Jean-Luc Godard: 1930 – 2022


On September 13, 2022, revolutionary French-Swiss filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard died at the age of 91. According to a statement from his legal advisor Patrick Jeanneret, the legendary director, who shaped the 1960s French New Wave movement with his innovative handheld camera work, and jump-cut narrative style, died by assisted suicide at his home in Rolle, Switzerland, after suffering from numerous disabling afflictions.

revolutionary french new wave film director jean-luc godard dies aged 91

image courtesy of La Cinémathèque française | @cinemathequefr (also head image)



French New Wave pioneer


Born in Paris in 1930, Jean-Luc Godard began his career as a critic. Instead of making films himself, he watched them, wrote about them, and assisted others in making them. His pioneering career as a director began in the 1960s, with his debut feature-length picture, Breathless, becoming a symbol of an experimental movement known as La Nouvelle Vague – the New Wave.


Throughout the 1960s, Godard continued his prolific output, creating several films, including My Life To Live (1962), Contempt (1963), Band of Outsiders (1964), Une Femme Mariee (1964), Pierrot le Fou (1965), Alphaville (1965), and Masculin Feminin (1966). Godard’s films mix action with philosophical discourse, clearly illustrating his socialist beliefs and rejection of conventional narrative techniques.

revolutionary french new wave film director jean-luc godard dies aged 91
Breathless (1960)

image courtesy of Transmetter Le Cinema



By the end of the 1960s, Godard had begun making overtly political films, many of which he worked on with other filmmakers such as Jean-Pierre Gorin, with whom Godard worked on political dramaTout va bien (1978), starring Yves Montand and Jane Fonda, as well as Letter to Jane: An Investigation About a Still (1972). 


Jean-Luc Godard’s films from the 1980s like Hail Mary (1985) are more autobiographical and demonstrative of his viewpoints, still remaining controversial. His films from 1990s and beyond, such as Nouvelle Vague (1990), have a more sorrowful tone, reflecting on topics like love, isolation, and struggle. Godard’s most recent film, Le Livre d’image (The Image Book), premiered at Cannes in 2018, where it was awarded the festival’s first ‘Special Palme d’Or.’

revolutionary french new wave film director jean-luc godard dies aged 91
Alphaville (1965)

image courtesy of La Cinémathèque française | @cinemathequefr



Immediately after his death was announced, tributes to Jean-Luc Godard began to pour in, with personalities from the worlds of cinema, politics, and beyond commemorating the filmmaker for his powerful work. French President Emmanuel Macron was among the first to pay tribute to Godard, posting a brief tweet reading ‘It was like an apparition in French cinema. Then he became a master. Jean-Luc Godard, the most iconoclastic of New Wave filmmakers, had invented a resolutely modern, intensely free art. We have lost a national treasure, one regarded as a genius.’