The French-Swiss filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, who was born in Paris on December 3, 1930 and then grew up on Lake Geneva, landed a hit with his feature film debut “Out of Breath” after starting out as a film critic. The work is one of the most important films in the Nouvelle Vague, which had just been launched by his friend, co-author and colleague François Truffaut.
Godard, who counted directors from old Hollywood like Howard Hawks among his role models, broke with numerous rules of filmmaking. It was not shot in the studio with a handheld camera and without artificial lighting, but in the middle of real life. There are jump cuts, and dialogues are not staged using the lame shot-reverse shot method. What is taken for granted today was revolutionary back then. This film alone puts him among the greatest directors of all time.
Godard remained revolutionary throughout his career. He himself was suspicious of the great success of his debut. The fact that he then filmed a provocative criticism of the brutal actions of the French army in the Algerian war with “The Little Soldier” also seemed to be an attempt to distance himself as far as possible from the commercial public success that had preceded it. The film was immediately banned in France.
Godard made film after film in the early 1960s, starring his muse and then-wife Anna Karina in particular. This resulted in classics such as “A woman is a woman” and “Eleven o’clock at night”. Yet the radical breaks remained, as did Godard’s rejection of commercial hits with the public.
At times he led a socialist collective that produced group films around the world that were currently Not in big cinemas and in front of an audience. As an individual, Godard at times completely disappeared behind this group. His filmography has long periods without entries. But he kept making comebacks – well into old age, always keen to experiment, even continued to do so, said farewell to classic narrative patterns and increasingly dealt with himself, his political convictions and his own career.
In 2010 he caused a stir with “Film Socialisme”. Incidentally, in the same year he was also awarded an honorary Oscar. With “Goodbye to Language” he won another prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014. His last film, “Bildbuch”, also premiered there in 2018. They are essayistic experimental films that may be far removed from the viewing habits of the majority of the audience, but have been celebrated at film festivals.
The French Newspaper Liberation was the first to announce the death of the legendary director, who was 91 years old.