“Godard, it’s not a style, it’s a way of thinking”

Une day, near the Center Pompidou, it must have been in the 1990s, I passed with Jean-Luc Godard in front of a discount DVD store. They were listed on a display by the names of filmmakers, and I was very surprised to see him stop in front of the Godard box, where there were three of his films. He told me : Out of breath, Contempt, Crazy Pierrot, this is what will remain of me. » In a tone of resigned spite.

By reading, listening and watching what was said about him after his death, I tell myself that he was right. We talked a lot about him as a ” big “, ” very large “ or even ” immense “ filmmaker. And, in the list of his great films, it was these three that kept coming back. Godard will therefore have been, for the media and no doubt in public opinion, a great filmmaker who made three or four great films. In short, a filmmaker like him dies one every six months, each time giving rise to the same lazy words which come back to the same and whose meaning has been completely blunted. The worst of its kind being: “A cinema giant has just left us. » Too many giants kill gigantism.

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Godard was not just a filmmaker who made great films. It cannot be reduced to this trivialized category. Moreover, all his life, commentators have regretted, with respect or annoyance, that he did not decide to finally one day make a “real” film. In an interview with Inrocksin May 2010, he explained calmly, without the slightest provocation, what was beyond his strength in this idea of ​​making a “real” film. At the beginning of socialism movie, he said, he had first had the idea of ​​filming a family in a garage, the Martin family. This will be the subject of one of the three parts of the film. But he found the idea too short to make a feature film. ” Because if not, he said, people would have become characters and what happens there would have become a story. The story of a mother and her children, a film like you can make in France, with dialogues, moods. »

small ambition

Everything is said about the expectations, for the public and the critics, of what a “real” film should be. Breathless, Contempt, Pierrot le fou can give the illusion, fifty years later, of answering it, even if this was far from being the case at the time of their release, in the 1960s, when, already, certain critics found that it was not not really movies. I have always thought that Godard’s resistance to all these components of the social demand for “real” films was literally ontological. Godard did not choose to make a different cinema. He couldn’t do otherwise. It was the very nature of his relationship to creation in the cinema that was of another order. In his eyes, making good film objects was a small ambition, within the reach of any talented director.

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