Remembering Jean-Luc Godard…

French director Jean-Luc Godard passed away age 91.

Photos: MUBI

I don’t know how you met with Jean-Luc Godard, but I remember the first time watched a movie about him, which is Godard Mon Amour. When I watched Godard Mon Amour, it was beginning of summer and I was excited since discovering a new director, on the one hand, Godard was experiencing the painful excitement of creating a new wave of cinema amid the student protests in France in the 68s, of course in the movie. In one of the scenes in that movie, which is also one of the most famous scenes, Godard is asked when he is going to make a comedy movie, and Godard says: “When the people in Vietnam, Palestine and Yemen or the black people in America laugh.” That was the day I met Godard. 

Best known for A Woman is a Woman, Alphaville or The Chinese, Godard ended his life on September 13th by physician-assisted suicide. His wife Anne-Marie Miéville states that, “He was not sick, he was simply exhausted. So he had made the decision to end it. It was his decision and it was important for him that it be known.”

His relationship with cinema began in the 50s when he worked as a critic for the film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma, and he made his first movie Imaginary Lovers in 1960. With Imaginary Lovers, the French director made one of the first films of the French New Wave movement and began to change the language, aesthetics and form of cinema. Later than, Imaginary Lovers became a symbol of the French New Wave. Through the movie, Godard took improvised dialogues to close the reality of life. On the one hand, the locations of the movies were also changing, and the cameras were moving from the sets to the streets. Imaginary Lovers was also filmed outdoors mostly. Starting to break the rules, Godard’s line would gradually sharpen and he would develop a counter-cinema with his language and techniques. Although his language and narrative style changed with movies throughout his career, the focus of his camera would never change.

“A movie has a beginning, a middle and an end, will get those three goodies but necessarily in that order.”

Having made several films in a career that would last almost half a century, the director’s second movie A Woman is a Woman, described as a “new realist musical”. Maintaining his journey with movies like My Life to Live, Le Mepris and Pierrot le Fou, the director made another highly controversial movie, Chinese Girl in 1967. As can be seen in his other films, Chinese Girl had a Brechtian narrative. So much so that, in one scene of the movie, all the names on the blackboard were erased one by one, leaving only the names of Bertolt Brecht.

Chinese Girl

In the later years of his career, he preferred to make films that delved into the depths of the individual. Throughout his life, he always sought for the new one in film-making. Number Two, Goodbye to Language, and his last movie The Image Book are some of the best-known films of the French director.

A Picks from Godard’s Movies

The Image Book, 2018
Goodbye to Language, 2014
First Name: Carmen, 1983
2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, 1967
Pierrot le Fou, 1965
Le Mépris, 1963

Imaginary Lovers, 1960
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