Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bonjour Tristesse

Godard once said that he saw the Patricia character in Breathless as a continuation of the role played by Jean Seberg in Otto Preminger's Bonjour Tristesse (1958). Although the film was panned in the US (as was the first Seberg-Preminger collaboration, Saint Joan), Godard ranked it 3rd on his Ten Best List of 1958, in front of, among others, Visconti's White Nights (9th) and Welles' Touch of Evil (7th), but behind Bergman's Journey into Autumn (2nd) and Mankiewicz's The Quiet American (1st). A year or so after this, Godard would find himself directing Seberg in his first feature film. Above is the most wonderful scene from Preminger's film. (Well, there are two great scenes. The other you shall discover for yourself.) Among its various citations, Breathless includes as well an extract of dialogue from another Preminger film, the deliriously great noir thriller Whirlpool (1949), which has to be seen to be believed. It is Whirlpool that is playing when Patricia enters and exists a cinema in an attempt to shake off the police. (The contemporary installation artist Douglas Gordon "deconstructs" Preminger's film in his 1999 dual-screen video projection piece entitled Left is Right and Right is Wrong and Left is Wrong and Right is Right.)


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