HomeBBC NEWSEntertainmentJean-Luc Godard: Legendary film director dies at 91 by assisted suicide

    Jean-Luc Godard: Legendary film director dies at 91 by assisted suicide


    Jean-Luc Godard, the film director who led the revolutionary New Wave of French cinema, has died at the age of 91.

    Godard burst onto the scene with À bout de souffle (Panting) in the 1960s, starting a string of critically acclaimed films that rewrote the rules of cinema and influenced directors from Martin Scorsese to Quentin Tarantino.

    A family representative said he died of assisted suicide in Switzerland.

    French President Emmanuel Macron called Godard “a visionary genius.

    In a tribute on Twitter, Mr. Macron wrote: “He was like a ghost in French cinema. Then he became a master of cinema.

    “Jean-Luc Godard, the most anti-traditional New Wave filmmaker, invented an art that was absolutely modern and extremely free. We have lost a national treasure, a man with a visionary genius.”

    Godard’s legal adviser, Patrick Jeanneret, told AFP news agency that the French-Swiss filmmaker “sought legal assistance in Switzerland to leave voluntarily because he was suffering from ‘multiple ineffective diseases,'” according to medical reports.

    Under certain circumstances, assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland.

    Godard started out as a film critic, then stood behind the camera with a fashionably avant-garde panting. Its stars, Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo, glamorize in a new, casual way, while the camera keeps moving, the editing is swift and bold, and the script is semi-improvised.

    The director once said, “It’s a film that takes everything cinema does – girls, gangs, cars – and explodes it, ending the old style once and for all.”

    Image caption,Jean-Luc Godard with Anna Karina and Jean-Paul Belmondo on the set of Pierrot Le Fou in 1965

    A close second was Le Petit Soldat (The Little Soldier) – although this film was banned until 1963 because it depicted government-sanctioned torture.

    Its cast included Danish model Anna Karina, who married Godard in 1961 and went on to appear in his most successful series of films.

    She played a nightclub dancer who wants a child in 1961’s Une Femme est une Femme (A Woman Is A Woman); a young Parisian prostitute in 1962’s Vivre sa vie (My Life); and a gang member in 1965’s Bande à Part (The Outsiders).

    Tarantino named his production company A Band Apart, a reference to the original title of the latter film, and has said that Godard was “very influential” to him as a director.

    “Godard taught me the joy, freedom and pleasure of breaking the rules …… I think Godard is to film what Bob Dylan is to music,” he said.

    Image caption,Jean-Luc Godard directing Brigitte Bardot in 1963’s Contempt

    Godard’s vast array of influential films from the 1960s also includes Alphaville and Le Mépris (Contempt).

    Contempt, starring Brigitte Bardot from 1963, was named by Scorsese as one of his 10 favorite films. The director of Taxi Driver wrote in 2014 that it was “one of the most moving films of its time” and that Godard was “a great modern cinematic visual artist”.

    Godard’s storyline also confuses time and space, changing the idea of a fixed narrative. He once said, “A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end – but not necessarily in that order.”

    In all, he has more than 100 films to his name, including Une Femme Mariée (1964), Pierrot le fou (1965), Masculin Féminin (1966) and Week-end (1967).

    ‘A new kind of cinema’

    He’s a genius,” says actress Macha Méril, who stars in Une Femme Mariée. What is a genius? It’s someone who does something that’s never been done before and forces other people to change the way they think and the way they do things.

    “It’s like Picasso …… Genius is someone who changes the way people think.”

    His dedication, for which he received an honorary Oscar in 2011, is: “For passion. To confrontation. To a new kind of cinema.”

    Godard’s latest work was released in 2018, though some believe he shifted from provocative to deliberately obscure as his career progressed.

    Image caption,Godard filming student marches on the streets of Paris in 1968

    In a statement Tuesday, his family said the director died “peacefully at home. They added: “There will be no formal [funeral] service. He will be cremated.”

    Former French Culture Minister Jack Lang told Reuters, “He made films full of poetry and philosophy. His keen and unique vision allowed us to see the imperceptible.”

    Other tributes included actor Antonio Banderas, who wrote, “Thank you Mr. Godard for expanding the boundaries of cinema.”

    Baby Driver director Edgar Wright wrote, “Rest in peace to Jean-Luc Godard, one of the most influential and convention-breaking filmmakers of them all.

    “It’s ironic that he himself revered the Hollywood studio system of filmmaking, because perhaps no other director could have inspired so many people to pick up a camera and start shooting.”

    Critics also discussed his style and influence.

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