Jean-Luc Godard, author without ego

In a career spanning nearly 60 years and more than 40 feature films—a career that helped codify one of the most important formal movements in the history of the medium and exploded its capacity for political commentary—Jean- Luke Goddard did almost everything except make a two-hour film. That habitual brevity could cast the French-Swiss filmmaker, who died Tuesday at the age of 91, as a shrewd economical master of the story (he was) or as a mischievous little boy, until he himself. doesn’t tire (that too). But his audacious mix of vigor and poise ensured that Goddard’s films were copied and copied and copied, though never to be repeated in a way that fools a viewer more than a few frames.

Goddard was born in Paris in 1930 to a physician and heir to an investment banking fortune. His childhood was interrupted by World War II and the rise of fascism in Europe; He and his family spent most of the war in Switzerland, making only a brief return to France. As a teen Goddard wasn’t a movie obsessive, but rather the kind of charismatic quasi layout that dot the upper crust. He thought he could paint, or write novels, or become an anthropologist, but was a disinterested student. By 1950, however, when he had more or less closed his classes at the Sorbonne—Godard had fallen out with a group of young enthusiasts who soon became important pawns of France, including totem founders . Cinema Notebook,

This cadre of critics turned filmmakers, including François Truffaut, Eric Romer and Jacques Rivet, who became known as the French New Wave. The “tradition of quality” of French cinema: directors rejected what Truffaut called, the “tradition of quality” of French cinema: films that were too desperate for recognition as literature or the visual arts of the past . He instead argued for a new approach that took advantage of the unique capabilities of the medium and made room for the intertextual allusions, existential rifts and political allegation that marked their interactions with one another. Truffaut’s 1959 debut, 400 blowsIn many ways the movement was the big bang, a film that makes the youth feel both isolated and endless and ends with the main character staring straight at the audience.

Goddard’s own debut the following year, breathless, follows a young man who murders a police officer before meeting up with an unknown lover—an American transplant. The man is obsessed with Humphrey Bogart, and although he lives in the lowest, harshest conditions for a young Frenchman at the time, all of that is filtered through a pop-cultural influence, where every movement is self-evident. Becomes aware, every tick is learned. ,breathless It’s like: Isn’t this true for all of us?) Viewers need not strain to find the neurotic self-inquiry in a film whose first line translates to, “After all, I’m an asshole. ”

In instinct apart from the postmodern blood of Imaginism, breathless became famous for its great technological innovation, the use of jump cuts. Beyond its obvious practical benefits (time-saving, moving plot), the technique has the effect of making a character’s movement between moments of moral puzzlement both immediate and arbitrary. It also clarifies the director’s presence on what is happening on screen. This annoying reminder and the tension between the documentary style of photography and lighting makes breathless One of the most fantastical films of the 20th century, surreal and fantasy all at once.

Many of Goddard’s early works, including the 1961 decade a woman is a woman-where a character played by Jean-Paul Belmondo, who played the lead role in breathlessSays he wants to watch a TV broadcast of breathless—Star his first wife, actress Anna Karina. It was through Karina that Goddard learned the power that film star Karisma has over audiences, and the power that a filmmaker can gain by restraining it. in 1962 live your lifeWhere Kareena’s maternal grandfather resorts to sex work after leaving her husband and young child to pursue a career in films, she and her ex-husband speak for more than eight-and-a-half minutes, before anyone’s face is exposed to anything. Visible in but a cloudy cafe mirror.

The sharpness with which Goddard understood the noise in young people’s minds was not limited to exploring their cinematic interests. In the late 1960s, he began making explicitly political films, although these, too, existed in a world influenced by commercial entertainment. An intertitled in 1966 Male Female refers to the characters as “children of Marx and Coca-Cola”. In 1968 he and Truffaut opposed the Cannes Film Festival on the grounds that the films they were showing were not in solidarity with the activists. A decade later, after being commissioned by Mozambique’s government to make a short film, he exasperated Kodak for its inability to capture nuance in the dark skin of its film stock.

In a catalog that includes musical comedy and interrogation, the Shakespearean 3-D adaptation isn’t actually about dogs translating couples’ arguments and experiments into handheld digital photography—Goddard’s personal discomfort never came out of the frame. does not come out.

Goddard is one of the most widely cited figures in the film. You probably know many of his theories, even if they are not attributed to him: “A film has a beginning, a middle, and an end, although not necessarily in the same order”; “Every edit is a lie”; “Photography is Truth – Cinema is Truth 24 times per second”; “Art is not a reflection of reality, it is a reflection of reality”; “All you need for a movie is a girl and a gun.” The last is undoubtedly his most repeated, and seems to have been absorbed as invisible marketing wisdom by studio executives around the world. But Goddard attributed this to American director DW Griffith; He was just borrowing it. For an artist whose work was so gleefully intertextual, it’s fitting that Goddard’s most famous advice was taken from someone whose technique he distorted and politics he certainly hated.

On Tuesday, after news of his death spread in the press, another quote from Goddards began circulating online, notable not for its cleanliness, but for its respect. In a 1983 interview film quarterlyThey said:

I find it useless to keep offering “autobiography” to the public. In Venice, when I received the award of the Golden Lion, I said that I probably deserved this lion’s mane and maybe the tail. Everything in between should go to everyone who works on a photo: paws to the director of photography, face to the editor, body to the actors. I don’t believe in the seclusion of an artist and a writer with a capital “A”. … In general, without considering the problems of the director today there is a tendency to consider that behind him are many other figures equally important in filmmaking.

He was right about the labor that actors and crew members put into filmmaking, and about the creative results of their work. But some filmmakers did more to advance the idea of ​​an autobiography, or to argue for its value. The authorship in Goddard’s work is inescapable – in the way he defies the rote reality of old cinema to approach it emotionally – and is full of philosophical, as against the simplest of a thousand concerns and references stories. defend.

Goddard died at his home in Rolle, Switzerland, on the northern shore of Lake Geneva, where he reportedly underwent an assisted suicide procedure that was permitted under Swiss law. his lawyer told new York Times that Goddard was suffering from “Multiple Disabled Distortions,” While a member of the family told several newspapers that he “Not sick – he was just tired.” (Perhaps the more telling, though equally cryptic, quote, said the lawyer Times That his client “couldn’t live like you and me.”) Whatever weariness he created in the 10th decade of his life kept him from work. His last release, 2018’s image bookA prismatic essay, the film argues, at least from some angles, that the cinema of the West has silenced reductive narratives about the rest of the world, particularly the Middle East, while perpetuating its own history.

roughly a work of collage, image book Turns out excerpts from other films—some famous, some Goddard’s—to such an extent that many are barely recognizable, and most begin to feel completely new. Without the benefit of actors or script, the writer’s hand reaches new ends, tapping the familiar into a new rhythm through history.

paul thompson is a writer based in Los Angeles. their work has come to the fore Rolling stone, New York magazine, and GQ,

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