10 Films That Changed Filmmaking


'Breathless' (1960)

Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo, Breathless
French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo and American actress Jean Seberg sit together under a blanket in scene from the film 'Breathless, directed by Jean-Luc Godard. Walter Daran/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Disciples of film auteurs like Wes Anderson and Quentin Tarantino might want to spend some time paying their respects to Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut. These titans of the French New Wave set the course for their American offspring with a smattering of self-aware films that used new techniques to tell old stories.

"The French New Wave has influenced all film-makers who have worked since, whether they saw the films or not," Martin Scorseseonce said. "It submerged cinema like a tidal wave."

A centerpiece of the New Wave movement, "Breathless" is best known among cinephiles for its extensive use of jump cut editing. Director Godard used multiple shots of the same subject from slightly different angles to express the passage of time. The technique also gives the film an edgy, jagged feel as Godard tells the story of an outlaw (Jean-Paul Belmondo) and his love interest (Jean Seberg) on the move.

Jump cuts have since become a regularly used way to build tension in cinema. Gangster movie fans might recall that Scorsese employed the technique in the closing scenes of "Goodfellas," as a cocaine-addled Henry Hill drives around Brooklyn and the cops close in [sources: Kohn, Casey].