Jean-Luc Godard, bold director and father of the French Nouvelle Vague, dies at 91

The provocateur and Franco-Swiss filmmaker fundamentally rethought cinema and had a lasting impression on the industry.

Awarded with the Golden Lion in 1984 and the Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2011, his work has been a source of inspiration for many contemporary filmmakers around the world.

Jean-Luc Godard, the experimental director and father of the Nouvelle Vague, has died. He was 91. Throughout his career, Godard has been always critical about traditional film language and created a unique style of filmmaking that revolutionized cinema in the late 1950s and 60s.

Awarded with the Golden Lion in 1984 and the Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2011, his work has been a source of inspiration for many contemporary filmmakers around the world.

Godard career was marked by great prolificacy and linguistic innovations. Best known for his iconoclastic, seemingly improvised filming style, Godard made his mark with a series of politicized films in the 1960s, among the others, “La Chinoise”, before enjoying an unlikely career revival in recent years, with films such as “Film Socialisme“ and “Goodbye to Language” as he experimented with digital technology.

Jean-Luc Godard “Le Studio d’Orphée”, Fondazione Prada, Milano. Photo by: Agostino Osio, Alto Piano. Courtesy Fondazione Prada.

After examining the possibility of enacting a revolutionary cinema in 1968 with the movie “The Gay Science”, Godard founded the Dziga Vertov Group in 1969 with other filmmakers, experimenting with a collective cinema and rejecting the role of author in the belief that it implies an authoritarian and hierarchical ideology. In the same year he directed “Lotte in Italia”, a film for Italian television that questions the relationship between film, representation and ideology through the story of a bourgeois girl who militates in an extra-parliamentary group while remaining tied to the ideology of her class of origin.

His atelier, called “Le Studio d’Orphée”, is a recording and editing studio, a living and working place that has been relocated exclusively in Milan at Fondazione Prada. The director decided to transfer the technical material, used in his latest films’ shooting from 2010, as well as furniture, books, paintings and other personal items from his studio-house in Rolle in Switzerland. The title expressly mentions the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, establishing a parallel between the director and the Greek poet-musician.

Jessica Capretti is a frequent contributor to Milano Art Guide since 2021. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Milan and has worked on several projects including “L’Arc de Triomphe Wrapped” by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, in Paris. She lives and works in Milan.