“Godard is Swiss, not French, so he is not the greatest French filmmaker.”
Wrong. He was born in Paris to Franco-Swiss parents (both of his grandfathers were French, both grandmothers were Swiss) in 1930 and only later became a naturalized Swiss citizen during the war. If I remember correctly, his mother was a Monod.
Not wrong. He speaks French with a Swiss accent which is generally what matters. And I think I can recall from interviews he mainly identifies himself as Swiss these days (moreso than French). Hell, even the books admit as much. He might be a hyphenate but you know he’s more in the tradition of fellow citizen Rousseau.
I like that one comment will get people on here to argue Godard’s heritage, but no one goes after my comment on Marker who’s past is a tad bit fuzzier (doesn’t he himself claim to be Mongolian)…
^Yep! Troll successful!
C’mon . . . he’s of half-French ancestry, he was born in France, holds French (in addition to Swiss) citizenship, he was educated in France, and makes films in France. And you’re argument is that he’s not a French filmmaker because he speaks French with a Swiss accent?
Lino Ventura spoke Italian with a French accent, apparently.
I think Ari’s saying Godard identifies himself as Swiss. He makes film in France because there’s money in France, but he’s spent a large majority of his life in Switzerland.
We’re taking a couple jokes a little too seriously, though.
Let’s just say Godard has a bad-ass lisp and settle it at that.
Well, I was being mildly facetious (the idea that he can’t be the greatest french filmmaker because he’s technically not French). But accent is extremely important in the French world and it does identify you (the slower Swiss accent is a point of jokes for French). Also, he grew up almost entirely in Switzerland and did not move to France until he was in university so I would say his formative years were Swiss (in the same way that I consider my own formative years were U.S. because I was educated there even though I wasn’t born there and no longer live there). Besides being born in France is not a huge indicator of anything. I was born there and all I got was a T-shirt.
Uh, he maintains a home in Switzerland, but he has said he doesn’t like the country by which he probably means its politics.
“I was born there and all I got was a T-shirt.”
^ Yeah, he does have a contrarian streak in him. I was just actually looking for an interview he gave where I remember he talks about being Swiss and the only thing I found was one where he says that he thinks Switzerland should be dissolved and that Swiss Romands should just go join France. I bet I could find another interview where he contradicts that position.
“I like that one comment will get people on here to argue Godard’s heritage”
Well, it’s not like we haven’t thoroughly exhausted Godard from every other angle, so . . . and it’s not like I’m actually going to get upset with someone who objects to labeling a maker of French films as a French filmmaker.
“Also, he grew up almost entirely in Switzerland and did not move to France until he was in university”
Um . . . no. He was in school in Paris until 1940 and left because because of the Nazi occupation, then he was in school in Brittany, and then in Nyon, where he stayed until until the end of the war. By the late ‘40s he was back in Paris at the Lycee Buffon, living with his mother’s family. So does that make him Swiss, or does that just make him someone who didn’t want to (or whose family didn’t want him to stay) in Nazi-occupied Paris?
“I think Ari’s saying Godard identifies himself as Swiss.”
Right, I understand, but that’s a fairly recent development, really only since he returned to Switzerland full time in the early ‘80s and became more or less a recluse. I don’t see how that’s a good argument that his ‘60s films aren’t French.
Lino Ventura did not read books, he just stared them down until he got the information he needed.
“Um . . . no. He was in school in Paris until 1940 and left because because of the Nazi occupation, then he was in school in Brittany, and then in Nyon, where he stayed until until the end of the war. "
Now we’re really almost comically splitting hairs but my Godard bio says the father moved the family in 1934 when he was four years old. Or the Winston Dixon book that says his father moved the family to Switzerland “almost immediately after Jean-Luc’s birth.” But, anyway, no matter how you look at it, almost all accounts of his life says that he grew up mainly in Nyon, Switzerland. But, yeah, much of Godard’s early life is shrouded in mystery like in the early 1950s where he seemed to bounce around and somehow avoided military service in both France and Switzerland. Anyway, that national fuzziness is all pretty typical of elites in Europe.
““I was born there and all I got was a T-shirt.””
I wish I got that New York Herald Tribune T-shirt.
Yeah he says lots of snarky thing about the Swiss.
I rate Robert Bresson above Jean-Luc Godard, so I don’t even think he’s the greatest French director ever.
Right, obviously there’s no right answer, and Godard certainly isn’t interested in providing a definitive version of himself. A lot of sources simply report the easily verifiables—where the parents were living—when it seems from some of what I’ve read that—other than during the war—he was largely in school in Paris, probably living with relatives other than Mom and Dad.
. . . so that’s about as much mileage as we can get out of that. Somebody’s probably started another Godard thread by now anyway.
Next Godard thread:
Godard is the greatest bald filmmaker ever.
Godard is a better sexist than De Palma.
Godard wears glasses for the clout. Not because he thinks he needs it. But because he knows he gets it.
Did you hear about that screenwriter who used to work with Abel Ferrara? It seems he quit the film business because he fond Godard or something like that.
No one knows where Chris Marker is from. He’s probably an extraterrestrial for all we know.
I used to have a friend who hated Godard, considered all his films pretentious, and tried to convert me from Godard to Kubrick. I love them both, so the friendship turned into a pissing contest which ended in a massive argument that made us nemeses.
Godard made a rather bold pun about the Swiss flag : “le drapeau suisse, ça veut dire je fais une croix sur le sang des autres”. Difficult to translate, because “faire une croix sur” (literally : to draw a cross) means “definitely forget about something”. Perhaps something along the lines of : kissing the blood of the others goodbye.
Not that he liked the French flag much either :
How many more positions are there?
1. Godard is the greatest filmmaker ever
2. Godard is the most overrated/worst filmmaker ever
3. Godard was good in the 1960s but lost me when he became political and esoteric
4. Godard was overrated in the 1960s but makes great movies now
5. Godard used to do it for me but I’m, like, so over him.
6. Every period of Godard has its idiosyncrasies that make them great, leading to one of, but not the, greatest filmmakers ever.
At least, that’s my perspective.
Kent Jones :
“Deleuze once wrote . . . that Godard “invented a new way of thinking,” or something to that effect. I think this is correct. What exactly comprises that new way of thinking? From my perspective, it’s a hybrid, in which paradox, association and juxtaposition (visual, verbal and aural) join forces to create a potentially endless relay. . . . Godard makes narratives which are sliced up, reconfigured, abandoned and finally exploded. What is left – intentionally, I think – is a ruin.
To be clear, I am not using the word “ruin” pejoratively but descriptively. When one thinks of a film by Resnais or Kubrick, for instance, one imagines a solid construction. But from an architectural standpoint, Godard’s films are phantom structures with missing doorways and unfinished walls, moss-covered stairways and half-assembled plumbing. To a great extent, this is deliberate, of course. In his later films, Godard takes strands of narrative and builds over and under them, extends or atomizes certain motifs to the point where they become unrecognizable as elements of one single narrative.
. . . In 1966, in a harsh assessment of the man (and a mischaracterization of the work), Guy Debord wrote that there was “an absence of any real critiques of Godard.” True in 1966, true today. We haven’t really figured out how to talk about Godard. He is engulfed by polemics, either celebrated or dismissed. The newer films are interpreted, decoded, in certain cases annotated, but not quite described."
If we deem Godard Swiss, we should have no trouble calling him the greatest Swiss filmmaker of all time, right?
You could argue he’s been the most influential in the last century, and he probably has, but no one has had the balls to make the movies he has, and risk their career like he has. That’s why, if for any reason, he’s the best.
Bresson, Resnais, Rohmer, Chabrol, Clouzot…
godard is only pretentious because we made him pretentious. if there weren’t a million people out there creating esoteric films and art then godard wouldn’t be considered so lame and overrated. think about it, he’s one of the first to accomplish his work in the WAY that he did. it’s only today with our perspective that we can deem him pretentious an what not, at least in my opinion.
Raymond Durgnat :
The Seven Ages of Jean-Luc Godard: His Crucifixion and Resurrection
Letís slice Godardís life so far into seven periods, or rather, an order of emergence of styles, for each prevails for a while without excluding the others.
1. 1950-1960: Godardís first decade:
apprentice writings and ëshort storyí films. Sketchy and bold.
2. 1960-1965: New Twists to Old Narratives: from ¿ bout de souffle to Pierrot le fou. The quest for a personal morality (more Malraux than Sartre). Exemplary text: Bogart.
As the quest fails, so.
3. 1963ó1967: Narrative collapses into episode-and-essay, a belles-lettrist lyricism of schizo-sensibility. Virginia Woolf for a tower-block, lumpen-bourgeois time. Sensitivity and parody. Exemplary text: none; philosophy, sociology, all are ënihilisedí.
4. 1967ó1969 (La ChinoiseóOne A.M.):
From Old Sensibility to New Texts. Can the New Manís Mind mirror Lenin-to-Lacan?
5. 1969ó1972: The Dziga-Vertov Group:
Film Form as Social Form. ìI Observe, therefore I Actî. Exemplary texts: Mao + Althusser.
6. 1974ó1979: Retreat to the Videobunker. A revolution in ever-diminishing circles.
7. 1979ó1985: Euroculture Rides Out. Godardís seventh era resembles his first, but that cult of clear action yields to oceanic feelings of Romantic art and myth. E.T.s:
Beethoven, Bizet, the Bible.
After noting the dialectic of action and reflection, the latter being richest in the ëlushí style of the seventh age, we turn to longitudinal slicing by some major themes.