Jean-Luc Godardthe pioneer director of the New Wave, the film movement that revolutionized cinema in the late 1950s and 1960s, has died at the age of 91.
Best known for his radical and iconoclastic cinematic style, Godard was arguably the most influential post-war French director capable of revolutionizing film through experimentation, both in storytelling and shooting techniques. Godard made his mark with a series of increasingly politicized films in the 1960s, before enjoying a career revival in his later years, with films such as Socialist films (2010) and Farewell to language – Farewell to language (2014) in which he experiments with digital technology.
Born in Paris in 1930, Godard grew up and attended school in Nyon on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. After completing his studies in 1949 and returning to Paris, Godard found a stimulating creative place in the intellectual “cine-clubs” which flourished in the French capital after the war and which proved to be the crucible of the New Wave. . After meeting future fellow directors such as Francois Truffaut, Claude Chabrol and Jacques Rivette, during his debut as a film critic in which he wrote for the influential magazine “Cahiers du Cinéma”, Godard criticized the traditionalism of French cinema which, according to the director, favored the conventions established in innovation and experimentation. In response to a cinema unwilling to change, Godard and like-minded critics began making their own films, defying the conventions not only of French cinema, but of mainstream Hollywood as well.
Godard first gained worldwide acclaim for his 1960 film Until the last breath considered the manifesto of the New Wave, a film that won Godard the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival. Godard often uses in his works homages and references to the history of cinema and often his films become the expression of political opinions. During the New Wave period, he was an avid reader of existential philosophy and a staunch Marxist. In his later artistic phase and in his more recent films, Godard instead wanted to represent human conflict from a more humanistic perspective.
In a 2002 “Sight & Sound” poll, critics voted Godard third among the top ten directors of all time. In 2010, Godard received an Oscar for lifetime achievement. The director has been married twice, with actresses Anna Karina and Anne Wiazemsky both appearing in several of his films.