Jean-Luc Godard dies, one of the great cinema of our time

Juan Pedro Quinonero

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Has died Jean-Luc Godard (Paris, 1930), one of the great giants of the cinema of our time. As a director, critic, historian, he had an important influence on the evolution of the history of art in the 20th century.

Written press, radio and TV broke the news mid-morning on Tuesday, without specifying the exact circumstances of the death. Godard had lived for years in a small town on the Franco-Swiss border.

Godard was born on a Parisian street where he met for many years the first audiovisual group in the State. Relatively “symbolic” detail, in the life and work of a single character.

He was one of the patriarchs of
the new wave
the film school that profoundly renewed the national cinematographic art, significantly influencing many North American and European directors.

What Chabrol, Truffaut and RhomerAmong the rest of the Nouvelle Vague masters, Godard began his career as a critic, in ‘Cahiers de Cinéma’, a canonical reference. The reviews and studies published in that magazine helped to consolidate the position of cinema in the history of great art in the 20th century, establishing critical criteria that began to create a new canon. Godard’s works on North American film noir, Truffaut’s, Rhomer’s and Chabrol’s criticisms on Alfred hitchcockthey transformed to a considerable extent the classic, traditional references, until then. Godard even said that Hitchcock was, with Pablo Picasso, the greatest creator of visual forms of the 20th century.

Scene from 'Breathless'
Scene from ‘Breathless’ – ABC

As a director, Godard breaks into the history of cinema with a legendary work, ‘À bout de souffle’ (‘Breathless’, ‘At the end of the escape‘, 1960) is one of the founding works of the Nouvelle Vague. Little less than a hundred films and cinematographic essays followed, where masterpieces, incomprehensible works, (failed) temptations of radical political agitation, filmic reflections on the history and metamorphosis of cinema follow one another.

The fifteen films of the first Godard, from ‘Breathless’ to ‘Week End’ (1967) contributed to radically transform French cinema. Great American directors (Tarantino) have recalled his influence in the US.

During the days of the month of May 1968Godard took a “radical” direction in his life and work, considering himself a “Maoist”, creating works that are highly symptomatic of his failed attempt to “unite” political agitation and film narrative.

Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard

After that parenthesis, Godard took many other directions, between intimate, testimonial and reflective. Carmen, Sarajevo, Lear, among other characters, not only symbolic, and historical events / crossroads, were “used” by the filmmaker to prolong a very deep reflection on cinema, the visual story, which culminated in his series of eight stories, graduates ‘Stories of the cinema’ (1998). Forgetting Goya, the true «father» of cinema, Godard thought that the painting of Maneth was at the origin of the cinematographic narrative.

From there, Godard reflects ceaselessly, between scholarship, criticism and the history of visual stories, on the progress of the world and the crises that occur in European civilization.

The work of the first Godard is closely related to his love affairs with the writer, director and actress Ana Wiazemskiand the actress Ana Karinawho was something like his muse, for a few years. Since the 90s of the last century, Godard shared with the director Anne-Marie Mieville his life and part of his creation, in parallel.

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