Which director makes the best films

The master of the Nouvelle-Vague turns 90 : The ten best films by Jean-Luc Godard

This Thursday, Jean-Luc Godard will be 90. The Franco-Swiss was one of the founders of the magazine “Cahiers du cinéma” in 1951, from which the directors of the Nouvelle Vague emerged. Godard wanted to make cinema political without making political films straight away. His penchant for beautiful young women is notorious.

He has now been with the Swiss filmmaker Anne-Marie Miéville for 50 years, and together they live in seclusion on Lake Geneva. How do you explain a director who has worked as consistently as Jean-Luc Godard at the interface between star cinema and cinematic experiment? We'll try his ten most important films.

Out of breath (1960)

The first scene does not show Jean-Paul Belmondo. But an issue of the magazine “Paris-Flirt”: the men's magazine with the drawing of a scantily clad young woman on the cover initially conceals Belmondo's face. Later you will see him and Jean Seberg with seven different editions of the “France-Soir”; Belmondo will take a quick look at “Le Figaro” before cleaning his shoes with it and throwing away the conservative newspaper.

Seberg sells the "New Herald Tribune" on the Champs-Élysées; The “Life” magazine, the “Cahiers du cinéma”, the “France-Soir”, the “Weltwoche” and the “Gazetta della Sport” also play a role.

It can be assumed that Godard would tell the story differently today. Belmondo's Michel would be a heavy cell phone user and would check his push messages every two minutes. Breathless. Fortunately, there are no cell phones yet, Godard uses the feel of print media. He used newspapers and books to protect his protagonists: as symbols of a connection, as a sign of intimacy and love. Belmondo wouldn't be half as charming with a smartphone. Jenni Zylka

A woman is a woman (1961)

This is what happens when a French intellectual takes on an originally American genre: not a musical film comedy, but the “idea of ​​a musical” (Godard). For the first time cinemascope, color and direct sound - with these new means, Godard deconstructs the classic Hollywood musicals that revel in color, melodies and stereotypes. But not without paying homage to the stars Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse.

The music, which jumps wildly between jazz, chansons and romantic symphonies, comes from Michel Legrand, who three years later succeeds in creating a gorgeous composition with the melancholy singspiel “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”. In the comic-absurd-sexist triangle story about a burlesque dancer who desperately wants a child, the cut of the music is rough and its use is subversive.

Because of feeling enhancers. At Godard it is a disruptive factor, never background music, always an independent force, alienation effects included. When Anna Karina starts a chanson and strips to it, the piano music comes off the tape. The pianist on stage doesn't lift a finger. If she sings, the instrument is silent. If she is silent, the piano functions as a recitative. Godard beats the artificiality of the classics with his own mannerisms. Gunda Bartels

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