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Encyclopedia > Jean Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard (born December 3, 1930) was one of the most influential members of the nouvelle vague.

Born in Paris to Franco-Swiss parents, he was educated in Lyon and at the Lycée Rohmer and the Sorbonne in Paris. While at the Sorbonne he became involved in a Paris film club and became attached to a group including François Truffaut, Jacques Rivette, and Eric Rohmer. When André Bazin founded his critical magazine Cahiers du cinéma in 1951, Godard with Rivette and Rohmer were among the first writers.


Early films

Like many writers for Cahiers du cinéma, Godard started making some brief forays into film direction. His first film was a documentary, Opération béton (1954). In 1958, he shot Charlotte et son Jules (released in 1960) and Une histoire d'eau (released in 1961), the first was a homage to Jean Cocteau the second to Mack Sennett. He continued his critical writing however and became one of the key proponents of the nouvelle vague or New Wave.

His first major work was À bout de souffle (1960), starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg. It was a success both critically and with audiences in France and internationally, and became a key film of the New Wave styles — American cinema influences, harsh editing, and a real pleasure in film-making. His next success was Vivre sa vie (1962). The following year he made the marvellous failure Les Carabiniers, a homage to Vigo.

In 1964, Godard and his wife Anna Karina (married in 1961) formed a production company, Anouchka Films. In 1965, Godard directed Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution and Pierrot le fou. At the end of that year he and Anna Karina divorced.

Godard and politics

Politics have never been far from the surface in Godard's films. One of his earliest features, Le Petit Soldat, dealt with the Algerian war of independence, and was notable for its attempt to present the complexity of the dispute rather than pursue any specific ideological agenda. Godard's early career is characterised by the interspersing of such films with 'lighter' romantic films such as Une Femme est une Femmme; however, as the sixties progressed he began to merge the two genres — romantic and political — to produce films like Alphaville and Pierrot le Fou, masterpieces of alienation. Towards the end of the decade he began to move ever-closer to overtly political statements in his films, shooting Masculin, féminin (1966) and Made in U.S.A. (1966), amongst others. In 1967, he directed La Chinoise, marrying its star Anne Wiazemsky during filming.

Amid the upheavals of the late 1960s Godard became interested in Maoist ideology. He formed the socialist-idealist Dziga-Vertov cinema group with Jean-Pierre Gorin 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, but the dazzling anti-consumerist Week End was released in 1967. His films became intensely politicized and experimental, a phase that lasted until 1980.

Later films

His return to somewhat more traditional fiction was marked with Sauve qui peut (1980), the first of a series of more mainstream films marked by autobiographical currents: for example Passion (1982), Lettre à Freddy Buache (1982), Prénom Carmen (1984) and Grandeur et décadence (1986). There was, though, another flurry of controversy with Marie, Je vous salue (1985), which was banned by the Catholic Church for alleged heresy, and also with King Lear (1987), an extraordinary but much-excoriated essay on Shakespeare and language.

His later films have been marked by great formal beauty and frequently a sense of requiem — films such as Nouvelle Vague (1990), the autobiographical JLG/JLG - autoportrait de décembre (1995), and For Ever Mozart (1996). During the 1990s he also produced perhaps the most important work of his career in the multi-part series Histoires du Cinema, 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.

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Jean-Luc Godard


Notre musique (2004)
Ten Minutes Older: The Cello (2002) (segment Dans le noir du temps)
Éloge de l'amour/In Praise of Love (2001)
L'Origine du XXIème siècle/Origin of the 21st Century (2000)
The Old Place (1998)
For Ever Mozart (1996)
Deux fois cinquante ans de cinéma français/2 x 50 Years of French Cinema (1995)
JLG/JLG - autoportrait de décembre/JLG/JLG - Self-Portrait in December (1995)
Les Enfants jouent à la Russie/The Kids Play Russian (1993)
Hélas pour moi/Oh Woe Is Me (1993)
Allemagne année 90 neuf zéro/Germany Year 90 Nine Zero (1991)
Contre l'oubli/Lest We Forget (1991) (segment Pour Thomas Wainggai)
Comment vont les enfants/How Are the Kids? (1990) (segment L'enfance de l'art)
Nouvelle vague/New Wave (1990)
Le Rapport Darty (1989)
Histoire(s) du cinéma (in multiple parts, 1989-1989)
The French as seen by... - (Le dernier mot) (1988)
On s'est tous défilé (1988)
Puissance de la parole (1988)
Soigne ta droite/Keep Your Right Up! (1987)
Aria (1987) (segment Armide)
King Lear (1987)
Meetin' WA/J.L.G. Meets W.A. (1986)
Soft and Hard (1986)
Détective (1985)
Je vous salue, Marie/Hail Mary (1985)
Prénom Carmen/First Name: Carmen (1983)
Passion (1982)
Lettre à Freddy Buache (1981)
Sauve qui peut (la vie)/Every Man for Himself (U.S.)/Slow Motion (UK) (1979)
Comment ça va? (1976)
Ici et ailleurs/Here and Elsewhere (1976)
Numéro deux (1975)
Lettre à Jane/Letter to Jane (1972)
Tout va bien (1972)
One P.M. (1972) (abandoned by Godard, completed by D.A. Pennebaker)
British Sounds/See You at Mao (U.S.) (1970)
Amore e rabbia (1969) (segment L'Amour)
Cinétracts (1968)
Le Gai savoir (1968)
Un film comme les autres (1968)
One Plus One/Sympathy for the Devil (1968)
Week End (1967)
Loin du Vietnam/Far from Vietnam (1967) (segment Caméra-oeil)
La Chinoise (1967)
Le Plus vieux métier du monde/The Oldest Profession (1967) (segment Anticipation, ou l'amour en l'an 2000)
2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle/ Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1967)
Made in U.S.A. (1966)
Masculin, féminin (1966)
Pierrot le fou (1965)
Paris vu par.../Six in Paris (1965) (segment Montparnasse-Levallois)
Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965)
Les Plus belles escroqueries du monde (1964) (segment Le Grand escroc)
Bande à part/Band of Outsiders (U.S.)/The Outsiders (UK) (1964)
Le Mépris/Contempt (1963)
Les Carabiniers/The Riflemen (U.S.)/The Soldiers (UK) (1963)
Le Petit soldat (1963)
RoGoPaG/Laviamoci il cervello (1962) (segment Il Nuovo mondo)
Vivre sa vie: Film en douze tableaux / My Life to Live (U.S.) / It's My Life (UK) (1962)
Les Sept péchés capitaux (1962) (segment La Paresse)
Une femme est une femme/A Woman Is a Woman (1961)
Une histoire d'eau (1961)
Charlotte et son Jules (1960)
À bout de souffle/Breathless (1960)
Tous les garçons s'appellent Patrick/All the Boys Are Called Patrick (1959)
Une femme coquette (1955)
Opération béton (1954)

See also



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