that the director, for all of his vision, does not possess much in the way of a natural artistic vision but instead in a mathematical vision of what will look better on the screen rather than what will tell a better story.
Breathless cannot be denied as an influential piece of filmmaking, but that does not excuse it and its director for being far more superficial than they believe themselves to be. They both make conscious efforts to strip away the passion of film for one that is more style than substance.