Jean-Luc Godard, French New Wave Film Director, Dies: NPR


Film director Jean-Luc Godard at the 1982 Cannes festival. He was a key figure in French New Wave cinema. He died at the age of 91, according to French media.

Jean-Jacques Levy/AP


hide title

toggle title

Jean-Jacques Levy/AP


Film director Jean-Luc Godard at the 1982 Cannes festival. He was a key figure in French New Wave cinema. He died at the age of 91, according to French media.

Jean-Jacques Levy/AP

Influential critic and filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones at his home in the Swiss town of Rolle, on Lake Geneva, his family said in a statement.

The family statement said Godard, 91, had multiple illnesses and died by assisted suicide.

A leader of the French New Wave

The director and one-time “enfant terrible” of the French New Wave helped revolutionize popular cinema in the 1960s and spent the rest of his career pushing boundaries and reinventing the cinematic form.

What greeted audiences in Godard’s first feature film, the 1960 crime drama PantingIt was the shock of the new.

American actress Jean Seberg performed alongside a then unknown Jean Paul Belmondo, with a cigarette dangling sexy from her lip. She played a penniless young car thief who is inspired by gangsters from Hollywood movies. After shooting a police officer, she goes on the run to Italy with Seberg, her pregnant girlfriend who seems almost uninterested in him.

They were archetypes of Tinseltown, reconceived as the very essence of cool by a director who was a huge fan of Hollywood movies.

As a critic, Godard had championed directors Alfred Hitchcock and Howard Hawks, and in Panting, there is a poster of Humphrey Bogart, to underline what Belmondo is looking for. But with jump editing, a fractured narrative, and actors interacting with the camera, the filmmaker was establishing himself as part of a new wave in storytelling, full of experimentation and rejection of accepted technique.

Youtube

Influence on modern cinema

“Comes in 1960”, critic David Thompson saying NPR’s David D’Arcy, “and he says, yes, I’ve seen every movie that’s ever been made. I love them, most of them, but I’m giving up on them because they’re all out of date. I’m going to make a new kind of cinema, and I’m going to combine the energy and novelty of ideas from a student, with the narrative forms of old movies. And for six or seven years, two movies a year, so we’re talking about a good number of movies, it does it.”

in photos like Contempt, with Brigitte Bardot and Jack Palance, in which he accuses commercial cinema; in his sci-fi movie Alfaville, which places a private detective in a society run by a computer; and most memorably in his scathing and satirical takedown of middle-class materialism, Weekenda black comedy involving murder, cannibalism, and an eight-minute one-shot traffic jam on a country road, which ranks among the most celebrated cinematic moments of the 1960s.


Godard at Cannes in 2001.

Laurent Rebours/AP


hide title

toggle title

Laurent Rebours/AP


Godard at Cannes in 2001.

Laurent Rebours/AP

Weekend premiered just weeks before student and worker protests shut down much of France in May 1968. Godard, who led a protest that shut down the Cannes Film Festival that month, told the crowd that none of the competing films represented their causes.

“We are behind,” said this leader of the French New Wave. And at that moment, his cinema took a turn. He embarked on a decade of deliberately revolutionary films: low-budget, non-commercial provocations shot in Palestine, Italy, Czechoslovakia and filled with Marxist fervour. Everything is going wellfor example, starring Yves Montand and Jane Fonda in the story of striking workers in a sausage factory.

Godard’s evolution as a creator

This overt emphasis on politics was itself a phase, and by the 1980s, Godard was looking inward and looking at cinema itself. As his art matured, he became less interested in narrative and more interested in experimentation, although in reality he had always been experimenting.

In a public debate in 1966, he continued to question film grammar, until an exasperated panelist finally stammered, “Surely you agree that films must have a beginning, a middle, and an end.”

“Yes,” Godard conceded, “but not necessarily in that order.”

Godard had come to film in his early 20s, he told NPR.

“My parents told me about literature, some other people told me about painting over music, but no one told me about images.”

So he told the others. He started out as a critic and, in a sense, remained a critic all his life in famously quotable public statements: “All you need to make a movie,” he once said, “is a girl and a gun.”

But as time went on, he was happy to do without both the girls and the guns, and the plots as well. A difficult man in almost every way, he fell out with his contemporaries (an argument with his friend and fellow New Wave director Francois Truffaut over the latter’s attitude). day for night in 1973 was not resolved before Truffaut’s death in 1984). And in his later years, he dismissed notions that contemporary Hollywood could make serious movies.

If Godard’s own work was serious in its light, in its later decades it consisted mainly of what might be called visual “essays” (collages of film and video clips accompanied by aural and sometimes impenetrable commentary) that found audiences. smaller and smaller. .

But what he achieved in the early 1960s is still with us, his innovations so absorbed into the mainstream that he has continued to influence filmmakers, some of whom have barely heard of him, long after the New Hey, get old.

Leave a Comment