Director Jean-Luc Godard dies aged 91


Film director Jean-Luc Godard died on Tuesday aged 91.

The legendary Franco-Swiss movie-maker was one of the world’s most acclaimed directors, known for French New Wave films Breathless and Contempt, which inspired a generation of directors including Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese.

Friends close to Godard revealed his death on Tuesday in French newspaper Liberation. A cause of death is yet to be revealed.

Film director Jean-Luc Godard died on Tuesday aged 91, newspaper Liberation has reported (the filmmaker is pictured in 2010)

Godard’s movies broke with the established conventions of French cinema in 1960 and helped kickstart a new way of filmmaking, complete with handheld camera work, jump cuts and existential dialogue. 

During his career, he joined many of his contemporaries in criticising mainstream French cinema for its so-called ‘tradition of quality’.

He said it ’emphasised craft over innovation, privileged established directors over new directors, and preferred the great works of the past to experimentation’.

Quentin Tarantino, director of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs in the 1990s, is often cited as one of a more recent generation of boundary-bending tradition that Godard and his Paris Left Bank cohorts initiated.

Tarantino was such a fan of Godard, he even named his production company after one of his films, A Band Apart. 

Talent: Godard's movies broke with the established conventions of French cinema in 1960 and helped kickstart a new way of filmmaking

Talent: Godard’s movies broke with the established conventions of French cinema in 1960 and helped kickstart a new way of filmmaking

Born in Paris in 1930, Godard grew up and went to school in Nyon, on the banks of Lake Geneva. 

He returned to Paris after finishing school in 1949 where he soon became part of the post-war New Wave scene.

He began his career in movies by writing for film magazines before releasing his first feature, Breathless, in 1960, which immediately caught the attention of critics.

Godard went on to make back to back seminal movies throughout the 1960s, including Le Petit Soldat, a controversial feature that suggested the French government condoned torture, which was banned until 1963.

Godard was married twice, to actresses Anna Karina and Anne Wiazemsky, both of whom starred in several of his films. 

It was during his four year marriage to Karina from 1961-1965, that Godard enjoyed some of his most memorable screen collaborations, including in Vivre sa vie (1962), Bande à part (1964) and Pierrot le Fou (1965). 

Acclaimed filmmaker: Godard on the set of his 1963 movie Le Mépris with Brigitte Bardot

Acclaimed filmmaker: Godard on the set of his 1963 movie Le Mépris with Brigitte Bardot 

He was married to Wiazemsky from 1967 to 1979, with the actress starring in his movies La Chinoise (1967) and One Plus One (1968).

Godard met Swiss filmmaker Anne-Marie Miéville in 1970 with the two becoming collaborators before beginning a romantic relationship which continued until his death. 

He also worked with the Rolling Stones on the film Sympathy for the Devil in 1968. 

Godard had continued success in later life. His 2001 film In Praise of Love was selected for the Cannes film festival.

The film focused on an elderly Jewish couple whose life rights are potentially being bought by Steven Spielberg, which was reportedly meant as a manner of condemning Schindler’s List.

Duo: Godard was married to actress Anna Karina from 1961-1965, a period in which he enjoyed some of his most memorable screen collaborations

Duo: Godard was married to actress Anna Karina from 1961-1965, a period in which he enjoyed some of his most memorable screen collaborations

He once explained: ‘Spielberg thinks black and white is more serious than colour.

‘It’s phony thinking. To him it’s not phony, I think he’s honest to himself, but he’s not very intelligent, so it’s a phony result. … ‘[He] used [Oskar Schindler] and this story and all the Jewish tragedy as if it were a big orchestra, to make a stereophonic sound from a simple story.’

His 2014 film Goodbye to Language saw him pick up the jury prize at Cannes, and 2018’s Image Book, was awarded a ‘special Palme d’Or’ at the prestigious film festival.

The filmmaker was awarded an Academy Honorary Award in 2010 but did not attend the ceremony.

Successful partnership: He was married to Anne Wiazemsky from 1967 to 1979, with the actress starring in his movies La Chinoise (1967) and One Plus One (1968)

Successful partnership: He was married to Anne Wiazemsky from 1967 to 1979, with the actress starring in his movies La Chinoise (1967) and One Plus One (1968)

Film fans have flooded social media with tributes to the late director following the sad news of his death.

One person tweeted: ‘Sad to hear about Jean-Luc Goddard. My first viewing of Breathless remains one of the most important moments for my love of French New Wave and cinema as a whole.’

Another added: ‘Sad to hear about the passing of Jean-Luc Goddard. A legend of the film industry.’

And a third wrote: ‘Jean-Luc Goddard passed away. While I would never claim to be an expert on the man’s filmography, if you have any interest in cinema as an art form at all, see Week-End.’

Godard had continued success in later life. Pictured receiving an honary César Award in 1998

Godard had continued success in later life. Pictured receiving an honary César Award in 1998

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