Franco-Swiss director Jean-Luc Godard “passed away peacefully” on September 13, 2022 at his home in the small town of Rolle, Switzerland, according to his family members – Copyright AFP STRINGER
Nina LARSON with Fiahra GIBBONS in Paris
Jean-Luc Godard, one of the most influential directors of the 20th century and father of the French New Wave, died “peacefully at home” on Tuesday at the age of 91, his family said.
The legendary maverick blasted the conventions of 1960s cinema by filming his gangster novel Breathless on the streets of Paris with a handheld camera, using a shopping cart to pan the shots.
He continued to show his nose to Hollywood and the older generation of French filmmakers, again breaking the rules in Contempt (1963) with Brigitte Bardot and Pierrot le Fou in 1965.
“There will be no official (funeral) ceremony,” his family said. “He’s going to be cremated… And it really needs to happen in private.”
Stealth – and the decision to disappear in a cloud of smoke – is typical of Godard, who loved to surprise the world from his lair in the Swiss village of Rolle, where he lived as a virtual hermit for decades.
It was there that he died “peacefully at home” with his wife Anne-Marie Mieville by his side, according to his producers.
Godard’s influence is hard to underestimate: directors from Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson to Robert Altman, creator of M*A*S*H and The Gambler, often talk about their debt to him.
– The film “John Lennon and Che Guevara” –
French President Emmanuel Macron hailed the director’s talent and lamented the loss of a “national treasure”.
“Jean-Luc Godard, the most iconoclastic director of the New Wave, invented a decidedly modern, extremely free art. We have lost a national treasure, a genius,” Macron tweeted.
Godard’s house, with green shutters and a green bench, looked empty in front of the entrance on Tuesday, its curtains drawn, with an ashtray and a teapot thrown on the windowsill, an AFP reporter said.
Despite the director’s often difficult relationship with critics, Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian praised Godard, stating, “The last great modernist of the 20th century is dead.”
He compared him to other 1960s rebels such as John Lennon and Che Guevara.
“Or maybe Godard was the medium’s Socrates, believing that an untested movie is not worth having,” he added.
Guy Lodge of screen bible Variety tweeted that it was “arrogant to say ‘he changed everything’ but he actually changed a hell of a lot of things.”
Indeed, Godard became a “god” to many of the political and creative radicals of the 1960s who hung on every word of his often controversial and ironic statements about the state of cinema and the world.
– “Every edit is a lie” –
“All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl,” he once said, referring to the American actress Jean Seberg, the star of Breathless.
The film was a fashion statement as well as a landmark in cinema, her pixie cut, copied by millions, was struck by her laid-back Parisian badass.
“A story must have a beginning, a middle, and an end, but not necessarily in that order,” Godard later declared, “and “every edit is a lie.”
As he got older, Godard occasionally emerged from his Swiss retreat to make low-budget films, even into his 80s.
However, he never regained the ability to shock or move a large audience, as he did in the 1960s, although a small group of students remained stubbornly loyal to the master.
However, his occasional appearances at the Cannes Film Festival—often via FaceTime—still drew crowds, though he no longer enjoyed the influence he had when he managed to close the festival entirely in 1968 in solidarity with student protests in Paris.
Cannes also hosted the 2017 premiere of The Terrible, a tragicomic film about Godard’s doomed romance with French actress Anna Wiazemsky, directed by Oscar-winning The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius.