Jean-Luc Godard, flagship director of the New Wave, died at the age of 91

The filmmaker is remembered for breaking with the conventions of French cinema and pioneering a new way of making cinema

PARIS, France – Director Jean-Luc Godard, godfather of French New Wave cinema, died Tuesday, September 13 at the age of 91, the newspaper Liberation and other French media announced.

Godard was one of the world’s most acclaimed directors, known for such classics as Breathless and Contemptwhich pushed cinematic boundaries and inspired iconoclastic directors decades after its 1960s heyday.

His films broke with the established conventions of French cinema and helped launch a new way of making films, with handheld camera work, jump cuts and existential dialogue.

For many cinephiles, no praise is high enough: Godard, with his tousled black hair and thick-rimmed glasses, was a true revolutionary who made artists out of filmmakers, putting them on a par with the masters. painters and literary icons.

“It’s not where you take things – it’s where you bring them,” Godard once said.

Godard was not alone in creating the French New Wave, a credit he shares with at least a dozen peers, including François Truffaut and Eric Rohmer, mostly hip, bohemian Left Bank pals from Paris to the late 1950s.

However, he became the child star of the movement, which spawned offshoots in Japan, Hollywood and, more unlikely, in what was then communist-ruled Czechoslovakia as well as Brazil.

“We owe him a lot,” wrote former French culture minister Jack Lang in an emailed statement. “He filled cinema with poetry and philosophy. His sharp and unique eye made us see the imperceptible.

Quentin Tarantino, director of cult films of the 1990s pulp Fiction and reservoir dogsis part of a more recent generation of filmmakers who have taken up the torch of the tradition of going beyond borders initiated by Godard and his acolytes on the left bank of Paris.

Earlier came Martin Scorsese in 1976 with Taxi driverthe disturbing neon-lit psychological thriller about a Vietnam veteran turned taxi driver who drives the streets through the night with a growing obsession with the need to clean up seedy New York City.

Godard was not everyone’s idol. Canadian wild children director Xavier Dolan, who at 25 shared an award with an octogenarian Godard at the 2014 Cannes festival, courted controversy just as much as Godard, but called him “the grumpy old man” and “none of my heroes”. ”.

New wave, new paths

Godard was born into a wealthy Franco-Swiss family on December 3, 1930 in the sumptuous seventh arrondissement of Paris. His father was a doctor, his mother the daughter of a Swiss founder of Banque Paribas, then an illustrious investment bank.

This upbringing contrasted with his later pioneering ways. Godard came across like-minded people whose dissatisfaction with mundane films that never deviated from convention sowed the seeds of a dissident movement that came to be called the New Wave.

With its more outspoken and offbeat approach to sex, violence, and its explorations of counterculture, anti-war politics, and other changing mores, the New Wave was about innovation in filmmaking.

Godard was one of his most prolific peers, producing dozens of short and feature films over more than half a century from the late 1950s.

“Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it shape,” Godard said.

Most of his most influential and commercially successful films were released in the 1960s, including Live your life (my life to live), Pierrot le fou, Two or three things I know about her and Weekend.

He moved on to making films steeped in leftist anti-war politics in the 1970s before returning to a more commercial mainstream. Recent works, however – among them Farewell to the language in 2014 and The picture book in 2018 – were more experimental and reduced audiences largely to Godard geeks. –