Obituary The Revolution That Changed Filmmaking

JEAN-LUC GODARD, born in Paris on December 3, 1930, died last week in Switzerland, taking his own life. He is the son of Odile and Paul Godard. His wealthy parents came from Protestant families of Franco–Swiss descent.

He will become the most dangerous of the French cinema and one of the founders of the 1960s Nouvelle Vague (New Wave), which created a new, revolutionary way in filmmaking.

He is perhaps the most important French filmmaker of the post-war period. He and other filmmakers revolutionized film by experimenting with story, continuity, sound and camerawork. During his lifetime, he made over 100 films – a staggering output.

He began his career as a cinematographer for the influential magazine Cahiers du Cinema. He criticized the critical French cinema and established conventions for innovation and experimentation. In response, he and like-minded filmmakers such as Rivette, Chabrol, Truffaut, Agnes Varda and Chis Marker, began to make their own films that challenged traditional norms and Hollywood escapism. .

Godard’s first film, A Bout de Souffle (Breathless), made in 1960, received international acclaim, and helped launch the New Wave movement.

His work is characterized by its quasi-documentary style; He took his camera out of the studio, into the streets, shooting handheld sequences, which were unknown at the time. Using portable equipment and requiring little or no set-up time, Godard’s films used original, pre-recorded studio sound, and the original film stock available to it shoots in bad light conditions.

Godard also contributed traditional narrative techniques, including the use of discontinuity, fragmented story lines and length. The combination of realism, subjectivity, and literary intent creates a complex but often disturbing story.

Raoul Coutard was her photographer of choice. He wanted Breathless to be shot like a documentary, with a light handheld camera and minimal additional lighting; Coutard was known as a photographer and worked for the intelligence service of the French army in Indochina. The photographs taken by Coutard were shot from a wheelchair by Godard. Although Godard prepared a traditional screenplay, he abandoned it and wrote down the dialogue every day as they filmed it.

In his films, he often praises and makes references to older works in the film canon. He is a political filmmaker who does not hide his extreme views. He can be said to be a fusion of existentialism and Marxism, and later he became an avid Maoist.

In 1969, he founded the Dziga Vertov group (in honor of the great Soviet novelist of that name) with other radical filmmakers to promote films with a political message.

The Cinematheeque Française in the Quartier Latin, founded by Henri Langlois and George Franjou, became one of his regular haunts. Godard was part of a generation for whom cinema was essential. He said: “In the 1950s the cinema was as important as bread – but that was not the case.”

He left Paris in 1952 for Switzerland to join his mother. He was in a relationship with his mother’s lover, who worked at the Grande Dixence factory. Godard worked as a carpenter in the yard and saw the possibility of making a documentary film about it.

Thanks to Swiss friends who gave him a 35mm camera, he was able to shoot his film. He gave the name Operation Beton (Operation Concrete). The company that built the wall bought the film for publicity.

Godard’s most famous period as a director spans from his first feature, Breathless (1960), to Week End (1967). Although his work is now considered radical in its own right, the moment stands in contrast to what immediately followed, when Godard criticized much of the history of cinema as bourgeois. and therefore there is no need.

Godard’s next film was Le Petit Soldat (The Little Soldier, 1963), about the Algerian War of Independence, and because of its political content, was banned by the French government for the next two years.

La Chinoise (1967), saw Godard in his political language. The film focuses on a group of students and deals with the ideas emerging from the student movement in contemporary France. Released before the events of May 1968, the film first depicted student uprisings.

Much of Godard’s early work can be read as Marxist. His Marxism is not clearly understood. The constant fixation of Godard’s cinematic period is the consumerism of the bourgeoisie, the transformation of everyday life and the alienation of the individual – all important aspects of criticism. and Marx in capitalism.

The period from May 1968 to 1970 is known as his “militant” phase. He noted Godard’s use of a unique rhetorical style in his films and in his public speeches.

Inspired by the student revolution of May ’68, Godard led the protests that closed the 1968 Cannes Film Festival in solidarity with students and workers. Godard said that there was not a single film shown at the festival that represented their origins.

Amidst the upheavals of the late 1960s, Godard became interested in “political filmmaking.” Although many of his films from 1968 to 1972 were feature-length, they were low-key and focused on film.

He made several films about the Vietnam War and participated in Loin du Vietnam (Far from Vietnam, 1967), an anti-war project, whose seven films were directed by Godard, Claude Lelouch, Joris Ivens and others.

In 1978, Godard was commissioned by the Mozambican government to make a short film. During that time, his experience with Kodak film led him to criticize the stock film as “a kind of racist” because it did not show the meaning, nuance or complexity of blackness. Black or tan skin.

Godard’s involvement with Bertolt Brecht is based on his attempt to change Brecht’s idea of ​​the epic theater and his idea of ​​separation, by separating the elements of the medium (drama in Brecht” case, but in Godard’s, film). Brecht’s influence is evident throughout much of his work.

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

JOHN GREEN

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