Filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, monument of the New Wave, died at the age of 91

Filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, monument of the New Wave, died at the age of 91

Jean-Luc Godard is dead. The director, monument of the New Wave, died at the age of 91, France Inter learned on Tuesday September 13 from the filmmaker’s entourage, confirming information from Release. Its name immediately evokes cinema: a history of cinema, a way of doing it. And to be cinema, completely. “Godard is a creator, a real filmmaker”, said Alain Delon one day, who had agreed to shoot with him: “He’s someone who has something to say, who has a particular cinematographic style”.

Jean-Luc Godard was born on December 3, 1930 in Paris into a Franco-Swiss family. Father doctor, mother from a rich Protestant family, the young man grew up between the two countries in a privileged environment despite the war, where he devoted himself as much to sport as to painting, a true passion of youth. In Paris, where he obtained a master’s degree in ethnology at the Sorbonne, Godard mainly spent his time between cinemas and the Cinémathèque and wrote texts for the Cinema Gazette Where The Notebooks of the Cinema barely founded. He rubs shoulders with enthusiasts like him, François Truffaut, Eric Rohmer and Claude Chabrol.

In 1954, he directed his first film, Concrete operationa short documentary on the construction of a dam. Five years later, Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg are the faces of his first feature, Breathless. Huge public and critical success, it is the founding film, with The Handsome Serge (1958) and The Four Hundred Blows (1959) Truffaut, New Wave.

In his trailer, Godard quotes in his own voice the “supervision” of Chabrol and the scenario of Truffaut, eternal friend-enemy, colleague and rival of the nascent movement. Based on a true story, the film tells the story of the hunt for a little thug and his meeting with a young American girl. Explosive story, both close to the documentary and very poetic, on an original soundtrack composed as much by the jazz of Martial Solal as by the noises of the street.

A new, syncopated rhythm, a new way of approaching the camera in settings not reconstructed in the studio, Breathless jostles by the image. But Godard also reinvents the narration with new dialogues, punch to the writing of the time.

Several films take the same path. Among them Pierrot le fou (1965)another odyssey in France, still Belmondo, but this time with Anna Karina or Male Female (1966) with Jean-Pierre Léaud and Chantal Goya. And above all, a few years earlier (in 1963), Contempt after Moravia, a masterpiece bringing together Michel Piccoli and Brigitte Bardot at Cinecittà, Rome, and Capri, at the Villa Malaparte.

1967: The Chinesewith Anne Wiazemsky (who was his wife that year) and Jean-Pierre Léaud (who had become, like Belmondo, one of his favorite actors) was the high point of Godard’s most political period, which plunged him into in May 68 and artistic activism: for him it’s clear, his cinema is a means of fighting against the system.

Moreover, in 1968 Godard was one of the most active filmmakers in the initiative to suspend the Cannes Film Festival that year.

The 1970s were half-hearted for Godard, who devoted himself more to video experimentation. And the 1980s, those of his return to a more mainstream cinema, which posted significant distributions: Save who can live, a great political painting from 1980 which depicts the anxieties and aspirations of man faced with a society that crushes him, brings together Jacques Dutronc, Isabelle Huppert and Nathalie Baye.

Five years later, Godard finds Nathalie Baye for Detectiveanother choral film where a detective plot and different life stories intersect, this time with Johnny Hallyday, Laurent Terzieff, Claude Brasseur and Jean-Pierre Léaud.

The following decade, Godard made several experimental films and in particular History(ies) of cinemaphilosophical-aesthetic fresco in the manner of imaginary museum de Malraux: Godard uses cinema as a way of thinking.

At the start of the 21st century, he became an actor playing himself in films by Jacques Richard or Alain Fleischer. And present as a director, at Cannes in 2010 in the Un Certain Regard selection, his film Socialism. Back on the Croisette in 2014 with Farewell to language who won the Jury Prize ex-aequo and in 2018 with The picture bookexperimental film on the Arab world which won a Special Palme d’Or. Jean-Luc Godard never stopped directing.

Godard will have been a filmmaker of extreme originality, allergic to conventions. So determined in his convictions that in half a century, he managed to write a key chapter in the history of the seventh art. Adulated, hated, never really imitated, because inimitable, as he pursued his personal search for a constantly renewed cinematographic language.

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