"Photography is truth. The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second." -
"Godard is a constant source of inspiration. Before I do anything, I go back and look at as many of his films as I can, as a reminder of what’s possible." -
Jean-Luc Godard was born in Switzerland
but made his name in Paris
as a film critic, writing for the magazine Cahiers du Cinema
founded by Andre Bazin and part of a circle of friends that included, François Truffaut
, Eric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Rivette and others
. Together they dreamed of shaking up what they felt was the inferior French films of the 50s, taking inspiration from American films they saw at the Cinematheque and believing the director was the artist and that it was possible to make films which were as personal as a book was to an author. Godard however gradually became something bigger. To put it simply, Godard is to the movies what James Joyce
is to literature and Pablo Picasso is to painting or Bob Dylan
to folk music. All three artists had a firm awareness of the history of their mediums, a huge range of references and a strong intellectual vision and they expanded the medium to areas never before seen, inventing new techniques that were controversial at the time but eventually provoked many imitators
who tended to be more successful than their inspirations. Godard was no different.
His films are studied and viewed by people across the world. They are taught in film schools whose graduates go on to create ad films and music videos or go into other fields but who follow his inspiration or react against it one way or another. He had a huge following among the New Hollywood
. Francis Ford Coppola
at one point presented his films in America for release and he and Godard planned to collaborate. Martin Scorsese
has always testified to his influence as well. That said, in later years, he became very unflattering to American films and especially the films of Steven Spielberg
though he liked Woody Allen
enough to make a movie about him(Meeting WA
) and cast him in one of his works. In Europe, he's an inescapable influence with directors dividing movies pre and post Godard with his Meaningful Name
and his own love for puns leading to the easy word association of God/Art.
He's famous in America primarily for his 60s films
which strongly influenced college students and rock musicians at the time. He collaborated with The Rolling Stones
and recorded the original recording sessions of Sympathy for the Devil
. This was a period of many radical films that were Genre Deconstructions
of Film Noir
, Science Fiction
, The Musical
and even a film about film-making like Contempt
starring Brigitte Bardot
and director Fritz Lang As Himself
. The film Breathless
pioneered the Jump Cut
which was later adopted and overused by later directors and ironically in the kind of action films and music videos which were world's away from the kind of films Godard made. He himself became involved in leftist political causes which made him unfashionable in the United States and controversial around the world, despite this he remains active to this day, still as untamed and unpredictable as ever.
The Academy gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions in 2010, at a private ceremony that was not part of the main viewing. Godard refused to attend citing this, saying, "It's not the Oscars!"
and partly because of his contempt for awards in general.
Works by Jean-Luc Godard with their own trope pages include: