I wasn’t ready for Jean-Luc Godard. I doubt everyone did. And now that he’s gone, I find it impossible to articulate the immense impact he had on cinema. So even after his work fell out of favor and was reflexively dismissed by the lazy, even as he himself declined (he died of an assisted suicide on Tuesday at the age of 91), the pesky giant’s It left traces. A cool guy with black sunglasses and a cigar remained. He was a movie phantom long before his death.
When it comes to an artist I admire, I often have an epiphany the moment I meet him for the first time, and it tends to be associated with my first love. I was in college when I saw my first Godard film, Every Man for Himself (1980). I can’t remember what I was thinking at the time. I can only remember the feeling of rewinding from Bleecker Street Cinema and idly walking home through the fog. I thought I would understand the movie, but I didn’t. Also, what I didn’t understand was that I was making and watching movies in a different way.
Early on, Hollywood made movies easy for us. He taught me how to make sense of time and space, turning sights and sounds into stories. It invited us in with a smile, enjoyed the show, and then told us to come back the following week. He insisted that we come to him, navigate the density of his thoughts, decipher his epigrams, and learn a new language, his language. Too bad we couldn’t, or if we couldn’t — for us.We were the impoverished ones because we didn’t look That movie can be more than laughter and tears, money and awards.
That movie could also be more than a non-corporate-branded money-making machine, which sounds odd in the Marvel era — terribly old-fashioned and naïve. It’s impressive that when a new film that truly excites people arrives, there may be some chatter about its presentation and whether it conforms to established ideas about correct politics and entertainment. It’s profitable. Commercializing movies is another way Hollywood has made it easier for us.
As Godard has shown over the decades, it could be much more. Cinema is art, can be art, and, as he argues, it is political. That was evident from the beginning of his film career, first as a critic and then as an artist. But there was so much joy and youthful romanticism in his early work that it was easier to feel that joy than to fight its complexity. I fell in love not because he described his characters as “the children of Marx and Coca-Cola.” It was beautiful and my heart trembled.
In time, I learned how to see Godard, but I think he actually taught me how to see. Because by the time he started delving into Godard’s work, he already knew that the film didn’t always have to be obvious. Sometimes it was necessary to puzzle them. Sometimes you have to get lost. To get lost in a movie, to immerse yourself in the sometimes exciting, inexplicably unfamiliar, to let images and sounds permeate you as your mind tries to make sense of what is going on. is an immeasurable pleasure.
And from his first function,I can not breathe(1960), Godard tells us that by pushing cinema beyond its industrial parameters, expanding narrative, exploring realism, and navigating the space between classicism and modernism, I invited them to open their hearts and minds. He inserted copious amounts of text into his work, added vocal babbles, stopped and started flows, flooded soundtracks with music, and flooded screens with color. Pushing and pulling, he challenged and sometimes attacked the viewer. Trying to explain his latest offer, much less writing a concise summary of it, has become more difficult. increase.
He certainly returned animosity in both interviews and in his films. , has become private and cryptic. He became an outcast with the Gnostic voice of cinema, at least in mainstream circles. He repeatedly insulted the United States, repeatedly referred to the Holocaust, repeatedly denounced Israel and its treatment of the Palestinian people, and at times was offensive, reaching, by some observers, outright anti-Semitism. What he was doing often was clumsy and clumsy at times, but I think he was wrestling with history, memory, and civilization.
One of the things that strikes me the most about Godard is that as the film changed, so did he. He worked in television before full-fledged filmmakers were allowed to do so, and when movies went digital he found a new and striking beauty in it. I was making it pop, using my new media toolkit to play with the dizzying ingenuity of someone just discovering their talents. In the 2014 movie Goodbye to Language, he dabbled in his 3D and showed me images I hadn’t seen or seen since. Seeing it at Cannes, where the audience cheered and nearly floated out of their seats, was one of the great experiences of my film life.
Godard was shamefully marginalized and relegated to the festival circuit, with very few theatrical releases. And in contrast to his longtime compatriot Agnès Varda, who became more famous as he got older, he stayed away from the public eye. , has a role in Varda’s 2017 essay film Faces Places. This is a meander of history and memory she created with artist JR. At the end of the film, Varda and JR show up at Godard’s house in Rolle, Switzerland. She cried because she refused to even admit to
I always thought that the real reason Godard didn’t come to greet Varda was because he didn’t like or respect JR. It is not on the same level as the works. Still, Grandpa may have come out to greet her friends.he could have whispered something simple Bonjour Through his characteristic gravel door. But Godard was clearly not interested, and Varda charmed fans who often mistook her for a cute old lady.Unlike Varda, he didn’t play the game.
he didn’t have to. Varda is a woman in a man’s world, and she has learned how to work, the habits, and the burden of the room. Godard didn’t need her. He himself, almost like Lear, was “a poor, frail, weak, despised old man.” Godard played with the moody, grumpy, cigar-chomping guru image of the film’s past, but in reality, he remained a prophet of an as-yet-unrealized future. Despite his reputation and all the scandals, the cynical apersus and the stinging air of pessimism, he was a surprisingly optimist.
A few years ago, a friend sent me Google Maps coordinates. godard walking along several roll streets with his third wife and frequent collaborator Anne-Marie Miéville. I excitedly clicked the link and his face was blurry and clearly recognizable in the bright sun-filled image. He was dressed in black and had a brightly colored plastic bag. One time they showed up next to a red car and I flashed all the cars and colors in his movies. I think he and Miéville had just gone shopping. I hoped they were happy. In a way I have found Godard, but really my quest never ends.