A Visionary

French New Wave pioneer Jean-Luc Godard has sadly passed away
By Ella Joyce | Film+TV | 13 September 2022

Jean-Luc Godard, 1968, photography by Larry Ellis

Legendary director Jean-Luc Godard has sadly passed away aged 91.

Undoubtedly, the Franco-Swiss filmmaker and his nuanced vision shaped the face of cinema forever. Beginning as a film critic writing for the iconic Cahiers du Cinéma in the 1950s, he then rose to prominence in the 1960s as a pioneer of the French New Wave movement and arguably the most popular director of the post-war era.

Godard’s seminal debut feature, Breathless, was released in 1960 and immediately cemented his position as an unparalleled visionary. Changing the course of cinema, Breathless heralded the arrival of cinematic modernism through a myriad of meta-fictional techniques that became synonymous with both Godard and those who continue to be inspired by him today.

Still, ‘Breathless’ by Jean-Luc Godard, 1960

His iconoclastic, improvised style continued to tear up the filmmaking rule book with works such as Alphaville (1965) starring Eddie Constantine and Contempt (1963) which saw Bridget Bardot take the lead. 1961 saw him marry Anna Karina, the woman who would become not only his muse but the leading lady of many of his films that followed, as she became his greatest collaborator of the decade. Touching upon themes such as politics, sexuality, militarism and everything in between, Godard’s commentary through cinema has contributed to conversations globally. Still continuing to create in his later years, a career revival in the 21st Century saw him explore the possibilities of digital technology in films such as Film Socialisme (2010) and Goodbye to Language (2014).

French President Emmanuel Macron has honoured the auteur, calling him “a national treasure.” While English filmmaker Edgar Wright also remembered his legacy in a tweet stating, “perhaps no other director inspired as many people to just pick up a camera and start shooting.”


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