Jean-Jacques Levy / AP
GENEVA – Jean-Luc Godard, the ingenious “terrible” of the French New Wave, who revolutionized popular cinema in 1960 with his film debut Breathless and once regarded for many years as one of the world’s most important and provocative directors has passed away. He was 91 years old.
The Swiss news agency ATS quoted Godard’s partner, Anne-Marie Mieville, and her producers as saying he passed away peacefully surrounded by loved ones at his home in the town of Rolle. of Switzerland, on Lake Geneva, on Tuesday.
French President Emmanuel Macron has hailed Godard as “the most iconic of the New Wave directors”, who “invented a modern, powerful and free art form”.
He added: “We have lost a national treasure, the eye of a genius.”
Godard defied convention on a long career that began in the 1950s as a film critic. He rewrote the rules for camera, audio, and narration.
His films catapulted Jean-Paul Belmondo to stardom and his controversial modern nativity play Best regards, Maria made headlines when Pope John Paul II denounced it in 1985.
But Godard also made a string of films, often political and experimental, that pleased a few outside a small fan base and disappointed many critics with their inflated intellectualism. their excess.
Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Fremaux told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he was “very sad, very sad. Extremely sad” over Godard’s death.
Laurent Rebours / AP
Born into a wealthy Franco-Swiss family on December 3, 1930, in Paris, Godard grew up in Nyon, Switzerland, studying ethnography at the Sorbonne in the French capital, where he increasingly studied. I was drawn to the cultural scene that flourished in the Latin Quarter. “cine-club” after World War II.
He befriended future famous directors Francois Truffaut, Jacques Rivette and Eric Rohmer and in 1950 founded the Gazette du Cinema. In 1952, he began writing for the prestigious film magazine Cinema Cahiers du.
After making two films by Rivette and Rohmer in 1951, Godard attempted to direct his first film while traveling through North and South America with his father, but never finished.
Back in Europe, he took a job in Switzerland as a construction worker on a dam construction project. He used the pay to finance his first complete film, 1954 Working concretea 20-minute documentary about the construction of the dam.
Returning to Paris, Godard worked as a spokesman for an artist company and made his first work in 1957 – All the boys are called Patrickreleased in 1959 – and continued to hone his writing.
He also started working on Breathless, based on a story by Truffaut. This was Godard’s first major success when it was released in March 1960.
The film stars Belmondo as a penniless young thief who models for gangsters in Hollywood movies and after shooting a cop he runs off to Italy with his friends. his American girl, played by Jean Seeberg.
Like Truffaut’s 400 Blows, released in 1959, Godard’s film set a new tone for French cinematic aesthetics. Godard rejected the conventional narrative style and instead used frequent cutscenes that intermingled philosophical discussions with action sequences.
He made all the inquiries regarding Hollywood gangster movies, and gave nods to literature and the visual arts.
Godard also launched what is believed to be a career-long involvement in collective film projects, contributing scenes to Seven Deadly Sins along with directors such as Claude Chabrol and Roger Vadim. He also worked with Ugo Gregoretti, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Roberto Rossellini on the Italian film Let’s brainwashwith scenes of Godard depicting a tumultuous post-apocalyptic world.
Godard, later known for his uncompromising left-wing political views, had ties to the French authorities in 1960 when he made Little soldier. The film, which deals with the French colonial war in Algeria, was not released until 1963, a year after the conflict ended.
His work became more political in the late 1960s. In Weekend, his characters shed light on the hypocrisy of bourgeois society even as they demonstrate the comic futility of violent class warfare. It came a year before public anger over the establishment rocked France, culminating in the iconic but short-lived student event in May 1968.
Godard has cultivated a lifelong empathy for the various forms of socialism depicted in films from the early 1970s to the early 1990s. In December 2007, he was approved by the Academy. European Cinema honored with a lifetime achievement award.
Godard has been shooting casual shots in Hollywood over the years.
He remained at home in Switzerland instead of traveling to Hollywood to receive his honorary Oscar at a private ceremony in November 2010 alongside film historian and conservationist Kevin Brownlow, director and producer Francis Ford Coppola and Actor Eli Wallach.
His lifelong campaigning for the Palestinian cause also led him to be repeatedly accused of anti-Semitism, although he insisted that he sympathized with the Jewish people and their plight in Europe being denied by Germany. Nazi occupation.
Although the academy received some complaints about Godard being selected to receive the award, Academy President Tom Sherak said the director was only recognized “for his contributions to cinema in the Age of War”. New wave.”
In 2010, Godard released Social filma three-chapter film that was screened for the first time at the Cannes Film Festival.
Godard married Danish-born model and actress Anna Karina in 1961. She appeared in a string of films he made throughout the rest of the 1960s, all of which are considered landmark of the New Wave. Notable among them are My life to live, Alphaville and Crazy Pete, – the film also stars Belmondo and is rumored to be shot without a script. They divorced in 1965.
Godard married his second wife, Anne Wiazemsky, in 1967. He later began a relationship with Swiss filmmaker Anne-Marie Miéville. Godard divorced Wiazemsky in 1979, after he moved with Miéville to the Swiss city of Rolle, where he lived with her for the rest of his life.