Damn great French filmmaker, born in 1930 in Paris. Became a film critic in 1950 with a magazine he made with Jaques Rivette and Eric Rohmer, and was hired by Cahiers du Cinema in 1952.

In between 1954 and 1958 he produced three short films, and in 1959 he filmed Breathless (À Bout de Soufle), which was based on a story written by François Truffaut and starred Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg. It was released in 1960 to massive critical acclaim, made Belmondo the biggest new male lead in French cinema, and earned Godard the Silver Bear for Directing at the Berlin Film Festival.

In 1961 Godard returned with A Woman is a Woman {Une Femme est une Femme), which featured Anna Karina, the woman that Godard married the year before. It was his first color film and it won Karina a Best Actress Silver Bear and Godard a Special Prize at Berlin.

In 1962 he filmed segments for two collective films, The Seven Deadly Sins and RoGoPaG. He also made his second commercial hit, My Life To Live (Vivre Sa Vie}, with Karina as a woman who descends into prostitution. This movie won the Parsinetti Prize and the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival.

In 1963 he released Le Petit Solidat, which was filmed in 1960 but bannned for three years in France due to references to the Algerian war. He also filmed and released Les Carabiners, another meditation on war, and a segment for Six in Paris. He also made Contempt, his biggest release in the American market, which starred Brigitte Bardot and Jack Palance. The title was a refrence to the fact he held coproducer Joseph E. Levine in contempt over clashes in making the movie.

In 1964 he made Band of Outsiders (Bande à Part), which was a heavy influence on Quentin Tarantino some thirty years later. He also filmed A Married Woman (Une Femme Marièe), which was produced by his new company formed with his wife Karina.

1965 saw the making of several Godard films. First was his greatest contribution to nerd/geek culture, the sci-fi detective thriller Alphaville, with Eddie Constantine and Karina. Second was Pierrot Le Fou with Karina and Belmondo, which many people argue is the best movie he's ever done. It features a cameo by one of his favorite American directors, Samuel Fuller. He also filmed Made in U.S.A., which was his final film with Karina, and was released the next year in France and unreleased to this date in America.

In 1966 he released the movie that he filmed at the end of '65, Masculine-Feminine, which won three awards at Berlin. It was based on a pair of Guy De Maupassant stories and starred Truffaut poster-boy Jean-Pierre Léaud and YeYe singer Chantal Goya, with cameos by Bardot and French pop star Françoise Hardy. This movie represented the beginning of a heavy socio-political consciousness in his movies, punctuated by a discussion about "Marx and Coca-Cola]". He furthered his ideas in 2 or 3 Things That I Know About Her, which involves a housewife who becomes a prostitute to raise her social status.

The beginning of 1967 saw him making and releasing La Chinoise, a sometimes serious/sometimes farcial look at Maoism. During the filming he married his star Anne Wiazemsky. He then made his most audacious, jarring, chaotic, and mindblowing work ever - Week-end. The collapse of society under the weight of consumerism was never presented better, never more starkly. This was the birth of the road movie gone to hell, but for Godard, at least for the time being, it was the "End of Cinema".

In 1968 he left the world of traditional filmmaking and didn't release another feature length film for 12 years. Those 12 years are just as interesting in their own right. He left the French film organization Cinémathèque with Jean-Pierre Gorin to form the Dziga-Vertov group, devoted to his multimedia projects that revolved around Marxism, Maoism, youth rebellion, the Black Panthers, the Vietnam War, and the deconstruction of cinema. A prologue to these projects was One Plus One, retitled Sympathy For the Devil for American distribution, which was footage of the Rolling Stones, interspersed with highly political monologues.

The Dziga-Vertrov projects included such films as A Film Like Any Other, Wind from the East, Vladimir et Rosa (a reinterpretation of the Chicago Eight trial), Lotte in Italia, British Sounds, One P.M. (made with Don't Look Back director D.A. Pennebaker), Tout Va Bien, and Letter to Jane (with Jane Fonda reflecting on her infamous pro-Viet Cong photograph).

After disappearing from the public eye in 1972, he resurfaced with new wife Anne-Marie Wiazemsky, a slow return back to cinematic focus with new solo and collaborative (with Miéville) projects in the same style as his Dziga-Vertrov work. These include Numêro deux, Ici et alleurs (another D-V project with Gorin), Comment ça va?, and a pair of projects for television.

In 1979 he returned to feature length films with Every Man For Himself (Sauve qui peut la vie), with Isabelle Huppert and Nathalie Baye. In 1982 he was set to return to the spotlight in America with Passion, which was going to be released through Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope pictures before it was hit by bankruptcy. Passion told the story of internal conflicts of a stage production of the passion play, and also starred Isabelle Huppert, Jerzy Radziwilowicz and Michel Picolli.

Some of his other work in the past few years includes First Name: Carmen from 1983, 1985's Detective (with Nathalie Baye, Jean-Pierre Lèaud, Emmanuelle Seigner, Johnny Hallyday, Julie Delpy, Claude Brasseur, and Alain Cuny), a bizarre retelling of King Lear from 1987 (co-written by Norman Mailer and starring Woody Allen, Burgess Meredith and Molly Ringwald!), and 1996's For Ever Mozart (his most recent movie to be seen in America, a portrayal of a filmmaking group's struggle to work during the Bosnian War).

Enough talking. Go watch a Godard film. Now dammit.

Editor's note: Jean-Luc Godard died, aged 91, on September 13, 2022 in Rolle, Switzerland, via assisted suicide.

An embodiment and propagator of the idea of the auteur, back in the late-50's/early-60's - he made quirky, funky-fresh (in their day) films that were part of a "new wave" of French cinema. Became more explicitly political (pseudo-Maoist) in the late 60's, and blended polemic and documentary and experimental ideas into his core techniques - a poster boy for career suicide. He has been a softer, subtler version of that since then, still cool, never lame or predictable.

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