Jean Luc Godard: Revered filmmaker and pro-Palestine advocate dies aged 91

Jean Luc Godard: Revered filmmaker and pro-Palestine advocate dies aged 91
Jean Luc Godard passed away by assisted suicide aged 91 this week. He was remembered for his rule-breaking movies and uncompromising political activism.
2 min read
14 September, 2022
Jean Luc Godard was seen as the godfather of French New Wave cinema [source: Getty]

Revered filmmaker and vocal supporter of Palestinian rights Jean Luc Godard died on Tuesday aged 91 by assisted suicide. 

The French-Swiss director was renowned for his innovative rule-breaking movies which spearheaded the revolutionary French New Wave cinema in the 1960s.  

Godard was an outspoken activist for Palestine’s liberation, co-directing a film in 1976 about Palestinian resistance titled "Here and Elsewhere". 

He also endorsed the boycott of Israel, adding his name to a petition alongside other predominant filmmakers which slammed an event celebrating Israeli cinema by the Institut Francais. 

Following his death, French President Emmanuel Macron said Godard "had a vision of a genius". 

"Jean-Luc Godard, the most iconoclastic of New Wave filmmakers, invented a resolutely modern, intensely free art. We have lost a national treasure, a man who had the vision of a genius," Macron added.

"Breathless" - Godard’s breakthrough film in 1960 - was heralded as an ode to American cinema, telling the story of a gangster and his girlfriend through improvised shots on the streets of Paris. 

Throughout his career, Godard adopted an explicitly political angle in many of his films.

In 1963, he wrote and directed "Le Petit Soldat" (The Little Solider) set during France’s colonial war in Algeria. In 1967, he directed "La Chinoise" about a group of young Maoists in Paris. 

By 1970, he started a film about Palestine’s struggle for independence, reportedly funded by the Arab League. However, it was never completed. 

When Godard was getting ready to finish the film, deadly fighting broke out between the Jordanian Armed Forces and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. 

Later in 1976, remnants of Godard’s 1970 footage would be used in "Here and Elsewhere" - a film which examines the life of two families, one French and one Palestinian. 

Godard also expressed sympathy for the Jewish people and their plight under the Nazis, engaging in rigorous debates over the use of Holocaust archival footage to authentically tell the story of European Jews. 

A family representative said Godard died by assisted suicide in Switzerland this week. A legal adviser to the filmmaker told AFP he was "stricken with multiple invalidating illnesses".