Jean-Luc Godard

"His merging of the personal and political, and his quest for new meanings through new and complex juxtapositions of sound and image have ensured that his varied, prolific output has profoundly influenced post-'50s cinema." - Geoff Andrew (Film Handbook, 1989)

Jean-Luc Godard

Director / Screenwriter / Actor / Editor / Producer / Cinematographer
(1930- ) Born December 3, Paris, France
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Countries: France, Switzerland, Italy
Key Genres: Drama, Avant-garde/Experimental, Psychological Drama, Essay Film, Documentary, Urban Drama, Short Films, Satire, Romantic Drama, Showbiz Drama, Road Movie, Crime Drama
Key Collaborators: Raoul Coutard (Cinematographer), Agnes Guillemot (Editor), Georges de Beauregard (Producer), Anna Karina (Leading Actress), Jean-Pierre Leaud (Leading Character Actor), Laszlo Szabo (Character Actor), Alain Sarde (Producer), Jean-Paul Belmondo (Leading Actor), Françoise Collin (Editor), Juliet Berto (Leading Character Actress), Ernest Menzer (Character Actor), Anne Wiazemsky (Leading Actress)

"Godard 's work poses fundamental questions about narrative. While his first films, such as Breathless and A Woman Is a Woman, have fairly straightforward plots, he gradually moved toward a more fragmentary, collage structure. A story is still apparent, but it is deflected into unpredictable paths. Godard juxtaposes staged scenes with documentary material (advertisements, comic strips, crowds passing in the street), often with little connection to the narrative. Far more than his New Wave contemporaries, Godard mixes conventions drawn from popular culture, such as detective novels or Hollywood movies, with references to philosophy or avant-garde art. The inconsistencies, digressions, and disunities of Godard's work make most New Wave films seem quite traditional by comparison." - Kristin Thompson & David Bordwell (Film History: An Introduction, 2009)
"Godard is the first filmmaker to bristle with the effort of digesting all previous cinema and to make cinema itself his subject. He emerged from the darkness of the Cinémathèque rather than from any plausible biographical background... Filmmaking for Godard is neither occupation nor vocation, it is existence itself. His inescapable dialectic is in terms of cinema and his politics have arisen - disastrously, I think - from cinema theory." - David Thomson (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, 2002)
"Whether he delights or irritates you, Godard sits securely in the front rank of screen originals, and it is good that he succeeded in rejoining the mainstream of French cinema in 1980 after more than ten years' self-exile to its fringes... Nonetheless the quality of his films has been much more variable in recent times compared to his heyday of the 1960s, including a disastrous modernised sideshoot of King Lear." - David Quinlan (Quinlan's Film Directors, 1999)
"If influence on the development of world cinema is the criterion, then Jean-Luc Godard is certainly the most important filmmaker of the past thirty years; he is also one of the most problematic... As ex-Cahiers du Cinema critic and New Wave filmmaker, Godard was initially linked with Truffaut and Chabrol in a kind of revolutionary triumvirate; it is easy, in retrospect, to see that Godard was from the start the truly radical figure, the "revolution" of his colleagues operating purely on the aesthetic level and easily assimilable to the mainstream." - Robin Wood and Rob Edelman (The St. James Film Directors Encyclopedia, 1998)
"Godard's impact on the cinema of the 60s was cataclysmal and sweeping and his contribution to the art, thought, and language of the cinema significant. He used the camera not only creatively and inventively, rewriting the syntax of film grammar along the way, but also as a means of personal expression to tell the "the truth 24 times a second"… In removing himself from the mainstream and subjugating his role as an artist to a mission as a political activist, Godard knowingly relinquished his following, along with it his once-considerable influence on the shaping of cinema as a thinking man's art." - The MacMillan International Film Encyclopedia, 1994
"Godard's critical engagement with form is another constant in his oeuvre, which has remained more radical and experimental than that of any of his nouvelle vague peers. That crucial disjunction between picture and sound (he and partner Anne-Marie Miéville formed a production company called "Sonimage" in the 1970s) i s every bit as central to his films as his politics (which famously swung towards Maoism in the late 1960s), or such recurring themes as prostitution and imperialism." - Tom Charity (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
"Godard is one of the most important filmmakers in cinema history. He has made audiences think about how films are made in a series of dramatic essays on subjects ranging from the Hollywood gangster film to the musical, the Marxist struggle, and films, filming, and filmmakers themselves." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)
"For me, discovering cinema was directly connected to his films. I was living in Paris at the time. When Made in USA opened, I went to the first show - it was around noon - and I sat there until midnight. I saw it six times in a row." - Wim Wenders
"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." - Jean-Luc Godard
"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." - Jean-Luc Godard
"There is cinema before Godard and after Godard." - François Truffaut
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
Breathless (1960) , Une Femme est une femme (1961) , Contempt (1963) , A Married Woman (1964), Bande à part (1964) , Pierrot le fou (1965) , Masculin Feminin (1966)
Recommended
Vivre sa vie (1962) , Alphaville (1965) , Made in U.S.A. (1966), La Chinoise (1967), Tout va bien (1972) [co-directed by Jean-Pierre Gorin], Sauve qui peut (la vie) (1980) , Je vous salue, Sarajevo [TV] (1993), Histoire(s) du cinéma (1998)
Worth a Look
Charlotte and Veronique, or All the Boys Are Called Patrick (1957), Charlotte et Son Jules (1959), Le Petit Soldat (1960), Les Carabiniers (1963), RoGoPaG (1963) [also directed by Ugo Gregoretti, Pier Paolo Pasolini & Roberto Rossellini], Paris vu par… (1965) [also directed by Claude Chabrol, Jean Douchet, Jean-Daniel Pollet, Eric Rohmer & Jean Rouch], Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1966) , Loin du Vietnam (1967) [also directed by Joris Ivens, William Klein, Claude Lelouch, Agnès Varda, Chris Marker & Alain Resnais], Week-End (1967) , Le Gai Savoir (1968), Lotte in Italia (1971) [co-directed by Jean-Pierre Gorin], Numéro deux (1975) , Ici et ailleurs (1976) [co-directed by Anne-Marie Miéville & Jean-Pierre Gorin], Six fois deux/Sur et sous la communication [TV] (1976) [co-directed by Anne-Marie Miéville], Passion (1982) , Scénario du film 'Passion' (1982), Prénom Carmen (1983), Hail Mary (1985), Nouvelle vague (1990) , Germany Year 90 Nine Zero (1991), Oh, Woe is Me (1993), JLG/JLG (1995), Origins of the 21st Century (2000), In Praise of Love (2001) , Ten Minutes Older: The Cello (2002) [also directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, Claire Denis, Mike Figgis, Jirí Menzel, Michael Radford, Volker Schlöndorff & István Szabó], Moments choisis des histoire(s) du cinéma (2004), Notre musique (2004) , Film socialisme (2010)
Approach with Caution
Un Film comme les autres (1968), Le Vent d'est (1969), British Sounds (1970), Letter to Jane (1972) [co-directed by Jean-Pierre Gorin], 1 P.M. (1972) [co-directed by D.A. Pennebaker & Richard Leacock], King Lear (1987), Puissance de la parole (1988)
Not Recommended
Pravda (1970) [co-directed by Paul Burron & Jean-Henri Roger], France/tour/detour/deux/enfants [TV] (1977) [co-directed by Anne-Marie Miéville]
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
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