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Outspoken polemicist…

Jean-Luc Godard, the brilliant and polemical Franco-Swiss filmmaker whose work revolutionized cinema, has died. He was 91.

Godard resorted to assisted suicideTuesday in Switzerland, a family group spokesperson told Agence France-Presse.

Jean-Luc Godard died peacefully in the home, surrounded by family members, his wife, filmmaker Anne-Marie Mieville, and producers said in a statement. He’ll be cremated and you will see no official ceremony, they said.

A former film critic who wrote for the legendary Cahiers du Cinma during its heyday of the 1950s, Godard emerged onto the scene in 1960 along with his seminal debut feature, Breathless, which won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.

The Paris-set crime caper, which starred Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo, forever changed the span of movies and heralded the arrival of cinematic modernism. Using jump cuts, nods to the camera along with other meta-fictional devices, Breathless constantly interrupted and commented on the story since it was happening.

Indeed, Godards major contribution to cinema was his proven fact that a movie was both story it had been telling and the story of the movie itself how it had been made and the way the viewer apprehended it. Most of Godards films were, in a way, about film.

Within a career that spanned over fifty percent a hundred years, Godard directed nearly 70 features, documentaries, shorts and works for television. His oeuvre changed course many times, from his first features offering up sly pop-art homages to Hollywood movies to his overtly political films of the late 1960s and 70s, to his experiments with video and fragmented narratives in the late 70s and 80s, to his autobiographical and historical montage movies of the 90s and beyond.

Before end, Godard remained an outspoken polemicist and cinematic innovator, with later works like Film Socialisme (2010) and Goodbye to Language (2014) toying with 3D, camera-phone footage and also subtitles.

Those two movies played in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, where they won the Jury Prize and a particular Palme dOr, respectively, though Godard never received the fests top prize in his lifetime. Nor did he ever win Frances Cesar Award, that he was nominated twice, within the U.S., he was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2010.

Well-known for his acerbic and political commentary that graced his trove of writings, interviews and news conferences and also the dialogue and voiceovers of his films, Godard was an outspoken critic of from Charles de Gaulle to the Vietnam War to Hollywood to capitalism to filmmakers whose work he tore apart in his reviews or in public areas including movies by such contemporaries as fellow French New Wave director Francois Truffaut, with whom he publicly split in the late 1970s.

But Godard was also a caustic and hilarious satirist, filling his movies with scores of puns, witticisms and the usual slapstick. His love of life often crossed over into his public persona, where he hid behind tinted eyeglasses and clouds of cigarette or cigar smoke. In his later works, Godard tended to play the role of a deranged left-wing intellectual Groucho Marx, making wisecracks and political statements at will.

Among his many quotable lines, possibly the most famous originates from a voiceover in his second feature-length film, the stark espionage thriller Le Petit Soldat (1960): Photography is truth. And the cinema is truth twenty-four times per second.

Born in Paris on Dec. 3, 1930, Godard was the son of protestant parents who lived between France and Switzerland, moving permanently to the latter in 1933. His father, Paul, was your physician. His mother, Odile Monod, was the descendant of a famous Swiss pastor and the granddaughter of a wealthy banker near to the French poet Paul Valery, whose writings would later be cited in Godards movies.

An athletic child who loved soccer, skiing and basketball and who create a lifelong passion for tennis Godard was also an unhealthy student who needed three tries to pass his baccalaurat exam. After senior high school, he enrolled at the Sorbonne in Paris but soon ditched class for the cinemas and movie clubs of the Latin Quarter, where he crossed paths with fellow cinphiles Truffaut and Jacques Rivette.

The three of these, alongside Claude Chabrol and Maurice Scherer (aka Eric Rohmer), began writing for an assessment called the Gazette du Cinma. In 1952, Godard published his first articles in the Cahiers du Cinma, that was founded the prior year. He reviewed Alfred Hitchcocks Strangers on a Train (1951) and wrote an essay entitled Defense and Illustration of Classical Dcoupage that could serve as a basis for his critical work of the 1950s, including his influential 1956 article Montage, My Fine Care.

But Godard was soon ousted from the Cahiers group after robbing the magazines cash box and running away to Switzerland, where he’d continue to direct the short documentary Operation Beton (1955). The theft had not been the initial for the young film critic, who was simply regarded as a kleptomaniac, stealing from cafes, the homes of friends and acquaintances and also from his grandfathers book collection.

Time for Paris in 1956 following a stint in Swiss television and a stay at a psychiatric hospital in Lausanne, Godard worked for just two years as a publicist for 20th Century Fox, writing press materials for Hollywood releases in France. He continued to pen reviews for the Cahiers du Cinma and directed three shorts: All of the Boys Are Called Patrick (1957); A TALE of Water (1958), co-directed with Truffaut; and Charlotte and Her Boyfriend (1958), the latter featuring Belmondo.

Belmondo would continue to play the snide gangster Michel Poiccard in Godards breakthrough debut, Breathless, with Hollywood starlet Jean Seberg portraying his NY Herald Tribune-touting love interest. Predicated on a scenario by Truffaut (itself predicated on a true-crime story) and shot in 1959 on an ultra-low budget the same as $90,000 today the production experienced Godards constant doubts and mood swings, nearly turning out to be a tragedy. Instead, Breathless became a sensation when it had been released another year, turning its 28-year-old director right into a star himself.

The general public and critical success of Breathless would mark the triumph of the French New Wave, with Godards film joining Truffauts The 400 Blows (1959) and Chabrols Le Beau Serge (1958) as harbingers of a younger, freer and much more irreverent sort of cinema that has been a long way off from the majority of the studio productions being made at that time.

Godard would continue to shoot a slew of movies in Breathless wake, most of them now regarded as his greatest and probably his most accessible works. He was also coveted many times by Hollywood throughout that period and at one point was mounted on direct Warren Beatty in Bonnie and Clyde before Arthur Penn took over.

After Le Petit Soldat (eventually released in 1963), he made 15 more features through the entire decade, tinkering with different genres, styles and types of storytelling. His best 60s films are the musical menage a trois A FEMALE Is really a Woman (1961), the prostitution drama Vivre Sa Vie (1962), the lush behind-the-scenes tragedy Contempt (1963), the tongue-in-cheek gangster flick Bande a component (1964), the avant garde sci-fi caper Alphaville (1965), the romantic thriller Pierrot le Fou (1965), the verite-style youth movie Masculin Feminin (1966), the banlieue-set study Several Things I UNDERSTAND About Her (1967) and the dark, deconstructed road movie Week-end (1967).

A lot of Godards early masterpieces starred the Danish-born model-turned-actress Anna Karina, who played the role of Veronica Dreyer in Le Petit Soldat and whom the director continued to marry in 1961. Both could have a prolific if highly tumultuous relationship a few of it fictionalized in Contempt, with Brigitte Bardot standing set for Karina that ended in divorce in 1965. 2 yrs later, Godard wed the young French actress Anne Wiazemsky, with whom he remained married until 1979.

Wiazemsky, who began her acting career in Robert Bressons Au Hasard Balthazar (1966), was initially cast by Godard in his Maoist student movie La Chinoise (1967). That film, alongside Week-end and the events of May 1968, marked a turning point in the auteurs work toward his overtly political efforts of the late 60s and early 70s. (The transition was fictionalized in Michel Hazanavicius 2017 film Godard Mon Amour.)

Throughout that period, Godard joined a band of left-wing activists and filmmakers, including director Jean-Pierre Gorin, to create the Dziga Vertov Group. He signed several features in the name of the collective, notably Wind From the East (1970), Tout va bien (1972) and Letter to Jane (1972). The final two featured American star Jane Fonda, then at the height of her anti-Vietnam War activism.

Godard stayed prolific through the entire 1970s, though he ceased making purely fictional works and shot numerous documentaries, including two long series for television: the 10-hour Six fois deux in 1976 and the five-hour France/tour/detour/deux/enfants in 1979. He also made an experimental music doc, One + One (1968), which featured the Rolling Stones recording Sympathy for the Devil in London.

By the finish of the decade, Godard had split with the majority of his friends from the Cahiers du Cinma days, going as far as to publicly insult Truffaut in a 1978 interview by claiming he previously no idea steps to make movies. Truffaut responded with a letter telling Godard to help keep centered on his next autobiographical movie, that ought to be called A Shit Is really a Shit. The glory days of the brand new Wave were over.

In 1977, Godard moved back again to Switzerland, settling in to the quiet lakeside city of Rolle with Miville, who became his partner following a severe motorcycle accident left him hospitalized many years earlier. Both would stay in Rolle for the others of Godards life, with the latters production company, Sonimage, operating from the building where they lived.

Carrying out a failed effort to create a Bugsy Siegel movie called The Story, with Francis Ford Coppola producing and Diane Keaton attached among the leads, Godard reemerged in 1980 along with his first fictional work in greater than a decade, Every Man for Himself. Starring Isabelle Huppert, Jacques Dutronc and Nathalie Baye, the film utilized a fragmented narrative and extreme slow-motion sequences to portray the lives of three disparately connected characters: a prostitute, a divorc and his ex-wife.

Premiering in competition in Cannes, Every Man for Himself was hailed by certain critics as a significant comeback for Godard and would score a lot more than 600,000 admissions in France, rendering it his biggest domestic success because the 1960s. It kicked off a fresh, more spiritual and poetic phase in his oeuvre that could manifest itself in the half-dozen features he shot through the next decade, including Passion (1982), First Name: Carmen (1983), Detective (1985), Hail Mary (1985) and King Lear (1987).

King Lear, that was made by Hollywood action movie giants Golan-Globus and featured the eclectic cast of Norman Mailer, Molly Ringwald, Woody Allen, theater director Peter Sellars and Godard himself as a madcap character named Professor Pluggy, is exemplary of the type of dense, difficult, absurd and exquisitely crafted movies he made through the latter 1 / 2 of his life. Critical reception for King Lear, like for some of the auteurs efforts, was extremely divisive, with The Washington Post condemning Godards utter disregard for a sustained, coherent presentation of his ideas and the LA Times claiming it a work of certified genius.

The director continued his experiments in fiction through the entire 1990s with movies just like the Alain Delon starrer Nouvelle Vague (1990), Gerard Depardieus Hlas pour moi (1993) and the Sarajevo-set PERMANENTLY Mozart (1996), that have been championed by some critics but didn’t garner a lot of a theatrical following.

Throughout that period, Godard also completed an enormous 266-minute project entitled Histoire(s) du cinema, which first screened in Cannes in 1988 and was broadcast on the French cable network Canal Plus. Made up of interviews, clips from classic films, archive footage along with other images edited together in collage-like fashion, the eight-part Histoire(s) revisited both movie history and the turbulent times of the 20th century, crisscrossing the task of Cahiers-championed directors like Howard Hawks and Hitchcock with pivotal events like World War II and the Holocaust.

Histoire(s), though never widely distributed, is currently considered a significant section of Godards filmography. Within an interview with the French paper Libration published years following its release, he described the project as similar to my family scrapbook but additionally that of several others, of all generations that believed in the dawn. Only the cinema could gather the I and the we.

The ideas about montage within Godards early critical writings will be apply in a lot of his late work, from the Histoire(s) du cinema to final features like Notre musique (2004), Film socialisme (2010), Goodbye to Language (2014) and The Image Book (2018). Each found the director tinkering with new techniques, like the use of cellular phone footage in Film Socialisme and 3D in Goodbye to Language, which Godard distorted into beguiling abstract compositions.

He also became more of a recluse in his old age, refusing to provide interviews, accept prizes or happen to be major festivals like Cannes. When he was offered the French National Order of Merit, he turned it down with the reply: I dont like taking orders, and I dont have any merits. So when he was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2010, he refused to go to Los Angeles to simply accept it personally. Mieville told the media that Godard, then 79, wont head to America, hes getting too old for that sort of thing. Can you go all this way just for a bit of metal?

The honorary Oscar also sparked a controversy regarding Godards alleged anti-Semitism, with journalists and researchers digging up quotes from his past in addition to a scene from his 1976 documentary Here and today where he juxtaposed images of Golda Meir and Adolf Hitler. In his otherwise laudatory and finely researched 2008 biography Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard, longtime New Yorker film critic Richard Brody uncovered other statements about Jews created by the French auteur, which he’d never address or apologize for.

Despite his status self-determined or not as a cultural pariah, especially from the 1970s onward, Godard could have a massive influence on films and filmmakers across the world in the decades following initial release of Breathless. New Waves that sprang up over the planet, from Brazil to Czechoslovakia to Japan, owed a significant debt to him, as did generations of American directors emerging in his wake, including Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, Paul Schrader, Peter Bogdanovich and Quentin Tarantino, who named his production company Bande a component in his honor.

Godards experiments with editing, jump cuts, title cards and various shooting formats would likewise have a major effect on mediums outside the cinema, including music videos and television commercials. Its arguable that the collage ramifications of the initial videos to seem on MTV in the 1980s, which may influence from TV ads to the frenzied, hyper-cut films of Michael Bay, wouldn’t normally exist had Godard not defied traditional notions of narrative and continuity in his work.

In his lyrical and melancholic 1995 autobiographical film, JLG/JLG Self-Portrait in December, the director, who appeared onscreen ruminating in his Swiss home and wandering across the banks of Lake Geneva, discussed the philosophy that fueled a lot of his cinema specially the notion that his films were, most importantly, about juxtaposing different concepts, characters, moods, mediums and narrative techniques through the art of montage.

A graphic isn’t strong since it is brutal or fantastic, but as the association of ideas is distant, he said. Distant and just.

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