‘Breath’ by Samuel Beckett | Beckett on Film | 2001


Breath was written in 1969 in response to Kenneth Tynan’s request for a piece for his show Oh, Calcutta, which featured a series of risqué sketches. It lasts less than a minute. On a set full of rubbish, a person cries out, then breathes in again.

‘Faint brief cry and immediately inspiration and slow increase of light together reaching maximum together in about ten seconds. Silence and hold about five seconds.’


Running time: 45 seconds

The Beckett on Film project includes all 19 plays of Samuel Beckett, considered the most significant Irish playwright of the 20th century. Many of these outstanding filmed productions have received critical acclaim at prestigious international film festivals around the world including New York, Toronto and Venice.


Damien Hirst was born in Bristol in 1965. He attended Goldsmiths’ College, University of London from 1986 until 1989. While still a student, Damien curated the widely acclaimed ‘Freeze’ exhibition, which launched the career of many successful artists including himself. He has had many solo shows in London, New York and Zurich. He exhibited at the Tate Gallery and recently showed pieces in the ‘Sensation’ exhibition at the Royal Academy. He was short-listed for the Turner Prize in 1992 and won it in 1995.

‘When I was asked to direct this film, I read the text and thought it was incredibly precise and strict. While preparing to shoot, I kept reading the text over and over and what really focused me was Beckett’s direction “Hold for about five seconds”. That was when I realised that Beckett had this massive sense of humour.’

–Damien Hirst


With a wide range of experience in film, television and theatre, Keith Allen is highly regarded for his comic work. Recent films include Rancid Aluminium, Trainspotting, Captives, My Wife is an Actress and Shallow Grave. Keith also had a number-one single with ‘Vindaloo’, which he wrote and performed for Euro ’96.