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Jean-Luc Godard Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (3)  | Trade Mark (4)  | Trivia (17)  | Personal Quotes (36)

Overview (3)

Born in Paris, France
Nickname JLG
Height 5' 8½" (1.74 m)

Mini Bio (1)

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 a preeminent family of Swiss bankers. During World War II Godard became a naturalized citizen of Switzerland and attended 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 Éric Rohmer.

In 1950 Godard, with Rivette and Rohmer, founded "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 Godard worked on and financed 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 securing 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 his 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, Charlotte et Véronique, ou Tous les garçons s'appellent Patrick (1959) (aka "Charlotte et Véronique").

In 1958 he shot Charlotte et son Jules (1960) ("Charlotte and Her Boyfriend"), his homage to Jean Cocteau. Later that year he took unused footage of a flood in Paris shot by Truffaut and edited it into 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 in that year Godard began work on Breathless (1960) ("Breathless"). In 1960 he 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 it due to its references to the Algerian war, and it was not shown until 1963. In March 1960 Breathless (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 male lead Jean-Paul Belmondo with European audiences.

In 1961 Godard shot A Woman Is a Woman (1961), his first film using color widescreen 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 My Life to Live (1962) in Paris, his first commercial success since "À bout de souffle". Later that year he shot a segment entitled "Le Nouveau Monde" for the collective film Ro.Go.Pa.G. (1963), 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 resounding failure with the public and stirred furious controversy with film critics. Also that 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, 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 marié" 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 Alphaville (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 Made in U.S.A (1966), "Deux ou trois choses que je sais d'elle (1966)", "L'amour en l'an 2000" (1966) (a sequel to "Alphaville" shot as a sketch for the collective film "L'amour travers les ages" (1966)).

In 1967 Godard shot La Chinoise (1967) in Paris with Anne Wiazemsky, who was the granddaughter of 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 Far from 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 Le Gai Savoir (1969). However, television producers were so outraged by the product Godard produced that they refused to show it. In May of that year Henri Langlois was fired by the head of the French Jean-Pierre Gorin to form the Dziga-Vertov group, infuriating Godard. He 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 traveled 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 also went unfinished, and then made a visit to Cuba before returning to France.

In 1969 Godard traveled to England, where he made the film See You at Mao (1970) for BBC Weekend Television, but the network 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 (1971) ("Struggle for Italy") for Italian television. It was never shown, either.

In 1970 Godard traveled to Lebanon to shoot a film for the Palestinian Liberation Organization entitled "Jusque à la victoire" (1970) ("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 <jscaff@ucla.edu> (qv's & corrections by A. Nonymous)

Spouse (3)

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

Trade Mark (4)

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 Band of Outsiders (1964), Jean-Paul Belmondo looking at a poster of Humphrey Bogart in Breathless (1960)).
[Homage] Frequently reference French Literature and American Film Noir/B-Movies (Breathless (1960), Band of Outsiders (1964)).
[Jump-cuts] His Breathless (1960) popularized the use of jump-cutting and ignoring the 180 degree line.

Trivia (17)

Was voted the 31st Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
On his short film Charlotte et son Jules (1960) Godard had to go and do military service before he could record the soundtrack.
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 some critical remarks he made on Truffaut's film Day for Night (1973) to which 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), 8 of Godard's films are listed: Breathless (1960), My Life to Live (1962), Contempt (1963), Alphaville (1965), Pierrot le Fou (1965), Masculin Féminin (1966), 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle (1967) and Weekend (1967).
Son of the Swiss Doctor Paul Godard and Odile Monod.
Grandson of the wealthy French banker Julien Monod, who was a close friend to the poet Paul Valéry and, after Valéry's death in 1945, his literary executor.
Brother of Rachel (b. 1930), Claude (b. 1933) and Véronique Godard (b. 1937).
Studied at Lycée Buffon in Paris 1946-48.
More than half of Godard's 43 feature films had their American premieres at the New York Film Festival in Manhattan, and in October 2013 the Festival featured a comprehensive retrospective of his work.
Rolle, Canton of Vaud, Switzerland (since 1978) [2007]
Mentioned in the song 'Eduardo e Mônica' by Legião Urbana.
Mentioned in the song 'Selvagem' by Paralamas do Sucesso.
His falling-out with Francois Truffaut was a savage one - Truffaut famously called him "the Ursula Andress of militancy" - but after Truffaut's early death in 1984, Godard wrote a moving tribute to his former friend and deeply regretted their quarrel.
Retrospective at the 10th New Horizons Film Festival (2010). 98 of his film have been shown.

Personal Quotes (36)

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 René 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. Éric 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.
Cinema begins with D.W. Griffith and ends with Abbas Kiarostami.
[on Quentin Tarantino] Tarantino named his production company after one of my films. He'd have done better to give me some money.
[on Steven Spielberg] I don't know him personally. I don't think his films are very good.
A film should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order.
Bresson [Robert Bresson] is to French cinema what Mozart [Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart] is to German music and Dostoyevsky [Fyodor Dostoevsky] is to Russian literature.
[on Orson Welles] All of us will always owe him everything.
If the cinema no longer existed, Nicholas Ray alone gives the impression of being capable of reinventing it, and, what is more, of wanting to.
[on Emmanuelle Riva's performance in Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959)] Let's take the character played by Emmanuelle Riva. If you ran into her on the street, or saw her every day, I think she would only be of interest to a very limited number of people. But in the film she interests everyone. For me, she's the kind of girl who works at the "Editions du Seuil" or for "L'Express", a kind of 1959 George Sand. A priori, she doesn't interest me, because I prefer the kind of girl you see in [Renato] Castellani's film. This said, Resnais has directed Emmanuelle Riva in such a prodigious way that now I want to read books from "Le Seuil" or "L'Express".
To me, thinking about films and making them is no different.
Pernaps the most interesting thing with video is that you can grab the camera easily. But if you can grab the camera easily, maybe you can put it down more easily too and think about it better.
The cinema should consist not so much in showing what's happening. Films should show what is not happening. [May 2018]
When you produce an image, be it of the past, the present or the future, you have to do away with two images each time to find the really good one. [May 2018]

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