With a cigar in his mouth and a rebellious spirit, Jean-Luc Godard marked generations of film buffs with his cult films such as “A bout de souffle” or “Le contempt”, his formal innovations which made him a figure of the New Wave and his Provocation.
“I only want to talk about cinema. Why talk about anything else? With cinema, we talk about everything, we get to everything”, said with his drawling accent the Franco-Swiss, who “has messed up the cinema “, according to François Truffaut, his accomplice, for a time, of the New Wave.
“JLG”, who has shot around fifty feature films since the beginning of the 1960s – to which are added dozens of short or video formats, was a figure both familiar and enigmatic, like his films.
One of the most studied filmmakers in the world, he has been honored with a César and an Oscar for his career, as well as a special Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2018.
The films of the man with the tortoiseshell glasses stood out with their original, nervous editing, a very personal use of literary quotations, or their provocative spirit.
“JLG” has always divided critics and the public: for some, he is a genius, for others a filmmaker with hermetic work.
He knew how to occupy the field of film theory like no other, delivering his precepts: “When we go to the cinema, we raise our heads. When we watch television, we lower it” or “the cinema is not at the ‘shelter from time. He is shelter from time’.
– “Star of his generation” –
“We have lost the measure of what he represented in the imagination of the Western world in the 60s and 70s. He was the star of his generation”, underlined the former director of Cahiers du cinema Jean-Michel Frodo.
Born in Paris on December 3, 1930 to a doctor father and a mother from a wealthy Protestant family, he grew up in Switzerland in a refined environment.
He likes sport, hardly obtains the baccalaureate in Lausanne. His parents divorced, his mother died in 1954. Tough years, bohemian life. Jean-Luc, a kleptomaniac, is banished from his family.
Enrolled at the Sorbonne to study ethnology, he preferred to attend film clubs. At the Cahiers du cinema, where he signed in the 1950s, he rubbed shoulders with creative and turbulent young people: François Truffaut, Éric Rohmer or Claude Chabrol, all opposed to “dad’s cinema”.