“I make my movies not solely once I’m taking pictures, however as I dream, eat, learn, speak to you.”
– Jean-Luc Godard
In 1967, Jean-Luc Godard declared the top of cinema (“fin de cinema”) within the intertitles on the conclusion of his movie Weekend (1967), and his personal work mirrored this dying. From the self-imposed ashes arose an artist looking for objective and that means by sound and pictures in life, our world’s energy buildings, and cinema itself.
On September 13, 2022, Swiss-French filmmaker Godard handed away on the age of 91. Survived by his associate, filmmaker Anne-Marie Miéville, Godard leaves behind a legacy of innovation within the seventh artwork and a physique of labor starting from the pop sensibilities of Breathless (1960) and Masculin féminin (1966) to the probing essay movies Histoire(s) du cinéma (1988-1998) and The Picture Ebook (2018).
By no means stagnant, Godard’s model continually developed and went in instructions that defied dramatic conventions — satisfying an viewers was not often, if ever, his intent. Whereas his filmmaking profession went by intervals marked by specific approaches and themes, he by no means deserted his roots in movie criticism, saying in a 1996 interview with Movie Remark‘s Gavin Smith, “I don’t make a distinction between directing and criticism.”
Beginning out as a movie critic, Godard was one among a number of younger cinephiles (with François Truffaut, Jacques Rivette, Éric Rohmer, and others) who wrote for Cahiers du cinéma — the journal which established the “auteur concept,” defining a movie because the creation of its director with attributes and tendencies that may be traced all through a complete filmography. Hollywood style filmmakers like Nicholas Ray and Howard Hawks had been championed by Cahiers, and their work grew to become an essential jumping-off level for the filmmaking apply of Godard and his friends.
His first quick movie, Une movie coquette (1955), could be adopted by just a few extra short-form dramatic experiments earlier than he acquired funding to provide his characteristic debut, Breathless. With Breathless, the notion of a French New Wave was validated, with Truffaut’s earlier The 400 Blows (1959) having been a world sensation and Rivette’s debut Paris Belongs To Us (1961) within the wings.
Such work invigorated filmmakers all around the globe and codified a extra mainstream appreciation of cinéma vérité and low funds aesthetics. What number of filmmakers have been impressed by the photograph of Godard pushing cinematographer Raoul Coutard in a wheelchair in lieu of a digital camera dolly?
Extra expressive about his place in movie historical past than his friends, Godard’s work referenced different movies and artworks, inserting himself and cinema within the lineage of artwork historical past. Like Alfred Hitchcock, a persona identified inside and out of doors of the cinema, Godard formed himself to have a presence synonymous with movie. He included his personal movie, Vivre sa vie (1962), at #6 in his high 10 listing for Cahier‘s finest movies of 1962; “cinema” is credited as Godard’s center identify (“Jean-Luc Cinéma Godard”) within the opening titles of Band of Outsiders (1964), and within the trailer he edited for Masculin féminin his identify briefly seems as “Jean-Luc God” — a blasphemous stunt he would repeat once more within the promoting for Hélas pour moi (1993) almost three many years later. Such provocations are commonplace in Godard’s work, and his youthful ego attracted the ire of many whereas nonetheless amassing imitators and disciples in movie research, criticism, and filmmaking.
On the Cannes Movie Pageant in Could of 1968, Godard was among the many filmmakers who known as for the competition to close down in solidarity with the far-left youth motion in France. “We’re speaking solidarity with college students and employees, and also you’re speaking dolly pictures and close-ups,” Godard instructed competition attendees, including, “You’re assholes!” Nevertheless, his personal work within the decade after Could ’68 would largely be comprised of dolly pictures and close-ups to look at political topics with cinematic method foregrounded. Movie kind, or how one thing is represented, grew to become the massive query of his work.
A never-completed movie entitled Palestine Will Win, produced by Jean-Pierre Gorin and Godard’s Dziga Vertov Group, is such a piece that allowed for Godard to turn into extra introspective as financing for his political work grew to become troublesome. When your entire forged of Palestine Will Win was killed by Israeli forces, Godard and Miéville took a number of the surviving footage and created Ici et ailleurs (1976), a small but seminal work in his filmography which paved the best way for a brand new interval of labor that might materialize almost a decade later.
“I by no means went away,” Godard stated in a 1980 interview with Dick Cavett in response to his movie Each Man For Himself (1980) being described as a “comeback.” This sentiment stays true of a lot of the general public’s consciousness and understanding of his current work, usually launched theatrically in main cities alone, although entry to his work from 1980 to the current has widened significantly with house media.
Filmmakers reminiscent of Martin Scorsese, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Nagisa Ōshima, Michael Haneke, Quentin Tarantino, and plenty of extra have famous Godard’s affect on their work and on cinema as an entire. His experimentation with movie language has contributed to the best way up to date movies are written, shot, edited, and blended to at the present time. Sounds and pictures as a method of communication are on the coronary heart of his work, and discovering new paths to convey that means as cinematic expertise superior is traceable by his oeuvre.
One of many final dwelling filmmakers from the New Wave era, Godard’s passing marks the closing off of a gateway to cinema’s previous and a champion of cinema’s nonetheless yet-to-be-realized potential. Godard gave us glimpses into what might be, and his life’s work was the furtherance of a burgeoning medium many nonetheless take as a right. The cinema will transfer on with out Godard, however that it may possibly transfer on in any respect is due to him.
Extremely prolific, Godard’s filmography can seem daunting, however listed here are just a few works from every of his main intervals which will open the door for additional exploration and curiosity in his work and cinema as an entire:
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