La Nouvelle Vague

French-Swiss Jean-Luc Godard, born December 3, 1930, has been involved in virtually every aspect of filmmaking. His name is always linked to the Nouvelle Vague (noovel vahg) or “New Wave” in French cinema. His films challenged tradition, while, at the same time, he showed his compendious knowledge of the history of genre, by making references to past films in his own works. He also included allusions to his own political and philosophical views, namely Marxism and Existentialism. He received an Honorary César in 1987 and 1998 and an Honorary Oscar in 2010.

A scene from Jean-Luc Godard's Nouvelle Vague ...

A scene from Jean-Luc Godard’s Nouvelle Vague film Breathless (1960) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Godard came to Paris to attend University, but instead he began hanging out in ciné-clubs to immerse himself in old movies, along with people like Jacques Demy and François Truffaut, also luminaries of the Nouvelle Vague. His first big film was À bout de soufflé (Breathless) (1960). He often collaborated with his Danish-born actress wife Anna Karina, including in Bande à part (Band of Outsiders) (1964), which was a gangster-love story. These early films were more about the “look” and breaking rules than the story, but other Godard films tackled serious issues, such as the French war in Algeria and the American war in Vietnam and characters often addressed the audience directly with their thoughts. A recurrent theme in his movies is how consumerism contributes to alienation. He has remained active in filmmaking and is apparently planning to shoot a movie in 3-D. Pretty good for an 81 year-old.

Histoire du Cinéma

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About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French and English teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France.
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