godard is no more, long live godard

Dr. Khusi Pattanayak

Image source: Internet
as a creative artist jean-luc godard broke all forms of cinematic parentheses. he created mystifying frames that was hitherto unexplored and could only be appreciated through a non-conformist understanding of cinema that recalled new interpretation with each consecutive viewing. his works, like the smokes of his cigars, were free from the lexicons of conventional film making and stood out for its experiments and sophistication.

i had heard the name godard for the first time during my literature days as we were discussing camus, kafka, and other existential writers. i remember, our teacher casually mentioning how godard valued the idea of individual freedom and was influenced by the existentialists. i liked the way the name sounded – jean-luc godard, ‘d’ silent. i requested the teacher for the spelling of the name. he promptly complied.

eventually i got more information about the auteur, from various sources; learnt about his affluent upbringing, his acquaintance with film clubs, his foray into film criticism, engagement with twentieth century fox (the production house), gradual shift to direction and realisation of every man for himself.

few years later, while studying cinema, i watched godard’s debut breathless (1960) that brought him a distinctive recognition; that made him the face of new wave cinema. explaining godard’s creative genius the teacher had shared an anecdote - godard’s signature jump-cuts were not creative inclusions, rather they were business decisions. he used them to reduce the movie length which in turn gave the movies an unsettling feel. needless to say, the end results were just great winning him international recognition for his unconventional editing and camera work. 

credited with more than 100 movies as director-writer-producer, godard’s association with political affairs of his time was far from being symbolic. many of his movies have direct reference to vietnam war (1955 -1975), algerian war (1954 -1962), civil unrest of may 68 (france), workers struggle, consumerism, holocaust, israel -palestine issue, imperialism and colonialism. this hardly comes as a surprise. as someone who was highly influenced by marxist ideology his movies are activism, reiterating that there is nothing called non-political, every action is political in its own right. godard, the rebel as he was, had refused the honorary oscars; and yes, like his movies this non-acceptance too brought numerous speculations, assumptions, theories, accolades, criticism and kept the erudite world busy over godard’s stance.

godard’s assisted suicide at 91 (1930-2022) is the leitmotif that he used in his movies- the social impact of human existence and individual’s free will. he was anti anything that celebrated hollowed power centre and indulged in telling the stories of the margins. he was a feminist who raised ethical questions and spoke about poverty of peace through his feature films and short video films. 

one can never say good bye to an artist and there will be no goodbye to godard either, for he will forever remain with us as the fearless filmmaker who knew the art of making universal cinema on a mickey mouse budget.

8th October 2022

DR.KHUSI PATTANAYAK was expecting a letter from Hogwarts but never received one. So, she decided to be the women of letters and earned a PhD in English literature.  She has 13+ years of professional experience & has swashbuckled both academia and industry. A corporate communication expert and cine-scholar she is an internationally published writer- translator-editor-photographer. Books authored by her are taught in various Indian universities and she was featured in the pages of TEDx Thought Break. A polyglot, she is the charter member and editor of The Pine Cone Review and loves to read Márquez, Kafka, Neruda, Seth, Christie in no specific order. She is the Patronus Charm herself. 

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