French Celebrity: Jean-luc Godard Et Mai 1968

Jean-Luc Godard, born 3rd December 1930, is a Franco-Swiss filmmaker and a leading member of the French New Wave movement. Known for his stylistic innovations that challenged the conventions of Hollywood cinema, he is universally recognised as the most radical, as well as the most influential, of the Nouvelle Vague filmmakers. His work reflects a sound knowledge of film history, a comprehensive understanding of existential philosophy and a profound insight into the fragility of human and political relationships.

For Godard, who was always the most political of the French New Wave filmmakers, the turn for the radical came with May 1968. When asked, “At what exact point in time did the break from bourgeois to revolutionary filmmaking occur?” Godard replied, “During the May-June events in France in 1968.” Peter Lennon’s documentary Rocky Road to Dublin was to be the final film screened at the festival on 17th May as immediately after its screening Jean-Luc Godard and Claude Lelouche climbed on stage and announced that, in solidarity with the workers and the students who were protesting across France, the festival was to end.

Following the political and social turbulence of 1968, a year when Paris was rocked by civil unrest, strikes and student protests, Godard brought his political beliefs at the centre of his work. Like many French intellectuals of the day, he was influenced by Maoism during this era. He and the journalist Jean-Pierre Gorin founded the Dziga Vertov group, a community of politically oriented filmmakers. They were active in the 1970s, but their work was rarely seen outside activist circles.

Many of Godard’s films of the 1970s and 1980s were deemed too ideological or too incomprehensible for audiences to embrace. However, he made a brief commercial comeback in the 1980s with a trilogy of films about feminine sexuality: Passion, Prénom: Carmen and the controversial Je vous salue, Marie. In 1988 he worked on Histoire(s) du Cinéma, a ten-part documentary of French cinema. In 2010 Godard received an honorary Academy award, the Governors Award, by the Hollywood establishment in recognition of his many contributions to the world of cinema.

“Je vous parle solidarité avec les étudiants et les ouvriers, et vous me parlez travelling et gros plans !”