Jean-Luc Godard, who was born in Paris 90 years ago today, on 3 December 1930, is probably the most innovative, productive and controversial director (or rather auteur) of the “Nouvelle Vague“, and he has changed the language of film like hardly anyone else. Congratulations! Godard’s career began in the 1950s as a film critic, among others for the famous Cahiers du cinéma. He described this phase of his life as extremely important for his later cinematic work.
In 1960 he made his first feature film ” Breathless“. Shot in black and white and influenced by Film Noir, the film starring the then unknown Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg became the first “classic” of the Nouvelle Vague and was awarded the Silver Bear for “Best Director“ at the Berlinale. François Truffaut, who was still a friend of Godard at the time, had written the screenplay. With this film, Godard broke with the viewing habits of the audience and introduced new stylistic devices such as hand cameras, improvised dialogues and new editing techniques into the film.
Until the end of the 1960s he was very productive and tried his hand at different genres. Some of the most famous works of this period are the comedy “A Woman is a Woman“, the melodrama “My Live to Live“, the gangster film “Band of Outsiders“, the science fiction film “Alphaville” (all starring his then wife Anna Karina) and the film within a film “Contempt” (starring Brigitte Bardot and Michel Piccoli).
He moved further and further away from classical narrative cinema and towards an experimental use of camera movements, colour, music, written panels and documentary passages, his films thus becoming collage-like images of reality. This phase culminated in “La Chinoise” (with his then partner Anne Wiazemsky), which UCM.ONE released on DVD in August on the Artkeim² label in the Édition ParaSol Videothèque in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. At the Venice Film Festival in 1967 the film received the “Special Jury Prize“.
After the Paris student riots of May 1968, Godard demonstratively turned away from commercial cinema. In the early 1970s he founded the video production company Sonimage together with his new partner, Swiss filmmaker Anne-Marie Miéville. They mainly produced innovative video works for European TV stations.
From the 1980s onwards he sporadically made feature films, but continued to work a lot for television, engaged in cinematic self-reflection as in “Nouvelle Vague“ and dealt with the history of cinema, as in the cinematic essays “Histoire(s) du cinéma”. He lives in Switzerland at Lake Geneva and remains active in film making to this day.