Jean-Luc Godard

18.08.2011 in10:50 in Film director,stage director -->


Jean-Luc Godard was born in Paris on December 3, 1930, the second of four children in a bourgeois Franco-Swiss family. His father was a doctor who owned a private clinic, and his mother came from an preeminent family of Swiss bankers.

During World War II, Godard became a naturalized citizen of Switzerland, and attended the school in Nyons (Switzerland). His parents divorced in 1948, at which time he returned to Paris to attend the Lycée Rohmer. In 1949, he studied at the Sorbonne to prepare for a degree in ethnology. However, it was during this time that he began attending with François Truffaut, Jacques Rivette, and Eric Rohmer.

In 1950, Godard with Rivette and Rohmer founded a “Gazette du cinéma”, which published five issues between May and November. He wrote a number of articles for the journal, often using the pseudonym ‘Hans Lucas’. After working on and financing two films by Rivette and Rohmer, Godard’s family cut off their financial support in 1951, and he resorted to a Bohemian lifestyle that included stealing food and money when necessary. In January 1952 he began writing film criticism for ‘Les cahiers du cinéma’. Later that year he traveled to North and South America with his father, and attempted to make his first film (of which only a tracking shot from a car was ever accomplished).

In 1953, he returned to Paris briefly before acquiring a job as a construction worker on a dam project in Switzerland. With the money from the job, he made a short film in 1954 about the building of the dam called Opération ‘Béton’ (1958) (Operation Concrete). Later that year, Godard’s mother was killed in a motor scooter accident in Switzerland. In 1956, Godard began writing again for ‘Les cahiers du cinéma’ as well as for the journal “Arts”. In 1957, Godard worked as the press attache for “Artistes Associés”, and made his first French film entitled Charlotte et Véronique, ou Tous les garçons s’appellent Patrick (1959) (Charlotte et Véronique).

In 1958, he shot Charlotte et son Jules (1960) (Charlotte and Her Boyfriend), his own homage to Jean Cocteau. Later that year, he took unused footage of a flood in Paris shot by Truffaut and edited a film called Une histoire d’eau (1961) (A Story of Water) which was an homage to Mack Sennett. In 1959, he worked with Truffaut on the weekly publication “Temps de Paris”. Godard wrote a gossip column for the journal, but also spent much time writing scenarios for films and a body of critical writings which placed him firmly in the forefront of the ‘nouvelle vague’ aesthetic, precursing the French New Wave.

It was also this year that Godard began work on the last breath (1960) (Breathless). In 1960, Godard married Anna Karina in Switzerland. In April and May, he shot Le petit soldat (1963) in Geneva and was preparing the film for a fall release in Paris. However, French censors banned the film due to its references to the Algerian war, and it was not shown until 1963. In March, 1960, the last breath (1960) premiered in Paris. It was hugely successful both with the film critics and at the box office, and became a landmark film in the French New Wave with its references to American cinema, its jagged editing, and overall romantic / cinephilia approach to filmmaking. The film propelled the popularity of the male lead Jean-Paul Belmondo with European audiences.

In 1961, Godard shot Une femme est une femme (1961) which was his first film using color wide-screen stock. Later that year, he participated in the collective effort to remake the film Les sept péchés capitaux (1962), which was heralded as an important project in artistic collaboration. In 1962, Godard shot Vivre sa vie: Film en douze tableaux (1962) in Paris, his first commercial success since the last breath (1960). Later that year, he shot a segment entitled Le Nouveau Monde for the collective film RoGoPaG, another important work in the history of collaborative multiple-authored art.

In 1963, Godard completed a film in homage to Jean Vigo entitled Les carabiniers (1963) which was a breath-taking failure with the public and stirred furious controversy with film critics. Also this year, he worked on a couple of collective films: Les plus belles escroqueries du monde (1964) (from which Godard’s sequence was later cut) and Paris vu par … (1965).

In 1964, Godard and his wife Anna Karina formed their own production company called ‘Anouchka Films.’ They shot a film called _Une femme mariée (1964) _ which censors forced them to re-edit due to a topless sunbathing scene shot by Jacques Rozier. The censors also made Godard change the title to _Une femme mariée (1964) _ so as to not give the impression that this ‘scandalous’ woman was the typical French wife. Later in the year, two French television programs were produced in devotion to Godard’s work.

In the spring of 1965, Godard shot Alfavill (1965) in Paris; in the summer, he shot Pierrot le fou (1965) in Paris and the south of France; shortly thereafter, he and Anna Karina separated. Following their divorce, Godard shot the film Made in USA (1966), _Deux ou trois choses que je sais d’elle (1966), L’amour en l’an 2000 (sequel to Alphaville shot as a sketch for the collective film L ‘amour travers les ages).

In 1967, Godard shot La chinoise (1967) in Paris with the actress Anne Wiazemsky, who was the granddaughter of the French novelist François Mauriac. During the making of the film, Godard and Wiazemsky were married in Paris. Later in the year, he was prevented from traveling to North Vietnam for the shooting of a sequence for the collective film Loin du Vietnam (1967). He instead shot the sequence in Paris, entitled Camera-Oeil. Also during 1967, Godard participated (as the only Frenchman) on an Italian collective film called Amore e rabbia (1969).

In 1968, Godard was commissioned by French television to make the film _Gai savoir, Le (1968) _. However, television producers were outraged by the product Godard produced, and they refused to show it.

In May of 1968, Godard was furious with the firing of Henri Langlois as the head of the French Jean-Pierre Gorin to form the ‘Dziga-Vertov’ group. Godard became increasingly concerned with socialist solutions to an idealist cinema, especially in providing the proletariat with the means of production and distribution. Along with other militantly political filmmakers in the Dziga-Vertov group, Godard published a series of ‘Ciné-Tracts’ outlining these viewpoints. In the Summer of 1968, Godard travelled to New York City and Berkeley California to shoot the film One American Movie, which was never completed. In September he made a trip to Canada to start another film called Communication (s) which was also left unfinished, and then made a visit to Cuba before returning to France.

In 1969, Godard traveled to England where he made the film British Sounds for BBC Weekend Television, which later refused to show it. In the late Spring he traveled with the Dziga-Vertov group to Prague to secretly shoot the film Pravda. Later that year he shot Lotte in Italia (Struggle for Italy) for Italian television. It was never shown.

In 1970, Godard traveled to Lebanon to shoot a film for the Palestinian Liberation Organization entitled Jusque à la victoire (Until Victory). Later that year he traveled to dozens of American universities trying to raise money for the film. In spite of his efforts, it was never released.
IMDb Mini Biography By: Julian Scaff <>

Anne Wiazemsky (22 July 1967 – 1979) (divorced)
Anna Karina (3 March 1961 – 1967) (divorced)
Anne-Marie Miéville (? – Present)

Trade Mark

Frequently casts Anna Karina

Shot-reverse-shot of characters looking at faces on a sheet / poster (Anna Karina looking at the faces on dollar bills in Bande à part (1964), Jean-Paul Belmondo looking at a poster of Humphrey Bogart in the last breath (1960 )).

[Homage] Frequently reference French Literature and American Film Noir / B-Movies (_À bout de souffle (1960) _, _Band of Outsiders (1964) _).

[Jump-cuts] His _À bout de souffle (1960) _ popularized the use of jump-cutting and ignoring the 180 degree line.


Was voted the 31st Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly.

Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. “World Film Directors, Volume Two, 1945-1985″. Pages 392-400. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1988.

A huge fan of American auteur Nicholas Ray and famously said that “the cinema is Nicholas Ray.”.

Was offered the opportunity to direct Bonnie and Clyde (1967) after François Truffaut declined.

Had a falling out with François Truffaut after Truffaut made it clear that he considered Godard overly cynical in his views and claimed that Godard tried to put down other filmmakers only to raise regard of his own work.

As of the 5th edition of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die (edited by Steven Jay Schneider), eight of Godard’s films are listed: On the last breath (1960), Vivre sa vie: Film en douze tableaux (1962), Le mépris (1963), Alfavill (1965), Pierrot le fou (1965), Masculin féminin: 15 faits précis (1966), 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d’elle (1967) and Week End (1967).

Personal Quotes

I make film to make time pass.

I don’t think you should FEEL about a movie. You should feel about a woman. You can’t kiss a movie.

Tracking shots are a question of morality.

[On Los Angeles] It’s a big garage.

There is no point in having sharp images when you’ve fuzzy ideas.

Every edit is a lie.

Up to now – since shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution – most movie makers have been assuming that they know how to make movies. Just like a bad writer doesn’t ask himself if he’s really capable of writing a novel – he thinks he knows. If movie makers were building airplanes, there would be an accident every time one took off. But in the movies, these accidents are called Oscars.

What I want above all is to destroy the idea of ​​culture. Culture is an alibi of imperialism. There is a Ministry of War. There is a Ministry of Culture. Therefore, culture is war.

I write essays in the form of novels, or novels in the form of essays. I’m still as much of a critic as I ever was during the time of ‘Cahiers du Cinema.’ The only difference is that instead of writing criticism, I now film it.

In a house there is the top floor and there is the cellar. The underground filmmakers live in the same house as Hollywood, but they work in the cellar. It’s up to them if they like to live in the dark. The Hollywood filmmakers are more intelligent, because they have that sunny top floor.

A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order.

All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun.

[At the 2004 Cannes Film Festival about filmmaker Michael Moore] Post-war filmmakers gave us the documentary, Rob Reiner gave us the mockumentary and Moore initiated a third genre, the crockumentary.

It’s over. There was a time maybe when cinema could have improved society, but that time was missed.

In the beginning I believed in Cannes, but now it’s just for publicity. People come to Cannes just to advertise their films, not with a particular message. But the advantage is that if you go to the festival, you get so much press coverage in three days that it advertises the film for the rest of the year.

People in life quote as they please, so we have the right to quote as we please. Therefore I show people quoting, merely making sure that they quote what pleases me.

You don’t make a movie, the movie makes you.

My aesthetic is that of the sniper on the roof.

Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world.

In order to criticize a movie, you have to make another movie.

[In Paris, 10/18/66] Until I am paid on par with [Henri-Georges Clouzot, [Federico Fellini and ['Rene Clément', I cannot consider myself to be a success.

[On Kenji Mizoguchi] The greatest of Japanese filmmakers. Or, quite simply, one of the greatest of filmmakers.

In my cinema, there are never any intentions. It’s not me inventing this empty auditorium. I don’t want to say anything, I try to show, or to get feeling across, or to allow something else to be said after the fact.

I don’t believe in the body of work. There are works, they might be produced in individual installments, but the body of work as a collection, the great oeuvre, I have no interest in it. I prefer to speak in terms of pathways. Along my course, there are highs and there are lows, there are attempts … I’ve towed the line a lot. You know, the most difficult thing is to tell a friend that what he’s done isn’t very good. I can’t do it. Eric Rohmer was brave enough to tell me at the time of the Cahiers that my critique of Strangers on a Train (1951) was bad. Jacques Rivette could say it too. And we paid a lot of attention to what Rivette thought. As for François Truffaut, he didn’t forgive me for thinking his films were worthless. He also suffered from not ending up finding my films as worthless as I thought his own were.