Influential critic and director Jean-Luc Godard has away quietly at home in Rolle, Switzerland, near Lake Geneva, according to a statement from his family.
According to the family statement, 91-year-old Godard had a number of diseases and committed assisted suicide before his death.
leading figure in the French New Wave
In the 1960s, the French New Wave’s filmmaker and former “enfant terrible” helped change popular cinema. He then spent the remainder of his career pushing limits and redefining cinematic form.
The shock of the novel was what viewers saw when they first saw Godard’s 1960 crime drama Breathless.
Jean Seberg, an American actress, was paired with the at-the-time-unknown Jean Paul Belmondo, who had a cigarette dangling sensually from his mouth. He portrayed a young, poor auto thief who takes inspiration from gangsters in Hollywood films. He flees to Italy with Seberg, his pregnant girlfriend who appears to be almost uninterested in him, after shooting a police officer.
They were Hollywood tropes that a director who loved Hollywood movies reimagined as the absolute definition of cool.
Godard had supported Alfred Hitchcock and Howard Hawks as a critic, and Belmondo uses a poster of Humphrey Bogart to emphasise her goal in Breathless. However, the director was establishing himself as a part of a New Wave in storytelling—one filled with experimentation and a rejection of conventional technique—with jump-cut editing, a disjointed narrative, and performers engaging with the camera.
David Thompson, a film critic, said of the 1960 film, “He comes along and says in effect, I have seen all the films ever made. The majority of them I love, but I give up on them because they are all outdated. I’m going to create a brand-new sort of movie by fusing the enthusiasm and freshness of a student’s ideas with the narrative structures of classic movies. And for six or seven years, two films a year so we’re talking about a In films like Contempt, starring Brigitte Bardot and Jack Palance, in which he criticises commercial filmmaking; in his science fiction movie Alphaville, in which a private eye lives in a society run by a computer; and, perhaps most notably, in his scathing, satirical critique of middle-class materialism, Weekend, a black comedy with murder, cannibalism, and an eight-minute, single-shot traffic jam on a country.
Just a few weeks before widespread worker and student strikes in May 1968, Weekend had its premiere. Godard addressed the crowd that none of the films in competition represented their interests as he led a protest that shut down the Cannes Film Festival that month.
This French New Wave pioneer claimed that “we are behind the times.” And at that precise moment, his filmmaking changed. He started a decade of purposefully subversive films, made in Palestine, Italy, and Czechoslovakia, with a minimal budget, no commercial appeal, and brimming with Marxist fervour. For instance, the movie Tout Va Bien, starring Yves Montand and Jane Fonda, tells the tale of sausage factory workers who go on strike.
The development of Godard as a creator
This overt focus on politics was a phase in and of itself; by the 1980s, Godard had turned his attention inward and to the medium of film. Even though he had always been experimenting, as his art developed, he became less interested in story and more engaged in experimentation.
In a public discussion in 1966, he repeatedly questioned the very structure of films, to the point where one participant finally snapped, “Surely you agree that films should have a beginning, a middle, and an end.”
Yes, Godard said, “but perhaps not in that order.
Godard told NPR that he came to film while he was in his early 20s.
“My parents taught me about books, some others taught me about artwork or music, but no one taught me about photos.”
He then informed others. All you need to produce a movie, he once remarked, “is a girl and a gun.” He started out as a critic, and in a way, he stayed one his entire life.
But as time went on, he became content to do without both women and weapons, as well as schemes. He was reportedly a difficult person who had disagreements with his peers; one such disagreement, over Francois Truffaut’s 1973 film Day for Night, didn’t be addressed until Truffaut’s passing in 1984. And in his final years, he rejected the idea that modern Hollywood could ever produce quality movies.
If Godard’s own work was considered serious by his standards, it primarily consisted of what could be described as visual “essays” — collages of film and video snippets accompanied by sound and occasionally incomprehensible commentary — that attracted a decreasing number of viewers.
However, what he accomplished in the early 1960s is still with us today. His ideas were so well received by the general public that long after the New Wave had lost its lustre, he continued to have an impact on filmmakers, some of whom may have never even heard of him.
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