Film director Jean-Luc Godard, father of French New Wave, dies at 91

The acclaimed director championed a revolution that used new techniques to introduce subject matter that had remained off the screen until then

Jean-Luc Godard died
Film director Jean-Luc Godard.getty

French-Swiss director Jean-Luc Godard, father of the French New Wave that revolutionized filmmaking in the 1960s, has died at the age of 91, said the daily Libération. Godard, director of films such as Vivre sa Vie, La Chinoise and Goodbye to Language, led the cinematic revolution that imposed new techniques to treat subject matter that had remained off the screen until then.

A writer for the legendary magazine Cahiers du Cinéma in post-war France, Godard was critical of the filmmaking of the time and set out to make his own movies. The 1960 Breathless was his first major international triumph, starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg. The movie revolutionized cinematic language with innovative editing, groundbreaking framing and a novel use of sound. Alphaville, Week-end and The Contempt are some other of his works in which he did not avoid political commentary.

Jean-Luc Godard and Brigitte Bardot on the set of 'Le Mépris' ('Contempt').
Jean-Luc Godard and Brigitte Bardot on the set of 'Le Mépris' ('Contempt'). Sunset Boulevard (Getty)

Godard was born in Paris on December 3, 1930. His parents were Swiss and, during World War II, the whole family returned to Switzerland. Years later he moved back to France to study at the Sorbonne. During his university years and thanks to his constant visits to the Cinémathèque, he befriended other future filmmakers such as François Truffaut, Eric Rohmer and Jacques Rivette. Together with other famous names such as Claude Chabrol or Alain Resnais, this group made up what became known as the French New Wave or Nouvelle Vague.

Godard was married twice. His first wife was the actress Anna Karina, who starred in many of his films of the 1960s, becoming one of the most striking couples of the era. In the late 1960s he became involved with Anne Wiazemsky, another leading lady in some of his films. Since the 1970s his partner has been Anne-Marie Miéville, with whom he resided for decades in the Swiss town of Rolle. At the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, director Michel Hazanavicius presented Redoubtable, a work based on Godard’s memoirs that reimagined the filmmaker’s affair with Wiazemsky in the 1960s.

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