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Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard at Berkeley, 1968.jpg
Godard in 1968
Born (1930-12-03)3 December 1930
Paris, France
Died 13 September 2022(2022-09-13) (aged 91)
Rolle, Switzerland
  • French
  • Swiss
  • Filmmaker
  • film critic
Years active 1950–2022
Notable work
Movement French New Wave
Partner(s) Anne-Marie Miéville (from 1978)
  • Golden Lion (1983)
  • Golden Bear (1965)
  • Honorary Academy Award (2010)
  • Honorary César (1987, 1998)
  • Prix Jean Vigo (1960)
Jean Luc Godard Signature.svg

Jean-Luc Godard ( GOD-ar GOH-dar; 3 December 1930 – 13 September 2022) was a French-Swiss film director, screenwriter, and film critic. He rose to prominence as a pioneer of the 1960s French New Wave film movement and was arguably the most influential French filmmaker of the post-war era. According to AllMovie, his work "revolutionized the motion picture form" through its experimentation with narrative, continuity, sound, and camerawork.

During his early career as a film critic for the influential magazine Cahiers du Cinéma, Godard criticized mainstream French cinema's "Tradition of Quality", which emphasized established convention over innovation and experimentation. In response, he and like-minded critics began to make their own films, challenging the conventions of traditional Hollywood in addition to French cinema. Godard first received global acclaim for his 1960 feature Breathless, helping to establish the New Wave movement. His work makes use of frequent homages and references to film history, and often expressed his political views; he was an avid reader of existentialism and Marxist philosophy, and in 1969 formed the Dziga Vertov Group with other radical filmmakers to promote political works. After the New Wave, his politics were less radical and his later films are about human conflict and artistic representation "from a humanist rather than Marxist perspective."

In a 2002 Sight & Sound poll, Godard ranked third in the critics' top ten directors of all time. He is said to have "generated one of the largest bodies of critical analysis of any filmmaker since the mid-twentieth century." His work has been central to narrative theory and has "challenged both commercial narrative cinema norms and film criticism's vocabulary." In 2010, Godard was awarded an Academy Honorary Award, but did not attend the award ceremony.

Godard was married twice, to actresses Anna Karina and Anne Wiazemsky, both of whom starred in several of his films. His collaborations with Karina—which included such critically acclaimed films as Vivre sa vie (1962), Bande à part (1964), and Pierrot le Fou (1965)—were called "arguably the most influential body of work in the history of cinema" by Filmmaker magazine.

At the age of 91, Godard died on 13 September 2022, at his home in Rolle, Switzerland.


Anna Karina, posters in Paris Metro, Fébruary 2020
Posters for a 2020 Godard retrospective in the Paris Métro

Godard has been recognized as one of the most influential filmmakers of the 20th century and one of the leaders of the French New Wave.

In 1969, film critic Roger Ebert wrote about Godard's importance in cinema:

Godard is a director of the very first rank; no other director in the 1960s has had more influence on the development of the feature-length film. Like Joyce in fiction or Beckett in theater, he is a pioneer whose present work is not acceptable to present audiences. But his influence on other directors is gradually creating and educating an audience that will, perhaps in the next generation, be able to look back at his films and see that this is where their cinema began.

Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino named a production company he founded A Band Apart, a reference to Godard's 1964 film.

Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci included a homage to Band of Outsiders in his film The Dreamers.

Godard's works and innovations were praised by notable directors such as Michelangelo Antonioni, Satyajit Ray, and Orson Welles. Fritz Lang agreed to take part in Godard's film Le Mépris due to his admiration of Godard as a director. Akira Kurosawa listed 'Breathless' as one of his 100 favorite films. Political activist, critic, and filmmaker Tariq Ali listed Godard's film Tout Va Bien as one of his ten favorite films of all time in the 2012 Sight and Sound critics' poll. American film critic Armond White listed Godard's film Nouvelle Vague as one of his top ten favorite films in the same poll.

Godard's films have influenced and inspired many directors, including Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Peter Bogdanovich, Brian De Palma, Oliver Stone, William Friedkin, Steven Soderbergh, Andrei Tarkovsky, Andrei Konchalovsky, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Abbas Kiarostami, Lars Von Trier, Atom Egoyan, D. A. Pennebaker, Claire Denis, Robert Altman, Jim Jarmusch, Takeshi Kitano, Gaspar Noé, John Waters, Mamoru Oshii, Shane Carruth, Stan Brakhage, Ken Loach, Kevin Macdonald, Abel Ferrara, Luca Guadagnino, Terence Davies, Paul Schrader, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wong Kar-wai, Edward Yang, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Wim Wenders, Chantal Akerman, Bela Tarr, Theo Angelopoulos, Raoul Peck, Glauber Rocha, Fernando Solanas, Octavio Getino, Emir Kusturica, Terrence Malick, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater, Harmony Korine, Darren Aronofsky, Bernardo Bertolucci, Dušan Makavejev, Marco Bellocchio, and Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Four of Godard's films are included on the British Film Institute (BFI) Sight and Sound magazine list of 100 Greatest Films: Breathless (13), Le Mépris (21), Pierrot le Fou (42), and Histoire(s) du cinéma (48).

Personal life and death

Godard was married twice, to two of his leading women: Anna Karina (1961–1965) and Anne Wiazemsky (1967–1979). Beginning in 1970, he collaborated personally and professionally with Anne-Marie Miéville. Godard lived with Miéville in Rolle, Switzerland from 1978 onwards, and was described by his former wife Karina as a "recluse".

His relationship with Karina in particular produced some of his most critically acclaimed films, and their relationship was widely publicized: The Independent described them as "one of the most celebrated pairings of the 1960s". Filmmaker magazine called their collaborations "arguably the most influential body of work in the history of cinema." Late in life, however, Karina said they no longer spoke to each other.

Through his father, he was the cousin of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, former President of Peru.

In 2017, Michel Hazanavicius directed a film about Godard, Redoubtable, based on the memoir One Year After (French: Un an après; 2015) by Wiazemsky. It centers on his life in the late 1960s, when he and Wiazemsky made films together. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017. Godard said that the film was a "stupid, stupid idea".

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