Jean-Luc Godard, RIP

Adieu to a titan of cinema. From Breathless onwards, he tested the limits of the medium.

13 September 2022

Jean-Luc Godard on location for 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (1967)

Jean-Luc Godard, who has died aged 91, was a giant of cinema who helped launch the French New Wave and, for more than 60 years, continually reinvented what films could be. His debut feature, Breathless (1960), was an earthquake for world cinema, inspiring many imitators and setting the pace for a dazzlingly inventive and provocative career.

Ben Roberts, the BFI’s CEO, says: “Jean-Luc Godard’s death is a huge loss to cinema. The godfather of the French New Wave and one of the most influential and innovative filmmakers of the last century, his work has resonated with generations of film-lovers around the world. The BFI will continue to champion his work to new audiences, and celebrate his career. A special edition of Sight and Sound paying tribute to Godard will be available from 3 October.”

Here we share some visual highlights from an extraordinary legacy, with our full obituary to follow.

Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg wander the Champs-Elysées in a classic moment from Godard’s debut film, Breathless (1960)
Godard directs cinematographer Raoul Coutard during the Breathless shoot. Coutard became Godard’s regular director of photography throughout the French New Wave period
Godard (reflected in the mirror) preparing a scene with his then-wife Anna Karina for his 1961 film Une femme est une femme, a playfully experimental tribute to the Hollywood musical
Michel Piccoli and Brigitte Bardot in Godard’s first colour film, the film industry drama Le Mépris (1963)
Godard with Michel Piccoli, Fritz Lang and Jack Palance during production of Le Mépris
Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina, Godard’s then wife, in Pierrot le fou (1965)
Godard on the quayside in Toulon with Princess Aïcha Abadie, during filming of her short cameo appearance in Pierrot le fou
Sifting through consumer cleaning products in the banlieues (suburbs) of Paris, during production on his provocative 1967 film 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her. Godard said he wanted “to include everything: sports, politics, even groceries”
The director looks on as his crew arrange the destruction in the famous traffic jam sequence for his apocalyptic 1967 film Week End. This film signalled Godard’s temporary goodbye to anything resembling conventional narrative filmmaking
Godard mingles with The Rolling Stones during the making of his unorthodox Stones documentary Sympathy for the Devil (1968)
Cupid Productions
Jean-Luc Godard and Geraldine Chaplin in the middle of the 1968 protests at the Palais that shut down the Cannes Film Festival that year
Getty Images
Scheduled to give a lecture at the BFI in 1968, Jean-Luc Godard never showed up. Instead came a telegram...
Yves Montand and Jane Fonda in Tout va bien (1972), Godard’s return to narrative film after his Dziga Vertov period in experimental video
Godard in Scénario du film Passion (1982), a study of the making of his film Passion (1982)
Godard with the theatre director Peter Sellars in Godard’s typically unconventional film of King Lear (1987)
Making an appearance in his self-portrait film JLG/JLG: Self Portrait in December (1994)
Godard’s 2014 essay film Goodbye to Language found him embracing 3D

 

Godard’s handwritten synopsis for Goodbye to Language (2014)

Further reading

Jean-Luc Godard in the USA

By Claire Clouzot

Jean-Luc Godard in the USA

Where to begin with Jean-Luc Godard – the early stuff

By David Parkinson

Where to begin with Jean-Luc Godard – the early stuff

How they did love: Emmanuel Laurent on Godard and Truffaut

How they did love: Emmanuel Laurent on Godard and Truffaut

Rare images of Jean-Luc Godard hanging out with The Rolling Stones

By Adam Scovell

Rare images of Jean-Luc Godard hanging out with The Rolling Stones

5 reasons to grapple with Godard’s radical Dziga Vertov Group films

By Craig Williams

5 reasons to grapple with Godard’s radical Dziga Vertov Group films

10 great films that influenced Jean-Luc Godard

By Patrick Gamble

10 great films that influenced Jean-Luc Godard

Journey to the end of the beach: Godard, Karina and Pierrot le fou

By David Thomson

Journey to the end of the beach: Godard, Karina and Pierrot le fou

10 great French New Wave films

By Sam Wigley

10 great French New Wave films

Light of day: Raoul Coutard on shooting film for Jean-Luc Godard

Light of day: Raoul Coutard on shooting film for Jean-Luc Godard

In search of the locations for Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless

By Adam Scovell

In search of the locations for Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless
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