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Tribute: Iconic French Director Jean-Luc Godard Passes Away At 91

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Tribute: Iconic French Director Jean-Luc Godard Passes Away At 91

Jean-Luc
Godard,
the
ingenious
“enfant
terrible”
of
the
French
New
Wave
who
revolutionised
popular
cinema
in
1960
with
his
debut
feature

Breathless

and
stood
for
years
as
one
of
the
world’s
most
vital
and
provocative
directors
has
died,
French
media
reported.
He
was
91.
Multiple
French
media
outlets
confirmed
that
they
had
learned
the
news
of
his
death
from
his
relatives
on
Tuesday.

Godard
defied
convention
over
a
long
career
that
began
in
the
1950s
as
a
film
critic.
He
rewrote
rules
for
camera,
sound
and
narrative.
His
films
propelled
Jean-Paul
Belmondo
to
stardom
and
his
controversial
modern
nativity
play

Hail
Mary

grabbed
headlines
when
Pope
John
Paul
II
denounced
it
in
1985.
But
Godard
also
made
a
string
of
films,
often
politically
charged
and
experimental,
which
pleased
few
outside
a
small
circle
of
fans
and
frustrated
many
critics
through
their
purported
overblown
intellectualism.

Cannes
Film
Festival
Director
Thierry
Fremaux
told
The
Associated
Press
on
Tuesday
that
he
was
“sad,
sad.
Immensely
so” at
the
news
of
Godard’s
death.

Born
into
a
wealthy
French-Swiss
family
on
December
3,
1930
in
Paris,
Godard
grew
up
in
Nyon,
Switzerland,
studied
ethnology
at
the
Sorbonne
in
France’s
capital,
where
he
was
increasingly
drawn
to
the
cultural
scene
that
flourished
in
the
Latin
Quarter
“cine-club”
after
World
War
II.
He
became
friends
with
future
big-name
directors
Francois
Truffaut,
Jacques
Rivette
and
Eric
Rohmer
and
in
1950
founded
the
short-lived
Gazette
du
Cinema.

By
1952
he
had
begun
writing
for
the
prestigious
movie
magazine
Cahiers
du
Cinema.
After
working
on
two
films
by
Rivette
and
Rohmer
in
1951,
Godard
tried
to
direct
his
first
movie
while
travelling
through
North
and
South
America
with
his
father,
but
never
finished
it.

Back
in
Europe,
he
took
a
job
in
Switzerland
as
a
construction
worker
on
a
dam
project.
He
used
the
pay
to
finance
his
first
complete
film,
the
1954

Operation
Concrete
,
a
20-minute
documentary
about
the
building
of
the
dam.

Returning
to
Paris,
Godard
worked
as
spokesman
for
an
artists’ agency
and
made
his
first
feature
in
1957


All
Boys
Are
Called
Patrick
,
released
in
1959

and
continued
to
hone
his
writing.
He
also
began
work
on

Breathless
,
based
on
a
story
by
Truffaut.
It
was
to
be
Godard’s
first
big
success
when
it
was

released

in
March
1960.
The
movie
stars
Belmondo
as
a
penniless
young
thief
who
models
himself
on
Hollywood
movie
gangsters
and
who,
after
he
shoots
a
police
officer,
goes
on
the
run
to
Italy
with
his
American
girlfriend,
played
by
Jean
Seeberg.

Like
Truffaut’s

The
400
Blows
,
released
in
1959,
Godard’s
film
set
the
new
tone
for
French
movie
aesthetics.
Godard
rejected
conventional
narrative
style
and
instead
used
frequent
jump-cuts
that
mingled
philosophical
discussions
with
action
scenes.
He
spiced
it
all
up
with
references
to
Hollywood
gangster
movies,
and
nods
to
literature
and
visual
art.

In
1961,
Godard
married
Danish-born
model
and
actress
Anna
Karina,
who
appeared
in
a
string
of
movies
he
made
during
the
remainder
of
the
1960s,
all
of
them
seen
as
New
Wave
landmarks.
Notable
among
them
were

My
Life
to
Live
,

Alphaville

and

Crazy
Pete
,

which
also
starred
Belmondo
and
was
rumoured
to
have
been
shot
without
a
script.

Godard
also
launched
what
was
to
be
a
career-long
participation
in
collective
film
projects,
contributing
scenes
to

The
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
movie

Let’s
Have
a
Brainwash
,
with
Godard’s
scenes
portraying
a
disturbing
post-apocalypse
world.
Godard,
who
was
later
to
gain
a
reputation
for
his
uncompromising
left-wing
political
views,
had
a
brush
with
French
authorities
in
1960
when
he
made
“The
Little
Soldier”.

The
movie,
filled
with
references
to
France’s
colonial
war
in
Algeria,
was
not
released
until
1963,
a
year
after
the
conflict
ended.
His
work
turned
more
starkly
political
by
the
late
1960s.

In

Week
End
,
his
characters
lampoon
the
hypocrisy
of
bourgeois
society
even
as
they
demonstrate
the
comic
futility
of
violent
class
war.
It
came
out
a
year
before
popular
anger
at
the
establishment
shook
France,
culminating
in
the
iconic
but
short-lived
student
unrest
of
May
1968.
Godard
harboured
a
life-long
sympathy
for
various
forms
of
socialism
depicted
in
films
ranging
from
the
early
1970s
to
early
1990s.

In
December
2007,
he
was
honoured
by
the
European
Film
Academy
with
a
lifetime
achievement
award.

Godard
took
potshots
at
Hollywood
over
the
years.
He
remained
home
in
Switzerland
rather
than
travel
to
Hollywood
to
receive
an
honorary
Oscar
at
a
private
ceremony
in
November
2010
alongside
film
historian
and
preservationist
Kevin
Brownlow,
director-producer
Francis
Ford
Coppola
and
actor
Eli
Wallach.

His
lifelong
advocacy
of
the
Palestinian
cause
also
brought
him
repeated
accusations
of
anti-semitism,
despite
his
insistence
that
he
sympathised
with
the
Jewish
people
and
their
plight
in
Nazi-occupied
Europe.
Though
the
Academy
received
some
complaints
about
Godard
being
selected
to
receive
the
award,
its
president
Tom
Sherak
said
the
director
was
recognised
solely
“for
his
contributions
to
film
in
the
New
Wave
era”.

In
2010,
Godard
released

Film
Socialisme
,
a
film
in
three
chapters
first
shown
at
the
Cannes
Film
Festival.
He
spent
his
last
years
living
in
Rolle,
Switzerland,
near
where
he
grew
up
along
the
shores
of
Lake
Geneva.


Picture
credit:
Lincoln
Center.

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