Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard

Overview
Jean-Luc Godard is a French-Swiss film director
Film director
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film's artistic and dramatic nathan roach, while guiding the technical crew and actors.-Responsibilities:...

, screenwriter
Screenwriter
Screenwriters or scriptwriters or scenario writers are people who write/create the short or feature-length screenplays from which mass media such as films, television programs, Comics or video games are based.-Profession:...

 and film critic
Film criticism
Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of films, individually and collectively. In general, this can be divided into journalistic criticism that appears regularly in newspapers, and other popular, mass-media outlets and academic criticism by film scholars that is informed by film theory and...

. He is often identified with the 1960s French film movement, French Nouvelle Vague, or "New Wave
French New Wave
The New Wave was a blanket term coined by critics for a group of French filmmakers of the late 1950s and 1960s, influenced by Italian Neorealism and classical Hollywood cinema. Although never a formally organized movement, the New Wave filmmakers were linked by their self-conscious rejection of...

".

Like his New Wave contemporaries, Godard criticized mainstream French cinema's "Tradition of Quality", which "emphasized craft over innovation, privileged established directors over new directors, and preferred the great works of the past to experimentation." To challenge this tradition, he and like-minded critics started to make their own films. Many of Godard's films challenge the conventions of traditional Hollywood
Cinema of the United States
The cinema of the United States, also known as Hollywood, has had a profound effect on cinema across the world since the early 20th century. Its history is sometimes separated into four main periods: the silent film era, classical Hollywood cinema, New Hollywood, and the contemporary period...

 in addition to French cinema.
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Quotations

Art attracts us only by what it reveals of our most secret self.

"What Is Cinema?" Les Amis du Cinéma (Paris, October 1, 1952).

The truth is that there is no terror untempered by some great moral idea.

"Strangers on a Train," Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris, March 10, 1952).

Beauty is composed of an eternal, invariable element whose quantity is extremely difficult to determine, and a relative element which might be, either by turns or all at once, period, fashion, moral, passion.

"Defence and Illustration of Classical Construction," Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris, Sept. 15, 1952).

All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl.

Journal entry, May 16, 1991.

To me style is just the outside of content, and content the inside of style, like the outside and the inside of the human body—both go together, they can’t be separated.

Quoted in Richard Roud, Godard, introduction (1967, repr. 1970).

The cinema is not an art which films life: the cinema is something between art and life. Unlike painting and literature, the cinema both gives to life and takes from it, and I try to render this concept in my films. Literature and painting both exist as art from the very start; the cinema doesn’t.

Quoted in Richard Roud, Godard, introduction (1970).

Photography is truth. The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second.

Le Petit Soldat (film) (direction and screenplay, 1960).

"I would never see a good movie for the first time on television."

from Los Angeles Free Press, March 15, 1968. Gene Youngblood

"...the movie is not a thing which is taken by the camera; the movie is the reality of the movie moving from reality to the camera."

from Los Angeles Free Press, March 22, 1968. Gene Youngblood

"In films, we are trained by the American way of moviemaking to think we must understand and 'get' everything right away. But this is not possible. When you eat a potato, you don't understand each atom of the potato!"

from The Christian Science Monitor - August 3, 1994. David Sterritt
Encyclopedia
Jean-Luc Godard is a French-Swiss film director
Film director
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film's artistic and dramatic nathan roach, while guiding the technical crew and actors.-Responsibilities:...

, screenwriter
Screenwriter
Screenwriters or scriptwriters or scenario writers are people who write/create the short or feature-length screenplays from which mass media such as films, television programs, Comics or video games are based.-Profession:...

 and film critic
Film criticism
Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of films, individually and collectively. In general, this can be divided into journalistic criticism that appears regularly in newspapers, and other popular, mass-media outlets and academic criticism by film scholars that is informed by film theory and...

. He is often identified with the 1960s French film movement, French Nouvelle Vague, or "New Wave
French New Wave
The New Wave was a blanket term coined by critics for a group of French filmmakers of the late 1950s and 1960s, influenced by Italian Neorealism and classical Hollywood cinema. Although never a formally organized movement, the New Wave filmmakers were linked by their self-conscious rejection of...

".

Like his New Wave contemporaries, Godard criticized mainstream French cinema's "Tradition of Quality", which "emphasized craft over innovation, privileged established directors over new directors, and preferred the great works of the past to experimentation." To challenge this tradition, he and like-minded critics started to make their own films. Many of Godard's films challenge the conventions of traditional Hollywood
Cinema of the United States
The cinema of the United States, also known as Hollywood, has had a profound effect on cinema across the world since the early 20th century. Its history is sometimes separated into four main periods: the silent film era, classical Hollywood cinema, New Hollywood, and the contemporary period...

 in addition to French cinema. He is often considered the most radical French filmmaker of the 1960s and 1970s. Several of his films express his political views. His radical approach in film conventions, politics and philosophies made him the most influential filmmaker of the French New Wave.

After the New Wave, his politics have been much less radical and his recent films are about representation
Representation (arts)
Representation is the use of signs that stand in for and take the place of something else. It is through representation that people organize the world and reality through the act of naming its elements...

 and human conflict from a humanist
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

, not Marxist perspective.

In a 2002 Sight and Sound poll, Godard ranked third in the critics' top ten directors of all time (which was put together by assembling the directors of the individual films for which the critics voted).
He has created "one of the largest bodies of critical analysis of any filmmaker since the mid-twentieth century." He and his work have been central to narrative theory
Narratology
Narratology denotes both the theory and the study of narrative and narrative structure and the ways that these affect our perception. While in principle the word may refer to any systematic study of narrative, in practice its usage is rather more restricted. It is an anglicisation of French...

 and have "challenged both commercial narrative cinema norms and film criticism's vocabulary." In 2010, Godard was awarded an Academy Honorary Award
Academy Honorary Award
The Academy Honorary Award, instituted in 1948 for the 21st Academy Awards , is given by the discretion of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to celebrate motion picture achievements that are not covered by existing Academy Awards, although prior winners of...

, but did not attend the award ceremony.
Godard's films have inspired diverse directors like Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese
Martin Charles Scorsese is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, and film historian. In 1990 he founded The Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to film preservation, and in 2007 he founded the World Cinema Foundation...

, Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Jerome Tarantino is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer and actor. In the early 1990s, he began his career as an independent filmmaker with films employing nonlinear storylines and the aestheticization of violence...

, Steven Soderbergh
Steven Soderbergh
Steven Andrew Soderbergh is an American film producer, screenwriter, cinematographer, editor, and an Academy Award-winning film director. He is best known for directing commercial Hollywood films like Erin Brockovich, Traffic, and the remake of Ocean's Eleven, but he has also directed smaller less...

, Robert Altman
Robert Altman
Robert Bernard Altman was an American film director and screenwriter known for making films that are highly naturalistic, but with a stylized perspective. In 2006, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized his body of work with an Academy Honorary Award.His films MASH , McCabe and...

, Jim Jarmusch
Jim Jarmusch
James R. "Jim" Jarmusch is an American independent film director, screenwriter, actor, producer, editor and composer. Jarmusch has been a major proponent of independent cinema, particularly during the 1980s and 1990s.-Early life:...

, Wong Kar-wai
Wong Kar-wai
Wong Kar-wai BBS is a Hong Kong Second Wave filmmaker, internationally renowned as an auteur for his visually unique, highly stylized, emotionally resonant work, including Days of Being Wild , Ashes of Time , Chungking Express , Fallen Angels , Happy Together and 2046...

, Wim Wenders
Wim Wenders
Ernst Wilhelm "Wim" Wenders is a German film director, playwright, author, photographer and producer.-Early life:Wenders was born in Düsseldorf. He graduated from high school in Oberhausen in the Ruhr area. He then studied medicine and philosophy in Freiburg and Düsseldorf...

,
Bernardo Bertolucci
Bernardo Bertolucci
Bernardo Bertolucci is an Italian film director and screenwriter, whose films include The Conformist, Last Tango in Paris, 1900, The Last Emperor and The Dreamers...

, Pier Paolo Pasolini
Pier Paolo Pasolini
Pier Paolo Pasolini was an Italian film director, poet, writer, and intellectual. Pasolini distinguished himself as a poet, journalist, philosopher, linguist, novelist, playwright, filmmaker, newspaper and magazine columnist, actor, painter and political figure...

, Paul Thomas Anderson
Paul Thomas Anderson
Paul Thomas Anderson is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. He has written and directed five feature films: Hard Eight , Boogie Nights , Magnolia , Punch-Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood...

, Arthur Penn
Arthur Penn
Arthur Hiller Penn was an American film director and producer with a career as a theater director as well. Penn amassed a critically acclaimed body of work throughout the 1960s and 1970s.-Early years:...

, Hal Hartley
Hal Hartley
Hal Hartley is an American film director, screenwriter, producer composer, who became a key figure in the American independent film movement of the 1980s and 1990s...

, Richard Linklater
Richard Linklater
-Early life:Linklater was born in Houston, Texas. He studied at Sam Houston State University and left midway through his stint in college to work on an off-shore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. While working on the rig he read a lot of literature, but on land he developed a love of film through...

, Gregg Araki
Gregg Araki
Gregg Araki is an American independent filmmaker. He is involved in New Queer Cinema.-Early life:Araki was born in Los Angeles but grew up in Santa Barbara, California...

, John Woo
John Woo
John Woo Yu-Sen SBS is a Hong Kong-based film director and producer. Recognized for his stylised films of highly choreographed action sequences, Mexican standoffs, and use of slow-motion, Woo has directed several notable Hong Kong action films, among them, A Better Tomorrow, The Killer, Hard...

, Richard Lester
Richard Lester
Richard Lester is an American film director based in Britain. Lester is notable for his work with The Beatles in the 1960s and his work on the Superman film series in the 1980s.-Early years and television:...

, Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Rainer Werner Maria Fassbinder was a German movie director, screenwriter and actor. He is considered one of the most important representatives of the New German Cinema.He maintained a frenetic pace in film-making...

, Brian De Palma
Brian De Palma
Brian Russell De Palma is an American film director and writer. In a career spanning over 40 years, he is probably best known for his suspense and crime thriller films, including such box office successes as the horror film Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Scarface, The Untouchables, and Mission:...

, Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone
William Oliver Stone is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. Stone became well known in the late 1980s and the early 1990s for directing a series of films about the Vietnam War, for which he had previously participated as an infantry soldier. His work frequently focuses on...

 and Ken Loach
Ken Loach
Kenneth "Ken" Loach is a Palme D'Or winning English film and television director.He is known for his naturalistic, social realist directing style and for his socialist beliefs, which are evident in his film treatment of social issues such as homelessness , labour rights and child abuse at the...

.

Early life


Godard was born in Paris on 3 December 1930,
the son of Odile (née Monod) and Paul Godard, a physician.
His wealthy parents came from Protestant families of Franco
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

-Swiss
Swiss (people)
The Swiss are citizens or natives of Switzerland. The demonym derives from the toponym of Schwyz and has been in widespread use to refer to the Old Swiss Confederacy since the 16th century....

 descent, and his mother was the great-granddaughter of theologian Adolphe Monod
Adolphe Monod
Adolphe-Louis-Frédéric-Théodore Monod , was a French Protestant churchman. His elder brother was Frédéric Monod....

. Relatives on his mother's side include composer Jacques-Louis Monod
Jacques-Louis Monod
Jacques-Louis Monod is an influential French-born, American domiciled composer, pianist and conductor of 20th century and contemporary music.-Paris 1940s: early years under Messiaen and Leibowitz:...

, naturalist Théodore Monod
Théodore Monod
Théodore André Monod was a French naturalist, explorer, and humanist scholar.-Exploration:...

 and pastor Frédéric Monod
Frédéric Monod
Frédéric Monod was a French Protestant pastor.The brother of Adolphe Monod, he was greatly influenced by Robert Haldane. Along with Count Gasparin, Monod founded the Union of the Evangelical Churches of France; his son, Théodore, followed in his footsteps.Naturalist and explorer Théodore André...

. Godard attended school in Nyon
Nyon
Nyon is a municipality in the district of Nyon in the canton of Vaud in Switzerland. It is located some 25 kilometers north east of Geneva's city centre, and since the 1970s it has become part of the Geneva metropolitan area. It lies on the shores of Lake Geneva, and is the seat of the district of...

, Switzerland and the Lycée Rohmer. In 1949, he registered for a certificate in anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 at the University of Paris
University of Paris
The University of Paris was a university located in Paris, France and one of the earliest to be established in Europe. It was founded in the mid 12th century, and officially recognized as a university probably between 1160 and 1250...

 (Sorbonne), but did not attend class. He got involved with the young group of film critics at the ciné-clubs that started the New Wave.

Film criticism and early filmmaking



After attending school in Nyon, Godard returned to Paris in 1948. It was there, in the Latin Quarter just prior to 1950, that ciné-clubs (film societies) were gaining prominence. Godard began attending these clubs, where he soon met the man who was perhaps most responsible for the birth of the New Wave, André Bazin
André Bazin
André Bazin was a renowned and influential French film critic and film theorist.-Life:Bazin was born in Angers, France, in 1918...

, as well as those who would become his contemporaries, including Jacques Rivette
Jacques Rivette
Jacques Rivette is a French film director. His most well known films include Celine and Julie Go Boating, La Belle Noiseuse and the cult film Out 1....

, Claude Chabrol
Claude Chabrol
Claude Chabrol was a French film director, a member of the French New Wave group of filmmakers who first came to prominence at the end of the 1950s...

, François Truffaut
François Truffaut
François Roland Truffaut was an influential film critic and filmmaker and one of the founders of the French New Wave. In a film career lasting over a quarter of a century, he remains an icon of the French film industry. He was also a screenwriter, producer, and actor working on over twenty-five...

, Jacques Rozier
Jacques Rozier
Jacques Rozier is a French film director and screenwriter. He is one of the lesser known members of the French New Wave movement and has collaborated with Jean-Luc Godard. Three of his films have been screened at the Cannes Film Festival...

, and Jacques Demy
Jacques Demy
Jacques Demy was one of the most approachable filmmakers to appear in the wake of the French New Wave. Uninterested in the formal experimentation of Alain Resnais, or the political agitation of Jean-Luc Godard, Demy instead created a self-contained fantasy world closer to that of François...

. Godard was part of a generation for whom cinema took on a special importance. He has said; "In the 1950s cinema was as important as bread — but it isn't the case any more. We thought cinema would assert itself as an instrument of knowledge, a microscope ... a telescope. ... At the Cinémathèque
Cinémathèque Française
The Cinémathèque Française holds one of the largest archives of films, movie documents and film-related objects in the world. Located in Paris, the Cinémathèque holds daily screenings of films from around the world.-History:...

 I discovered a world which nobody had spoken to me about. They'd told us about Goethe, but not Dreyer
Carl Theodor Dreyer
Carl Theodor Dreyer, Jr. was a Danish film director. He is regarded by many critics and filmmakers as one of the greatest directors in cinema.-Life:Dreyer was born illegitimate in Copenhagen, Denmark...

. ... We watched silent films in the era of talkies. We dreamed about film. We were like Christians in the catacombs."

His approach to film began in the field of criticism
Film criticism
Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of films, individually and collectively. In general, this can be divided into journalistic criticism that appears regularly in newspapers, and other popular, mass-media outlets and academic criticism by film scholars that is informed by film theory and...

. Along with Éric Rohmer
Éric Rohmer
Éric Rohmer was a French film director, film critic, journalist, novelist, screenwriter and teacher. A figure in the post-war New Wave cinema, he was a former editor of Cahiers du cinéma....

 and Rivette, he founded the short-lived film journal, Gazette du cinéma, which saw publication of five issues in 1950. When Bazin co-founded the influential critical magazine Cahiers du cinéma
Cahiers du cinéma
Cahiers du Cinéma is an influential French film magazine founded in 1951 by André Bazin, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze and Joseph-Marie Lo Duca. It developed from the earlier magazine Revue du Cinéma involving members of two Paris film clubs — Objectif 49 and...

 in 1951, Godard, with Rivette and Rohmer, was among the first writers. They, along with several other writers for Cahiers du cinéma in the 1950s, started making brief forays into film direction.

Godard, while taking a job as a construction worker on a dam in 1953, shot a documentary about the building, Opération béton
Opération béton
Operation Concrete is a documentary made by French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, preceding his work in narrative, fiction film....

 (1955). As he continued to work for Cahiers, he made Une femme coquette
Une femme coquette
Une femme coquette was the second of four short fiction films made by French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, preceding his work in feature-length, narrative film.Writing creditsGuy de Maupassant... novel Le SigneJean-Luc Godard......

 (1955), a ten-minute short; All the Boys Are Named Patrick (1957) another short fiction film; and Une histoire d'eau
Une histoire d'eau
A Story of Water is a film directed and written by Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut in 1958. It recounts the story of a woman's trip to Paris, which is surrounded by a large flooded area...

 (1958), which was created largely out of unused footage shot by Truffaut.

In 1958 Godard, with a cast that included Jean-Paul Belmondo
Jean-Paul Belmondo
Jean-Paul Belmondo is a French actor initially associated with the New Wave of the 1960s.-Career:Born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, west of Paris, Belmondo did not perform well in school, but developed a passion for boxing and football."Did you box professionally very long?" "Not very long...

 and Anne Colette, made his last short before gaining international prominence as a filmmaker, Charlotte et son Jules
Charlotte et son Jules
Charlotte and Her Boyfriend is a 1960 film by Franco-Swiss director Jean-Luc Godard. It is shot entirely in or from Godard's hotel room, in which Belmondo's Jules gives Collette's Charlotte a seemingly endless and self-indulgent tirade on her faults and his tribulations...

, a homage to Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau
Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau was a French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, playwright, artist and filmmaker. His circle of associates, friends and lovers included Kenneth Anger, Pablo Picasso, Jean Hugo, Jean Marais, Henri Bernstein, Marlene Dietrich, Coco Chanel, Erik Satie, María...

.

Cinematic period


His most celebrated period as a filmmaker is roughly from his first feature, Breathless (1960), through to Week End (1967) focused on relatively conventional works that often refer to different aspects of film history. This cinematic period stands in contrast to the revolutionary period that immediately followed it, during which Godard ideologically denounced much of cinema’s history as "bourgeois" and therefore without merit.

Films



Godard's Breathless (À bout de souffle, 1960), starring Jean-Paul Belmondo
Jean-Paul Belmondo
Jean-Paul Belmondo is a French actor initially associated with the New Wave of the 1960s.-Career:Born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, west of Paris, Belmondo did not perform well in school, but developed a passion for boxing and football."Did you box professionally very long?" "Not very long...

 and Jean Seberg
Jean Seberg
Jean Dorothy Seberg was an American actress. She starred in 37 films in Hollywood and in France, including Breathless , the musical Paint Your Wagon and the disaster film Airport ....

 distinctly expressed the French New Wave
French New Wave
The New Wave was a blanket term coined by critics for a group of French filmmakers of the late 1950s and 1960s, influenced by Italian Neorealism and classical Hollywood cinema. Although never a formally organized movement, the New Wave filmmakers were linked by their self-conscious rejection of...

's style, and incorporated quotations from several elements of popular culture — specifically American cinema. The film employed various innovative techniques such as jump cuts, character asides
Aside
An aside is a dramatic device in which a character speaks to the audience. By convention the audience is to realize that the character's speech is unheard by the other characters on stage. It may be addressed to the audience expressly or represent an unspoken thought. An aside is usually a brief...

 and breaking the eyeline match
Eyeline match
An eyeline match is a film editing technique associated with the continuity editing system. It is based on the premise that the audience will want to see what the character on-screen is seeing. The eyeline match begins with a character looking at something off-screen, there will then be a cut to...

 rule in continuity editing
Continuity editing
Continuity editing is the predominant style of film editing and video editing in the post-production process of filmmaking of narrative films and television programs...

. Truffaut co-wrote Breathless with Godard and introduced Godard to the producer who ultimately funded the film, Georges de Beauregard
Georges de Beauregard
Georges de Beauregard was a French film producer who produced works from many of the French New Wave directors. In 1968, he was a member of the jury at the 18th Berlin International Film Festival....

.

Godard viewed film making as an extension of criticism and was more interested in redefining film structure and style than actually being understood by the public. Often his movies were more about the presentation of a story than anything else. The stories in his films were very simple yet unfocused and constantly digressing from the main story line (Jean-Luc Godard and Vivre Sa Vie by Tom Milne, 1962).

From the beginning of his career, Godard included more film references into his movies than any of his New Wave colleagues. In Breathless, his citations include a movie poster showing Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey DeForest Bogart was an American actor. He is widely regarded as a cultural icon.The American Film Institute ranked Bogart as the greatest male star in the history of American cinema....

 (whose expression the lead actor Jean-Paul Belmondo tries reverently to imitate); visual quotations from films of Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ernst Ingmar Bergman was a Swedish director, writer and producer for film, stage and television. Described by Woody Allen as "probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture camera", he is recognized as one of the most accomplished and...

, Samuel Fuller
Samuel Fuller
Samuel Michael Fuller was an American screenwriter, novelist, and film director known for low-budget genre movies with controversial themes.-Personal life:...

, Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
Friedrich Christian Anton "Fritz" Lang was an Austrian-American filmmaker, screenwriter, and occasional film producer and actor. One of the best known émigrés from Germany's school of Expressionism, he was dubbed the "Master of Darkness" by the British Film Institute...

, and others; and an onscreen dedication to Monogram Pictures
Monogram Pictures
Monogram Pictures Corporation is a Hollywood studio that produced and released films, most on low budgets, between 1931 and 1953, when the firm completed a transition to the name Allied Artists Pictures Corporation. Monogram is considered a leader among the smaller studios sometimes referred to...

, an American B-movie
B-movie
A B movie is a low-budget commercial motion picture that is not definitively an arthouse or pornographic film. In its original usage, during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the term more precisely identified a film intended for distribution as the less-publicized, bottom half of a double feature....

 studio. Most of all, the choice of Jean Seberg as the lead actress was an overarching reference to Otto Preminger
Otto Preminger
Otto Ludwig Preminger was an Austro–Hungarian-American theatre and film director.After moving from the theatre to Hollywood, he directed over 35 feature films in a five-decade career. He rose to prominence for stylish film noir mysteries such as Laura and Fallen Angel...

, who had discovered her for his Saint Joan, and then cast her in his acidulous 1958 adaptation of Bonjour Tristesse. If, in Rohmer’s words, "life was the cinema", then a film filled with movie references was supremely autobiographical.

The following year, Godard made Le Petit Soldat
Le Petit Soldat
The Little Soldier is a 1960 French film, written and directed by French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, but not released until 1963. It was Godard's first film with Anna Karina, who starred as Véronica Dreyer alongside Michel Subor ....

 (The Little Soldier), which dealt with the Algerian War of Independence
Algerian War of Independence
The Algerian War was a conflict between France and Algerian independence movements from 1954 to 1962, which led to Algeria's gaining its independence from France...

. Most notably, it was the first collaboration between Godard and Danish-born actress Anna Karina
Anna Karina
Anna Karina is a Danish film actress, director, and screenwriter who has spent most of her working life in France. Karina is known as a muse of the director, Jean-Luc Godard, one of the pioneers of the French New Wave...

, whom he later married in 1961 (and divorced in 1967). The film, due to its political nature, was banned by the French government until January 1963. Karina appeared again, along with Belmondo, in A Woman Is a Woman
A Woman Is a Woman
A Woman Is a Woman is a 1961 French film directed by Jean-Luc Godard, featuring Anna Karina, Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean-Claude Brialy. It is a tribute to American musical comedy and associated with the French New Wave.-Plot:...

 (1961), intended as a homage to the American musical
Musical film
The musical film is a film genre in which songs sung by the characters are interwoven into the narrative, sometimes accompanied by dancing. The songs usually advance the plot or develop the film's characters, though in some cases they serve merely as breaks in the storyline, often as elaborate...

. Angela (Karina) desires a child, prompting her to pretend to leave her boyfriend (Jean-Claude Brialy
Jean-Claude Brialy
Jean-Claude Brialy – died 30 May 2007, Monthyon, Seine-et-Marne, France was a French actor, director, and socialite.-Biography:...

) and make him jealous by pursuing his best friend (Belmondo) as a substitute.

Godard's next film, Vivre sa vie (My Life to Live) (1962), was one of his most popular among critics. Karina starred as Nana, an errant mother and aspiring actress whose financially straitened circumstances lead her to the life of a streetwalker. It is an episodic account of her rationalizations to prove she is free, even though she is tethered at the end of her pimp's short leash. In one touching scene in a cafe, she spreads her arms out and announces she is free to raise or lower them as she wishes. The film's style, much like that of Breathless, boasted the type of camera-liberated experimentation that made the French New Wave so influential.

Les Carabiniers
Les Carabiniers
The Carabineers was the fifth narrative feature film by French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard.-Plot:Les Carabiniers tells the story of two poor men called to serve in battle, lured by promises of the world’s riches...

 (1963) was about the horror of war and its inherent injustice. It was the influence and suggestion of Roberto Rossellini
Roberto Rossellini
Roberto Rossellini was an Italian film director and screenwriter. Rossellini was one of the directors of the Italian neorealist cinema, contributing films such as Roma città aperta to the movement.-Early life:Born in Rome, Roberto Rossellini lived on the Via Ludovisi, where Benito Mussolini had...

 that led Godard to make the film. It follows two peasants who join the army of a king, only to find futility in the whole thing as the king reveals the deception of war-administrating leaders.
His most commercially successful film was Le Mépris
Contempt (film)
Contempt is a 1963 film directed by Jean-Luc Godard, based on the Italian novel Il disprezzo by Alberto Moravia. It stars Brigitte Bardot.-Plot:...

 (1963), starring Michel Piccoli and one of France's biggest female stars, Brigitte Bardot
Brigitte Bardot
Brigitte Anne-Marie Bardot is a French former fashion model, actress, singer and animal rights activist. She was one of the best-known sex-symbols of the 1960s.In her early life, Bardot was an aspiring ballet dancer...

. A coproduction between Italy
Cinema of Italy
The history of Italian cinema began just a few months after the Lumière brothers had patented their Cinematographe, when Pope Leo XIII was filmed for a few seconds in the act of blessing the camera.-Early years:...

 and France, Contempt became known as a pinnacle in cinematic modernism
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

 with its profound reflexivity. The film follows Paul (Piccoli), a screenwriter who is commissioned by the arrogant American movie producer Prokosch (Jack Palance
Jack Palance
Jack Palance , was an American actor. During half a century of film and television appearances, Palance was nominated for three Academy Awards, all as Best Actor in a Supporting Role, winning in 1991 for his role in City Slickers.-Early life:Palance, one of five children, was born Volodymyr...

) to rewrite the script for an adaptation of Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

, which the Austrian director Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
Friedrich Christian Anton "Fritz" Lang was an Austrian-American filmmaker, screenwriter, and occasional film producer and actor. One of the best known émigrés from Germany's school of Expressionism, he was dubbed the "Master of Darkness" by the British Film Institute...

 has been filming. Lang's 'high culture
High culture
High culture is a term, now used in a number of different ways in academic discourse, whose most common meaning is the set of cultural products, mainly in the arts, held in the highest esteem by a culture...

' interpretation of the story is lost on Prokosch, whose character is a firm indictment of the commercial motion picture hierarchy. Another prominent theme is the inability to reconcile love and labor, which is illustrated by Paul's crumbling marriage to Camille (Bardot) during the course of shooting.

In 1964, Godard and Karina formed a production company, Anouchka Films. He directed Bande à part (Band of Outsiders), another collaboration between the two and described by Godard as "Alice in Wonderland meets Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka was a culturally influential German-language author of short stories and novels. Contemporary critics and academics, including Vladimir Nabokov, regard Kafka as one of the best writers of the 20th century...

." It follows two young men, looking to score on a heist, who both fall in love with Karina, and quotes from several gangster film conventions.

Une femme mariée
Une femme mariée
A Married Woman , 1964) was the eighth narrative feature film by French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard....

 (A Married Woman) (1964) followed Band of Outsiders. It was a slow, deliberate, toned-down black and white picture without a real story. The film was entirely produced over the period of one month and exhibited a loose quality unique to Godard. Godard made the film while he acquired funding for Pierrot le fou
Pierrot le fou
Pierrot le fou is a 1965 French film directed by Jean-Luc Godard, starring Anna Karina and Jean-Paul Belmondo. The film is based on Obsession, a novel by Lionel White. It was Jean-Luc Godard's tenth feature film, released between Alphaville and Masculin, féminin...

 (1965).

In 1965, Godard directed Alphaville, a futuristic blend of science fiction, film noir
Film noir
Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s...

, and satire
Satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

. Eddie Constantine
Eddie Constantine
Eddie Constantine was an American-born French actor and singer who spent his career working in Europe....

 starred as Lemmy Caution
Lemmy Caution
Lemmy Caution is a fictitious Federal Bureau of Investigation agent created by Peter Cheyney, who published the first book about him in 1936...

, a detective who is sent into a city controlled by a giant computer named Alpha 60. His mission is to make contact with Professor von Braun (Howard Vernon
Howard Vernon
Howard Vernon was a Swiss actor.Vernon was born Mario Lippert to a Swiss father and an American mother and was fluent in German, English, and French...

), a famous scientist who has fallen mysteriously silent, and is believed to be suppressed by the computer. Pierrot le fou
Pierrot le fou
Pierrot le fou is a 1965 French film directed by Jean-Luc Godard, starring Anna Karina and Jean-Paul Belmondo. The film is based on Obsession, a novel by Lionel White. It was Jean-Luc Godard's tenth feature film, released between Alphaville and Masculin, féminin...

 (1965) featured a complex storyline, distinctive personalities, and a violent ending. Gilles Jacob, an author, critic, and president of the Cannes Film Festival
Cannes Film Festival
The Cannes International Film Festival , is an annual film festival held in Cannes, France, which previews new films of all genres including documentaries from around the world. Founded in 1946, it is among the world's most prestigious and publicized film festivals...

, called it both a "retrospective" and recapitulation in the way it played on so many of Godard’s earlier characters and themes. With an extensive cast and variety of locations, the film was expensive enough to warrant significant problems with funding. Shot in color, it departed from Godard’s minimalist works (typified by Breathless, Vivre sa vie, and Une femme mariée). He solicited the participation of Jean-Paul Belmondo, by then a famous actor, in order to guarantee the necessary amount of capital.

Masculin, féminin
Masculin, féminin
Masculin, féminin is a 1966 black-and-white French film directed by Jean-Luc Godard.The film stars French New Wave icon Jean-Pierre Léaud as Paul, a romantic young idealist and literary lion-wannabe who chases budding pop star, Madeleine...

 (1966), based on two Guy de Maupassant
Guy de Maupassant
Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant was a popular 19th-century French writer, considered one of the fathers of the modern short story and one of the form's finest exponents....

 stories, La Femme de Paul and Le Signe, was a study of contemporary French youth and their involvement with cultural politics. An intertitle refers to the characters as "The children of Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 and Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola is a carbonated soft drink sold in stores, restaurants, and vending machines in more than 200 countries. It is produced by The Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, Georgia, and is often referred to simply as Coke...

."

Godard followed with Made in U.S.A
Made in U.S.A. (film)
Made in U.S.A is a 1966 French film directed by Jean-Luc Godard. Greatly inspired by the Howard Hawks film The Big Sleep and unofficially based on the novel The Jugger, by Richard Stark , it stars Anna Karina, Jean-Pierre Léaud, László Szabó and Yves Afonso...

 (1966), whose source material was Richard Stark's The Jugger; and Two or Three Things I Know About Her
Two or Three Things I Know About Her
Two or Three Things I Know About Her is a French film directed by Jean-Luc Godard, one of three features he completed that year. Like the other two , it is considered both socially and stylistically radical. Many American critics, including Village Voice critics Amy Taubin and J...

 (1967), in which Marina Vlady
Marina Vlady
Marina Vlady is a French actress.She won the Best Actress Award at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival for The Conjugal Bed. From 1955 to 1959 she was married to actor/director Robert Hossein...

 portrays a woman leading a double life as housewife and prostitute. A Classic New Wave crime thiller, "Made in the U.S.A" is inspired by American Noir films. Anna Karina
Anna Karina
Anna Karina is a Danish film actress, director, and screenwriter who has spent most of her working life in France. Karina is known as a muse of the director, Jean-Luc Godard, one of the pioneers of the French New Wave...

 stars as the anti-hero searching for her murdered lover; includes a cameo by Marianna Faithful.

La Chinoise
La Chinoise
La Chinoise is a 1967 French political film directed by Jean-Luc Godard about young revolutionaries in Paris.-Plot summary:La Chinoise is a loose adaptation, if not parody, of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's 1872 novel, The Possessed...

 (1967) saw Godard at his most politically forthright so far. The film focused on a group of students and engaged with the ideas coming out of the student activist groups in contemporary France. Released just before the May 1968 events, the film is thought by some to foreshadow the student rebellions that took place.

That same year, Godard made a more colorful and political film, Week End. It follows a Parisian couple as they leave on a weekend trip across the French countryside to collect an inheritance. What ensues is a confrontation with the tragic flaws of the over-consuming bourgeoisie. The film contains some of the most written-about scenes in cinema's history. One of them, a ten-minute tracking shot
Tracking shot
In motion picture terminology, a tracking shot is a segment in which the camera is mounted on a camera dolly, a wheeled platform that is pushed on rails while the picture is being taken...

 of the couple stuck in an unremitting traffic jam as they leave the city, is often cited as a new technique Godard used to deconstruct bourgeois trends. Startlingly, a few shots contain extra footage from, as it were, before the beginning of the take (while the actors are preparing) and after the end of the take (while the actors are coming out of character). Week Ends' enigmatic and audacious end title sequence, which reads "End of Cinema", appropriately marked an end to the narrative and cinematic period in Godard's filmmaking career.

Politics


Politics are never far from the surface in Godard's films. One of his earliest features, Le Petit Soldat, dealt with the Algerian War of Independence
Algerian War of Independence
The Algerian War was a conflict between France and Algerian independence movements from 1954 to 1962, which led to Algeria's gaining its independence from France...

, and was notable for its attempt to present the complexity of the dispute rather than pursue any specific ideological agenda. Along these lines, Les Carabiniers presents a fictional war that is initially romanticized in the way its characters approach their service, but becomes a stiff anti-war metonym
Metonymy
Metonymy is a figure of speech used in rhetoric in which a thing or concept is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with that thing or concept...

. In addition to the international conflicts Godard sought an artistic response to, he was also very concerned with the social problems in France. The earliest and best example of this is Karina's potent portrayal of a prostitute in Vivre sa vie.

In 1960s Paris, the political milieu was not overwhelmed by one specific movement. There was, however, a distinct post-war climate shaped by various international conflicts such as the colonialism in North Africa and Southeast Asia. The side that opposed such colonization included the majority of French workers, who belonged to the French communist party, and the Parisian artists and writers who positioned themselves on the side of social reform and class equality. A large portion of this group had a particular affinity for the teachings of Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

. Godard's Marxist disposition did not become abundantly explicit until La Chinoise and Week End, but is evident in several films — namely Pierrot and Une femme mariée.

Throughout his career, Godard has been accused of harboring anti-Semitic views. As film critic Richard Brody demonstrates in a recent book, Godard has expressed in interviews the traditional stereotypes of Jews as miserly usurers. In 1985, for example, Godard spoke of Hollywood in the following terms: "What I find interesting in the cinema is that, from the beginning, there is the idea of debt. The real producer is, all the same, the image of the Central European Jew. They're the ones who invented the cinema, they brought it to Hollywood...Making a film is visibly producing debts." In 1981 on television, Godard expressed himself even more clearly: "Moses is my principal enemy...Moses, when he received the commandments, he saw images and translated them. Then he brought the texts, he didn't show what he had seen. That's why the Jewish people are accursed." Brody argues that these views towards Jews are likely the result of a variety of biographical and political elements in Godard's life, such as his pro-Palestinian politics and repugnance towards Hollywood. Brody has specifically criticized the "extremely selective and narrow use" of passages in his book. Brody notes that Godard's work has approached the Holocaust with "the greatest moral seriousness".

Vietnam War


Godard produced several pieces that directly address the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

. Furthermore, there are two scenes in Pierrot le fou
Pierrot le fou
Pierrot le fou is a 1965 French film directed by Jean-Luc Godard, starring Anna Karina and Jean-Paul Belmondo. The film is based on Obsession, a novel by Lionel White. It was Jean-Luc Godard's tenth feature film, released between Alphaville and Masculin, féminin...

 that tackle the issue. The first is a scene that takes place in the initial car ride between Ferdinand (Belmondo) and Marianne (Karina). Over the car radio, the two hear the message "garrison massacred by the Viet Cong who lost 115 men". Marianne responds with an extended musing on the way the radio dehumanizes the Northern Vietnamese combatants.

In the same film, the lovers accost a group of American sailors along the course of their liberating crime spree. Their immediate reaction, expressed by Marianne, is "Damn Americans!" an obvious outlet of the frustration so many French communists
French Communist Party
The French Communist Party is a political party in France which advocates the principles of communism.Although its electoral support has declined in recent decades, the PCF retains a large membership, behind only that of the Union for a Popular Movement , and considerable influence in French...

 felt towards American hegemony. Ferdinand then reconsiders, "That’s OK, we’ll change our politics. We can put on a play. Maybe they’ll give us some dollars." Marianne is puzzled but Ferdinand suggests that something the Americans would like would be the Vietnam War. The ensuing sequence is a makeshift play where Marianne dresses up as a stereotype Vietnamese woman and Ferdinand as an American sailor
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

. The scene ends on a brief shot revealing a chalk message left on the floor by the pair, "Long live Mao
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

!" (Vive Mao!).

Notably, he also participated in Loin du Vietnam (1967). An anti-war project, it consists of seven sketches directed by Godard (who used stock footage
Stock footage
Stock footage, and similarly, archive footage, library pictures and file footage are film or video footage that may or may not be custom shot for use in a specific film or television program. Stock footage is of beneficial use to filmmakers as it is sometimes less expensive than shooting new...

 from La Chinoise), Claude Lelouch, Joris Ivens
Joris Ivens
Joris Ivens was a Dutch documentary filmmaker and committed communist.-Early life and career:...

, William Klein
William Klein
William Klein is a photographer and filmmaker noted to for his ironic approach to both media and his extensive use of unusual photographic techniques in the context of photojournalism and fashion photography...

, Chris Marker
Chris Marker
Chris Marker is a French writer, photographer, documentary film director, multimedia artist and film essayist. His best known films are La jetée , A Grin Without a Cat , Sans Soleil and AK , an essay film on the Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa...

, Alain Resnais
Alain Resnais
Alain Resnais is a French film director whose career has extended over more than six decades. After training as a film editor in the mid-1940s, he went on to direct a number of short films which included Nuit et Brouillard , an influential documentary about the Nazi concentration camps.He began...

 and Agnès Varda
Agnès Varda
Agnès Varda is a French film director and professor at the European Graduate School. Her movies, photographs, and art installations focus on documentary realism, feminist issues, and social commentary — with a distinct experimental style....

.

Bertolt Brecht


Godard's engagement with German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht was a German poet, playwright, and theatre director.An influential theatre practitioner of the 20th century, Brecht made equally significant contributions to dramaturgy and theatrical production, the latter particularly through the seismic impact of the tours undertaken by the...

 stems primarily from his attempt to transpose Brecht's theory of epic theatre
Epic theatre
Epic theatre was a theatrical movement arising in the early to mid-20th century from the theories and practice of a number of theatre practitioners, including Erwin Piscator, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Vsevolod Meyerhold and, most famously, Bertolt Brecht...

 and its prospect of alienating the viewer (Verfremdungseffekt) through a radical separation of the elements of the medium (in Brecht's case theater, but in Godard's, film). Brecht's influence is keenly felt through much of Godard's work, particularly before 1980, when Godard used filmic expression for specific political ends.

For example, Breathless elliptical editing, which denies the viewer a fluid narrative typical of mainstream cinema, forces the viewers to take on more critical roles, connecting the pieces themselves and coming away with more investment in the work's content. Godard also employs other devices, including asynchronous sound and alarming title frames, with perhaps his favorite being the character aside. In many of his most political pieces, specifically Week End, Pierrot le fou
Pierrot le fou
Pierrot le fou is a 1965 French film directed by Jean-Luc Godard, starring Anna Karina and Jean-Paul Belmondo. The film is based on Obsession, a novel by Lionel White. It was Jean-Luc Godard's tenth feature film, released between Alphaville and Masculin, féminin...

, and La Chinoise
La Chinoise
La Chinoise is a 1967 French political film directed by Jean-Luc Godard about young revolutionaries in Paris.-Plot summary:La Chinoise is a loose adaptation, if not parody, of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's 1872 novel, The Possessed...

, characters address the audience with thoughts, feelings, and instructions.

Marxism


A Marxist reading is possible with most if not all of Godard’s early work. Godard’s direct interaction with Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 does not become explicitly apparent, however, until Week End, where the name Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 is cited in conjunction with figures such as Jesus Christ. A constant refrain throughout Godard's cinematic period is that of the bourgeoisie’s consumerism
Consumerism
Consumerism is a social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts. The term is often associated with criticisms of consumption starting with Thorstein Veblen...

, the commodification of daily life and activity, and man’s alienation
Social alienation
The term social alienation has many discipline-specific uses; Roberts notes how even within the social sciences, it “is used to refer both to a personal psychological state and to a type of social relationship”...

 — all central features of Marx’s critique of capitalism.

In an essay on Godard, philosopher and aesthetics scholar Jacques Ranciere
Jacques Rancière
Jacques Rancière is a French philosopher, Professor of Philosophy at European Graduate School in Saas-Fee and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris Jacques Rancière (born Algiers, 1940) is a French philosopher, Professor of Philosophy at European Graduate School in Saas-Fee...

 states, "When in Pierrot le fou, 1965, a film without a clear political message, Belmondo played on the word 'scandal' and the 'freedom' that the Scandal girdle supposedly offered women, the context of a Marxist critique of commodification
Commodification
Commodification is the transformation of goods, ideas, or other entities that may not normally be regarded as goods into a commodity....

, of pop art
Pop art
Pop art is an art movement that emerged in the mid 1950s in Britain and in the late 1950s in the United States. Pop art challenged tradition by asserting that an artist's use of the mass-produced visual commodities of popular culture is contiguous with the perspective of fine art...

 derision at consumerism, and of a feminist denunciation of women’s false 'liberation', was enough to foster a dialectical reading of the joke and the whole story." The way Godard treated politics in his cinematic period was in the context of a joke, a piece of art, or a relationship, presented to be used as tools of reference, romanticizing the Marxist rhetoric, rather than solely being tools of education.

Une femme mariée
Une femme mariée
A Married Woman , 1964) was the eighth narrative feature film by French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard....

 is also structured around Marx's concept of commodity fetishism
Commodity fetishism
In Marx's critique of political economy, commodity fetishism denotes the mystification of human relations said to arise out of the growth of market trade, when social relationships between people are expressed as, mediated by and transformed into, objectified relationships between things .The...

. Godard once said that it is "a film in which individuals are considered as things, in which chases in a taxi alternate with ethological interviews, in which the spectacle of life is intermingled with its analysis". He was very conscious of the way he wished to portray the human being. His efforts are overtly characteristic of Marx, who in his Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 gives one of his most nuanced elaborations, analyzing how the worker is alienated from his product, the object of his productive activity. Georges Sadoul
Georges Sadoul
Georges Sadoul was a French journalist and cinema writer.Once a surrealist, he became a communist in 1932. He was a journalist of the Lettres Françaises....

, in his short rumination on the film, describes it as a "sociological study of the alienation of the modern woman".

Revolutionary period


The period that spans from May 1968 indistinctly into the 1970s has been subject to an even larger volume of varying labeling. They include everything from his "militant" period, to his "radical" period, along with terms as specific as "Maoist
Maoism
Maoism, also known as the Mao Zedong Thought , is claimed by Maoists as an anti-Revisionist form of Marxist communist theory, derived from the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong . Developed during the 1950s and 1960s, it was widely applied as the political and military guiding...

" and vague as "political". The period saw Godard align himself with a specific revolution and employ a consistent revolutionary rhetoric.

Films


Amid the upheavals of the late 1960s Godard became interested in Maoist ideology. He formed the socialist-idealist Dziga-Vertov
Dziga Vertov Group
The Dziga Vertov Group was formed in 1968 by politically active filmmakers including Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin. Their films are defined primarily for Brechtian forms, Marxist ideology, and a lack of personal authorship...

 cinema group with Jean-Pierre Gorin
Jean-Pierre Gorin
Jean-Pierre Gorin is a French filmmaker and professor, best known for his work with Nouvelle Vague luminary Jean-Luc Godard during what is often referred to as Godard's "radical" period....

 and produced a number of shorts outlining his politics. In that period he travelled extensively and shot a number of films, most of which remained unfinished or were refused showings. His films became intensely politicized and experimental, a phase that lasted until 1980.

According to Elliott Gould
Elliott Gould
Elliott Gould is an American actor. He began acting in Hollywood films during the 1960s, and has remained prolific ever since. Some of his most notable films include M*A*S*H and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, for which he received an Oscar nomination...

, he and Godard met to discuss the possibility of Godard directing Jules Feiffer
Jules Feiffer
Jules Ralph Feiffer is an American syndicated cartoonist, most notable for his long-run comic strip titled Feiffer. He has created more than 35 books, plays and screenplays...

's 1971 surrealist play Little Murders
Little Murders
Little Murders is a 1971 black comedy film starring Elliott Gould and Marcia Rodd, directed by Alan Arkin. It is the story of a girl, Patsy , who brings home her boyfriend, Alfred , to meet her severely dysfunctional family amidst a series of random shootings, garbage strikes and electrical outages...

. During this meeting Godard said his two favorite American writers were Feiffer and Charles M. Schulz
Charles M. Schulz
Charles Monroe "Sparky" Schulz was an American cartoonist, whose comic strip Peanuts proved one of the most popular and influential in the history of the medium, and is still widely reprinted on a daily basis.-Early life and education:Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Schulz grew up in Saint Paul...

. Godard soon declined the opportunity to direct; the job later went to Alan Arkin
Alan Arkin
Alan Wolf Arkin is an American actor, director, musician and singer. He is known for starring in such films as Wait Until Dark, The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Catch-22, The In-Laws, Edward Scissorhands, Glengarry Glen Ross, Marley & Me, and...

.

Jean-Pierre Gorin


After the events of May 1968, when the city of Paris saw total upheaval in response to the "authoritarian de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

 republic", and Godard's professional objective was reconsidered, he began to collaborate with like-minded individuals in the filmmaking arena. The most notable of these collaborations was with a young Maoist student, Jean-Pierre Gorin
Jean-Pierre Gorin
Jean-Pierre Gorin is a French filmmaker and professor, best known for his work with Nouvelle Vague luminary Jean-Luc Godard during what is often referred to as Godard's "radical" period....

, who displayed a passion for cinema that grabbed Godard’s attention.

Between 1968 and 1973, Godard and Gorin collaborated to make a total of five films with strong Maoist messages. The most prominent film from the collaboration was Tout va bien
Tout va bien
Tout va bien is a 1972 film directed by Jean-Luc Godard and collaborator Jean-Pierre Gorin and starring Jane Fonda and Yves Montand.-Overview:...

, which starred Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda is an American actress, writer, political activist, former fashion model, and fitness guru. She rose to fame in the 1960s with films such as Barbarella and Cat Ballou. She has won two Academy Awards and received several other movie awards and nominations during more than 50 years as an...

 and Yves Montand
Yves Montand
-Early life:Montand was born Ivo Livi in Monsummano Terme, Italy, the son of poor peasants Giuseppina and Giovanni Livi, a broommaker. Montand's mother was a devout Catholic, while his father held strong Communist beliefs. Because of the Fascist regime in Italy, Montand's family left for France in...

, at the time very big stars. Jean-Pierre Gorin now teaches the study of film
Film theory
Film theory is an academic discipline that aims to explore the essence of the cinema and provides conceptual frameworks for understanding film's relationship to reality, the other arts, individual viewers, and society at large...

 at the University of California, San Diego
University of California, San Diego
The University of California, San Diego, commonly known as UCSD or UC San Diego, is a public research university located in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, California, United States...

.

The Dziga Vertov group


The small group of Maoists that Godard had brought together, which included Gorin, adopted the name Dziga Vertov Group
Dziga Vertov Group
The Dziga Vertov Group was formed in 1968 by politically active filmmakers including Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin. Their films are defined primarily for Brechtian forms, Marxist ideology, and a lack of personal authorship...

. Godard had a specific interest in Vertov
Dziga Vertov
David Abelevich Kaufman , better known by his pseudonym Dziga Vertov , was a Soviet pioneer documentary film, newsreel director and cinema theorist...

, a Soviet filmmaker—whose adopted name is derived from the verb to spin or rotate and is best remembered for Man with the Movie Camera (1929) and a contemporary of both the great Soviet montage
Film editing
Film editing is part of the creative post-production process of filmmaking. It involves the selection and combining of shots into sequences, and ultimately creating a finished motion picture. It is an art of storytelling...

 theorists, most notably Sergei Eisenstein
Sergei Eisenstein
Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein , né Eizenshtein, was a pioneering Soviet Russian film director and film theorist, often considered to be the "Father of Montage"...

, and Russian constructivist
Constructivism (art)
Constructivism was an artistic and architectural philosophy that originated in Russia beginning in 1919, which was a rejection of the idea of autonomous art. The movement was in favour of art as a practice for social purposes. Constructivism had a great effect on modern art movements of the 20th...

 and avant-garde artists such as Alexander Rodchenko
Alexander Rodchenko
Aleksander Mikhailovich Rodchenko was a Russian artist, sculptor, photographer and graphic designer. He was one of the founders of constructivism and Russian design; he was married to the artist Varvara Stepanova....

 and Vladimir Tatlin
Vladimir Tatlin
Vladimir Yevgrafovich Tatlin was a Russian and Soviet painter and architect. With Kazimir Malevich he was one of the two most important figures in the Russian avant-garde art movement of the 1920s, and he later became the most important artist in the Constructivist movement...

. Part of Godard’s political shift after May 1968 was toward a proactive participation in the class struggle
Class struggle
Class struggle is the active expression of a class conflict looked at from any kind of socialist perspective. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote "The [written] history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle"....

.

1980 – 1999


His return to somewhat more traditional fiction was marked with Sauve qui peut (la vie)
Sauve qui peut (la vie)
__notoc__Sauve qui peut , which was released as Slow Motion in the UK, and as Every Man for Himself in the U.S., is a film directed, co-written and co-produced by Jean-Luc Godard, which premiered at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival. The film stars Jacques Dutronc, Isabelle Huppert, and Nathalie Baye,...

 (1980), the first of a series of more mainstream films marked by autobiographical currents: for example Passion
Passion (1982 film)
Passion is a 1982 film by Jean-Luc Godard, and the second feature film made during his return to relatively mainstream filmmaking in the 1980s, sometimes referred to as the Second Wave...

 (1982), Lettre à Freddy Buache (1982), Prénom Carmen
Prénom Carmen
First Name: Carmen is a 1983 film by Jean-Luc Godard. It is very loosely based on Bizet's opera Carmen.The protagonist is Carmen X , a female member of a terrorist gang...

 (1984), and Grandeur et décadence (1986). There was, though, another flurry of controversy with Je vous salue, Marie (1985), which was condemned by the Catholic Church for alleged heresy
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

, and also with King Lear
King Lear (1987 film)
King Lear is a 1987 filmic adaptation of the Shakespeare play of the same title, directed by Jean-Luc Godard. The script is primarily by Peter Sellars and Tom Luddy...

 (1987), an extraordinary but much-excoriated essay on William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 and language. Also completed in 1987 was a segment in the film ARIA which was based loosely from the plot of Armide
Armide
Armide is the French and English form of the name Armida, a witch in Torquato Tasso's epic poem "Jerusalem Delivered" . The sequence of the poem recounting her love affair with the Christian knight Renaud inspired many operas, which are listed under the names of their respective composers in the...

; it is set in a gym and uses several aria
Aria
An aria in music was originally any expressive melody, usually, but not always, performed by a singer. The term is now used almost exclusively to describe a self-contained piece for one voice usually with orchestral accompaniment...

s by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Jean-Baptiste Lully
Jean-Baptiste de Lully was an Italian-born French composer who spent most of his life working in the court of Louis XIV of France. He is considered the chief master of the French Baroque style. Lully disavowed any Italian influence in French music of the period. He became a French subject in...

 from his famous Armide
Armide (Lully)
Armide is an opera by Jean-Baptiste Lully. The libretto was written by Philippe Quinault, based on Torquato Tasso's La Gerusalemme liberata .Critics in the 18th century regarded Armide as Lully's masterpiece...

.

His later films have been marked by great formal beauty and frequently a sense of requiem — Nouvelle Vague
Nouvelle Vague (film)
Nouvelle Vague is a 1990 film written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard. It follows the story of hitchiker Lennox credited as "Lui" , taken in by a wealthy industrialist, Elena Torlato-Favrini or "Elle" , played by Domiziana Giordano.The film was entered into the 1990 Cannes Film...

 (New Wave, 1990), the autobiographical JLG/JLG, autoportrait de décembre (JLG/JLG: Self-Portrait in December, 1995), and For Ever Mozart
For Ever Mozart
For Ever Mozart is a 1996 feature film directed, written and edited by Jean-Luc Godard. The film's title is a bilingual pun intentionally meant to sound like "pour rêver Mozart" ....

 (1996). Allemagne année 90 neuf zéro
Allemagne année 90 neuf zéro
Allemagne année 90 neuf zéro is a French film directed by Jean-Luc Godard and starring Eddie Constantine in his signature role as detective Lemmy Caution. This is the second film in which Godard and Constantine collaborated with the Lemmy Caution character, although it is not officially a sequel...

 (Germany Year 90 Nine Zero, 1991) was a quasi-sequel
Sequel
A sequel is a narrative, documental, or other work of literature, film, theatre, or music that continues the story of or expands upon issues presented in some previous work...

 to Alphaville but done with an elegiac tone and focus on the inevitable decay of age. Between 1988 and 1998 he produced perhaps the most important work of his career in the multi-part series Histoire(s) du cinéma
Histoire(s) du cinéma
Histoire du cinéma is a video project begun by Jean-Luc Godard in the late 1980s and completed in 1998. The densest and undoubtedly one of the greatest of Godard's films, Histoire du cinéma is an examination of the history of the concept of cinema and how it relates to the 20th century; in this...

, a monumental project which combined all the innovations of his video work with a passionate engagement in the issues of twentieth-century history and the history of film itself.

2000 – present


Godard has continued to work actively into his seventies. In 2001, Eloge de l'Amour (In Praise of Love) was released. This film is notable for its use of both film and video – the first half captured in 35 mm black and white, the latter half shot in color on DV – and subsequently transferred to film for editing. The blending of film and video recalls the statement from Sauve Qui Peut, in which the tension between film and video evokes the struggle between Cain and Abel. Eloge de l'Amour is rich with themes of aging, love, separation, and rediscovery as we follow the young artist Edgar contemplating a new work on the four stages of love (should it be an opera? a film?). He meets up with a lost love who is terminally ill, and at her passing we are thrust into the second half of the film where Edgar meets with her at her grandparent's house two years before. Producers for Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg
Steven Allan Spielberg KBE is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur. In a career of more than four decades, Spielberg's films have covered many themes and genres. Spielberg's early science-fiction and adventure films were seen as an...

 are negotiating the purchase of her grandparent's World War II story; the young woman attempts to stall the deal. This is one of Godard's most tender films, yet it is characteristically enigmatic and demands the viewer's full attention.

In Notre Musique
Notre musique
Notre musique is a 2004 film directed by Jean-Luc Godard. The film reflects on violence, morality, and the representation of violence in film, and touches especially on past colonialism and the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict...

 (2004), Godard turns his focus to war, specifically, the war in Sarajevo
Siege of Sarajevo
The Siege of Sarajevo is the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare. Serb forces of the Republika Srpska and the Yugoslav People's Army besieged Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, from 5 April 1992 to 29 February 1996 during the Bosnian War.After Bosnia...

, but with attention to all war, including the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, the war between the US and Native Americans, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict
Israeli–Palestinian conflict
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is also used in reference to the earlier phases of the same conflict, between Jewish and Zionist yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman or...

. The film is structured into three Dantean
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

 kingdoms: Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. Godard's fascination with paradox is a constant in the film. It opens with a long, ponderous montage of war images that occasionally lapses into the comic; Paradise is shown as a lush wooded beach patrolled by US Marines.

Godard's latest film, Film Socialisme, premiered in the Un Certain Regard
Un Certain Regard
Un Certain Regard is a section of the Cannes Film Festival's Official Selection. It is run at the Salle Debussy, parallel to the competition for the Palme d'Or.This section was introduced in 1978 by Gilles Jacob...

 section at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival
2010 Cannes Film Festival
The 63rd annual Cannes Film Festival was held from May 12 to May 23, 2010, in Cannes, France. The Cannes Film Festival, hailed as being one of the most recognized and prestigious film festivals worldwide, was founded in 1946. It consists of having films screened in and out of competition during the...

. It was released theatrically in France in May 2010.

He is rumored to be considering directing a film adaptation of Daniel Mendelsohn's "The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million is a non-fiction memoir by Daniel Mendelsohn, published in September 2006, which has received critical acclaim as a new perspective on Holocaust remembrance...

," an award-winning book about the Holocaust.
He has stated that his next feature film will be called Adieu au Language (Farewell to Language), which will be shot in 3-D. The film will revolve around a couple who cannot communicate with each other until their pet dog acts as an interpreter for them.

Tributes

  • " From Hollywood to the Third World, from the mainstream to the Avant-Garde, Godard's name is perhaps the only one that occurs wherever cinema is discussed or produced." – Colin Myles MacCabe
  • " Like Picasso, Godard reveals to us throughout his work his world as source and subject; the artist's studio, the objects of his daily life, the references to and repetitions of his own works, the layering of words and images, the women he has loved, the horrors of war." – Mary Lea Bandy.
  • " Godard's is an art of plastic age, of fluent, pliable, putty characters." – Raymond Durgnat
    Raymond Durgnat
    Raymond Durgnat was a distinctive and highly influential British film critic, who was born in London of Swiss parents...

  • " Godard's importance lies in his development of an authentic modernist cinema in opposition to (though, during the early period, at the same time within) mainstream cinema: it is with his work that film becomes central to our century's major aesthetic debate, the controversy developed through such figues as Lukacs, Brecht, Benjamin and Adorno as to whether realism or modernism is the more progressive form." – Robin Wood.

Further reading

  • Godard, Jean-Luc. 2012 Introduction to a True History of Cinema and Television. Montreal: caboose. ISBN 978-0-9811941-1-6
  • Brody, Richard. 2008. Everything is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard. ISBN 978-0-8050-6886-3
  • Temple, Michael. Williams, James S. Witt, Michael. (eds) 2007. For Ever Godard. London: Black Dog Publishing
  • MacCabe, Colin
    Colin MacCabe
    Colin MacCabe is a British writer and film producer. He is distinguished professor of English and film at the University of Pittsburgh, professor of English and humanities at Birkbeck, University of London, and a visiting professor at the University of Exeter....

    . 2003. Godard: A Portrait of the Artist at 70. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Dixon, Wheeler Winston. The Films of Jean-Luc Godard. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997.
  • Godard, Jean-Luc: The Future(s) of Film. Three Interviews 2000/01. Bern — Berlin: Verlag Gachnang & Springer, 2002. ISBN 978-3-906127-62-0
  • Loshitzky, Yosefa. The Radical Faces of Godard and Bertolucci.
  • Silverman, Kaja and Farocki, Harun. 1998. Speaking About Godard. New York: New York University Press.
  • Sterrit, David. 1999. The Films of Jean-Luc Godard: Seeing the Invisible. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Temple, Michael and Williams, James S. (eds). 2000. The Cinema alone: Essays on the Work of Jean-Luc Godard 1985–2000. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
  • Almeida, Jane. Dziga Vertov Group. São Paulo: witz, 2005. ISBN 85-98100-05-6.
  • Nicole Brenez, David Faroult, Michael Temple, James E. Williams, Michael Witt (eds), Jean-Luc Godard:Documents, Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 2007
  • Godard Bibliography (via UC Berkeley)
  • Diane Stevenson, "Godard and Bazin" in the Andre Bazin special issue, Jeffrey Crouse (ed.), Film International, Issue 30, Vol. 5, No. 6, 2007, pp. 32–40.

External links