the man behind the legend | The USA Print

the man behind the legend

Unruly, undisciplined, someone who could never walk in single file. A revolutionary, an introvert and a maverick who felt halfway between a researcher and a student. Jean-Luc Godard, who passed away last September at the age of 91, has been one of the essential names in the history of cinema and also one of the most prolific, but the man who lives behind the iconic surname has always remained hidden. and inaccessible.

The documentary Godard Cinemapresented in the last edition of the Venice Festivalia and which is now launching on the Filmin platform, reviews the director’s creative stages and at the same time explores the personality and intimacy of a man who merged with his work and who showed in art the same contradictions with which he spent his life.

Cyril Leuthy is the director of this documentary, in which he uses different testimonies as if they were a puzzle to evoke the complex image of Godard. Biographers, historians, critics and some of the artists who worked with him are the voices with which the viewer composes this portrait. Some of the contributing names are those of Julie Delpy, Thierry Jousse, Macha Meril, Alain Bergala, Nathalie BaeHanna Schygulla, Marina Vlady and Romain Goupil, as well as archive footage and interviews.

It is impossible to find a single photo of his childhood and even he himself spoke very little about his childhood.

One of the first details that this documentary brings out has to do with one of the most unknown stages of the artist: his childhood. It is impossible to find a single photo of his childhood, as revealed by one of the participating journalists, and even he himself spoke very little about his early years, although he well remembered the day they told him that when he grew up he would be a lawyer. . The decision, then, becoming a filmmaker made him an outcast in his own family and they didn’t even allow him to go to his mother’s funeral. The director fled from Switzerland to Paris to make his wishes come true. Among others, claiming that cinema was an art in its own right.

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Without going into the reasons, this documentary also reveals that Godard was a “kleptomaniac” and that when he was young he stole from his friends and family. In the film the quadrilleby Jacques Rivette, in addition to playing one of the roles, also he helped finance the project with money he had stolen from his uncle. Likewise, he also stole from the box of Cahiers du Cinemawhere he worked as a critic and from where he tried to impose his artistic idea: create from chaos, destroy to build.

Godard and the women

As this documentary points out, Godard did not look at women like other filmmakers, but rather kept a certain distance. One can also get to know this director in this documentary through the women who accompanied him, especially three of them. Anna Karina, to whom he was married between 1961 and 1967, was his love and his muse in the first film stage, and starred in some of his most memorable films, such as Live your life (1962), band apart (1964) or crazy pierrot (1965). As she indicated in an interview, when she met that man she saw someone “introverted and shy.” She became the “sweetheart of the nouvelle vague”, just as she appeared on the cover of some magazine.

Later, a very young Anne Wiazemsky contacted him through a letter and that epistolary love brought with it several films and a marriage between 1967 and 1979, until the moment when politics captured all the attention of the filmmaker. later he is Anne-Marie Mieville who caught Godard’s attention and, far from becoming a muse, was a co-worker, photographer, screenwriter, editor, co-director, who came to assume artistic direction in some of his films.

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Godard: contradictions and paradoxes

“By my education and training, I have a taste for paradox and a spirit of contradiction,” Godard said. After some of the criticism he received At the end of the escapadethe director decided to start a more political project, the little soldier (1963), for those who “don’t have time to stay in bed,” as he noted. In that provocative film she addressed the Algerian war and, after several less compromising films, she premiered la chinoise (1967), in which he reflects on the “Robinsons of Marxism-Leninism”.

A year later, he participated in the riots of May 1968 and paralyzed the screenings of the Cannes Film Festival together with colleagues like Truffaut, a well-known story that caused the cancellation of the screening of Peppermint frappé, by the Spanish Carlos Saura. After that political episode, Godard had to record with the Rolling Stones, a contract that he had “forgotten” and for which he felt “destroyed”, as he confessed.

How can Godard, endowed with an incredible sensitivity about the social phenomenon, get involved in this dogmatism?”daniel cohnt

The former member of the European Parliament Daniel Cohnt wonders here also about Godard’s dogmatism, something “inexplicable” as before a position against capitalism and authoritarianism choose the cultural revolution as an alternative. “How can Godard, endowed with an incredible sensitivity about the social phenomenon, get involved in this dogmatism?”

The Franco-Swiss director criticized the fact that film aesthetics had converted to capitalism and that it was eminently North American, while speaking of the contradictory problem that Western filmmakers had in his opinion: “We want to make revolutionary films but we are not in a revolutionary situation , even outside of the cinema. Also, as a filmmaker, I am forced to work all day with people who hate me and who I hate.” Cohnt notes that he suffered from “being provocative.”

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The author was gradually diluted in the collective, with Dziga-Vertov, and one could say that the director who in 1983, at the age of 53, won a Golden Bear in Venice, was the victim of his own contradictions, although if one resorts to his own statements, it could also be said that his entire life and his work was continuous learning and discovery. “I would rather say that I am a scientist”, said Godard on one occasion, who was always moved by his eagerness to investigate. As Julie Delpy points out in this documentary, Godard always puts himself in the position of the researcher and the student at the same time, which is why he “loved those who weren’t quite actors, or quite filmmakers.”