Rule-breaking French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard dies at 91

Jean-Luc Godard, European filmmaker and film rule-breaker, considered one of the most influential, uncompromising and sometimes confusing artists of his era, he Who declared that “a movie should have a beginning, middle and end, but not necessarily in that order,” has died at the age of 91.

French President Macron Announcing the death in a tweet But no reason was provided. He died on September 13 in the Swiss town of Rolle, on the shores of Lake Geneva, Swiss news agency ATS reported, citing his family.

For six years, Mr. Godard has produced more than 90 feature films, documentaries, shorts and videos, defining him as one of the most productive, mischievous, didactic, subversive and polarizing filmmakers.

Beginning with his 1960 debut, Breathless, Mr. Godard rose to the peak of what came to be known as the New Wave, a group of young film critics – including François Truffaut, Eric Romer And Claude Chabrol – to start directing to liberate something. They see it as a calcified film industry. “We broke into cinemas like cavemen, into Louis XIV’s Versailles,” Godard said.

Many critics have come to see Breathless as an uplifting work of art, eschewing linear narratives and anything with conventions—like consistency of perspective and unobtrusive editing within the narrative. Mr. Godard used jump cuts to spoil things; this editing technique of cutting a frame or two from a scene is now common in films and music videos, but was surprising in the early 1960s.

These techniques and patterns set the template for much of his later work, with figures stepping out of character, winking, waving, and toasting at the camera. His films juxtapose sex, war, religion and commercialism with the irony of imagery and dialogue, and he fills them with witty and self-conscious allusions to literature, old movies and radical left politics.

The American critic Susan Sontag hailed Mr Godard in 1968 as one of the “great cultural heroes of our time”, comparing him with Pablo Picasso, James Joyce and Igor Sturt Ravinsky juxtaposed revolutionary changes in their respective artistic fields. Mr. Godard’s unpredictable iconoclasm appealed to Sontag, who noted his “profligate energy, palpable sense of adventure and eccentric individualism”. It wasn’t that he was always smart, she wrote, but that he was full of ideas and rarely repeated himself.

Sontag wrote that Godard helped create a new language of cinema that was “at once accomplished and chaotic, a ‘work in progress’ that made it difficult to accept.” His fanbase, however, was wide-ranging, Including Quentin Tarantino, Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Bernardo Bertolucci and Jim Jarmusch. He also had an immeasurable impact on international art theaters.

At his best, Mr Godard was responsible for some of the most sublime moments of screen time in the 1960s, including the hilarious and brutal car crash in “The Weekend” (1967) as an attack on greed and materialism; 10 min The postcard episode is meant to evoke the looting and adventures in the 1963 anti-war film “The Rifles” (“Les Carabiniers”); the cocktail party in “Pierrot Le Fou” (1965), where bourgeois guests go by word of mouth on TV the script for the ad; and an improvised pop dance by three liars in 1964’s “Bande à part” (The Outsiders).

Playful and enthusiastic in his early films, Mr. Godard gradually became more dogmatic in politics. His feature film “Sympathy for the Devil,” shot in 1968 and released in 1970, alternated scenes of Black Power revolutionaries and Maoist demagogues with long shots of the Rolling Stones recording the title song. Critics called it almost unwatchable.

In recent years, Mr. Godard has continued to make films, mostly omitted philosophical essays such as “Notre musique” (2004) and “Film socialisme” (2010). Changes in public taste and his challenging, constantly provocative style limited his audience to serious film lovers and connoisseurs, but the impact of his early work on generations of filmmakers cannot be overemphasized.

Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” (1996) had all the hallmarks of a Godard film, with its quirky plot, two-dimensional characters and nod to pop culture; the dance scenes of John Travolta and Uma Thurman were Described as a tribute to the sequence in “Bande à part”.

Mr. Godard is not easily flattered. When Tarantino named his production company A Band Apart, the French filmmaker quipped: “If you give me some money, he’ll do better.”

Personally, Mr. Godard doesn’t look like an imposing film director. He was small, with a high forehead, disheveled hair, sunglasses, and a shy look. But in the eyes of many, he was a contradictory, disturbing, aloof man. Born into a wealthy French-Swiss family, he became a staunch Maoist. He also created ads for Nike shoes when he needed funds for other projects.

Stories of his difficult personal style proliferated. His first marriage was to the Danish actress Anna Karina, who starred in several of his films in the 1960s, when he was emotionally abused. He fell out with Truffaut in the early 1970s — over politics or women, or both — and the two never spoke.

French New Wave film star Anna Karina dies at 79

Controversy arose in 2010 when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to award Mr. Godard an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement. The quote reads: “For passion. For confrontation. A new kind of cinema.”

The award reignited a longstanding debate over whether Mr Godard’s support for the Palestinian cause was rooted in anti-Semitic attitudes. He spent part of his youth under the guidance of his maternal grandfather, who supported the pro-Nazi government of Vichy France. “He’s anti-Semitic,” the director once said, “and I’m anti-Zionist and he’s anti-Semitic.”

Despite a longstanding distaste for Hollywood’s commercialism, Mr. Godard accepted the honor but did not come to Los Angeles for the ceremony.

“One dogma after another”

Jean-Luc Godard was born in Paris on December 3, 1930, the second of four children of the daughter of a Swiss doctor and a French banker. He grew up in Nyon, Switzerland, where his father ran a clinic.

In the late 1940s, he settled in Paris and embraced a bohemian lifestyle that included several annual viewings at a cinema that attracted like-minded film actors and future directors such as Chabrol, Rohmer and Truffaut. Hundreds of movies. To support himself, Mr. Godard stole some books from his grandfather’s first edition collection and sold them.

While starting their careers behind the scenes, New Wave Young Turks are writing seminal articles in Cahiers du cinéma magazine that support filmmakers’ traditions as novelists such as Dostoevsky and painters such as Picasso the artist.

Hollywood studios tend to view films as the collaborative effort of an organization of producers, but Mr. Godard and his colleagues developed the “author” theory – insisting that films should be seen as the director’s personal creation, like a song Poems are like the personal creations of poets and the paintings of painters. It was a novel perspective at a time when even big-name directors, including Alfred Hitchcock, were seen as good and unique technicians in large studios, but rarely as artists.

“He was an extraordinary critic, throwing dogma after dogma,” film historian David Thomson said of Godard.

After the short film, Mr. Godard brings the New Wave ideal to life with “Breathless,” about a gangster on the run (Jean-Paul Belmondo) and an American girlfriend who betrays him (Jean Seberg) .

Jean-Paul Belmondo, lively star of New Wave classic ‘Breathless’ dies at 88

Much of Breathless, produced on a tiny budget, was shot on the streets of Paris with a handheld camera. Jump cuts bring amazing pace. Mr. Godard used only brief plot outlines prepared by Truffaut, writing new dialogues every day. Allusions to Humphrey Bogart gangster films and other cultural reference points bring freshness to the script.

Richard Brody, a New Yorker reporter and Godard biographer in 2000, said the film “feels like a high-energy fusion of jazz and philosophy. The actors speak in exaggerated aphorisms, from slang to lille. Thoughts and emotions come and go in a heartbeat; the film is like a live recording of a person thinking in real time. . . . It inspired new cinemas from Czechoslovakia to Brazil over the next few years.”

“Breathless,” one of Mr. Godard’s few commercial successes, displayed his contrarian nature. Shortly after its release, he told an interviewer that he hoped his next film would fail, explaining, “I prefer to work when there are people I have to fight against.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Godard continued to ignite the enthusiasm of the film industry with his next batch of films, including by Karina (as a stripper and a prostitute, respectively). She also appears in “Alphaville,” a 1965 science fiction fantasy novel set presumably in the distant future but filmed in contemporary Paris.

Produced in 1960 and released three years later, Little Soldier is a mashup of political commentary, romantic comedy and torture scenes. It was banned in France for condemning the Algerian war.

One of Mr. Godard’s most unlikely projects was “Contempt” (1963), which, by his standards, received an unprecedentedly high budget – $1 million. The photo stars Brigitte Bardot, the French actress known around the world for her dynamic body and sexy pout. Mr. Godard quarrelled with his producers, who wanted an excuse to surprise Bardo. He adds a nude bedroom sequence in which she asks her screenwriter husband (Michelle Piccoli) to comment on every part of her body. This scene is more ridiculous than sexy.

“Contempt” is full of hints of modern filmmaking and offers a searing portrait of a broken marriage. It was also a commercial and serious disaster, although its reputation has greatly improved over time. Scorsese called it “brilliant, romantic and truly tragic” and “one of the greatest films ever made about the filmmaking process.”

The “weekend” is often considered a turning point for Mr. Godard. He was involved in student protests and strikes in 1968, described himself as a Maoist, established an independent production center in Grenoble, France, and began producing experimental videos imbued with communist ideology.

He was so shocked by the idea that all telecommercial films were inherently corrupt that he ended “The Weekend” with two title cards: “The Movie Is Over,” and then “The Movie Is Over.”

“Do what is not done”

Mr. Godard’s marriage to Karina and actress Anne Wizemsky ended in divorce. He has been a companion and collaborator of Swiss filmmaker Anne-Marie Miéville since the early 1970s.

Roller-based Mr. Godard, who resurfaced in the 1980s, has once again embraced feature film production, with critics praising him as an impeccable visual stylist and skilled technician. He did not lose any ability to be provocative, as he did when he portrayed the Virgin Mary as a gas station attendant in “Long Live Mary” (1985). When Film socialisme was released in 2010, Mr Godard confounded English speakers more than usual, with subtitles in English that barely hinted at what was being said in French.

The enigma did not bother Mr. Godard. “I’d rather feed 100 percent of 10 people. Hollywood would rather feed 1 percent of a million people,” he once told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m always doing what I haven’t done. And what I’ve never done is what other people are doing. I still think you can be an artist making a film.”

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