French New Wave legend Jean-Luc Godard has died

French New Wave auteur Jean-Luc Godard, who changed the face of French cinema, has died. He was 91 and will be remembered fondly.

Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard’s influence on films and his position in film history is undeniable, even if he often rejected it. The auteur – and I really do mean that word here – was 91 and his death was reported by French newspaper Libération. 

Godard was one of the most influential and progressive members of the French New Wave movement in the 1950s and 60s. His films were highly political, but Breathless (À bout de souffle) is also deeply romantic. 

Godard was born in Paris in 1930. His father moved the family to Switzerland when Godard was 4 years old and the family stayed there through the Second World War. He returned to Paris to study at the prestigious Lycée Buffon and eventually got his start as a film critic after meeting similar-minded people. 

His first feature, the aforementioned Breathless, was shot on the streets of Paris in 1959 and released in 1960. It’s perhaps his best-known film. 

His most famous quote “Cinema is truth at 24 frames a second” encapsulates the director’s constant desire to capture truth. Godard’s films experimented with editing and could be jarring, challenging experiences, but Godard’s vision has a lasting place in cinema history. 

Jean-Luc Godard Brian Jones

Jean-Luc Godard and Brian Jones during filming Sympathy For The Devil. Credit: Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

2018’s The Image Book was Godard’s last feature film. The avant-garde, deeply artistic film essay was strongly critical of the film industry and individual filmmakers’ responsibility in documenting and acknowledging political atrocities. Godard also pointed out how the introduction of iPhones led to advances in political discourse. 

Godard’s legacy is that of truth, innovation and pure love of the cinematic arts. He adored cinema and films, including and most of all, Hollywood. His films were endlessly playful, sexy even. But most of all, they shaped cinema immeasurably. Godard was a true artist, a visionary and his loss is monumental to cinema.  

Leave a Reply

More like this