Jean-Luc Godard Eyes Retirement After Nearly 7 Decades: ‘I’m Finishing My Movie Life’

The French New Wave icon has two more projects to finish before he says "goodbye, cinema."
Jean Luc Godard a 7/7 en 1983 PARIS . 1983 (Sipa via AP Images)
Jean Luc Godard in 1983.

The end of the filmmaking road is drawing near for Jean-Luc Godard, the French New Wave icon behind “Breathless,” “Contempt,” “Pierrot le Fou,” “Masculin Féminin,” and more. During a recent 85-minute conversation with the virtual International Film Festival of Kerala (via The Film Stage), Godard confirms his plan to retire from directing after his next two projects. The filmmaker currently has two scripts in various stages of development, one he announced is being made with European public service channel Arte and the other which is titled “Funny Wars.”

“I’m finishing my movie life—yes, my moviemaker’s life—by doing two scripts,” the 90-year-old Godard added about his plan to retire in the near future. “After, I will say, ‘Goodbye, cinema.’”

Godard will forever be associated with the French New Wave, a movement he pioneered with 1960 directorial debut “Breathless.” At that point in his career, Godard had been making short documentaries and short fiction films for half a decade, beginning with 1955’s “Operation Concrete” and running through the likes of 1958’s “Charlotte and Her Boyfriend” and 1959’s “Charlotte and Véronique, or: All Boys Are Called Patrick.” Godard has remained a working filmmaker for 66 years, most recently debuting “The Image Book” at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. The jury awarded the project the first Special Palme d’Or in Cannes history. Godard’s previous work, the 3D essay “Goodbye to Language,” won the Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and was named Best Picture at the 2014 National Society of Film Critics Awards.

Among Godard’s other prizes are an Honorary Academy Award (bestowed to the director in 2011), an Honorary César Award, a Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for “Alphaville,” and a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for “First Name: Carmen.”

Last summer during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Godard appeared in a memorable virtual masterclass with Lionel Baier, the head of the cinema department at Lausanne’s ECAL University of Art and Design. The director teased new projects in the work at the time, and he said the pandemic would have an indirect influence on his new work.

“It’ll have an influence but not directly,” Godard said. “The virus should definitely be talked about once or twice. With everything that comes with it, the virus is a form of communication. It doesn’t mean we’re going to die from it, but we might not live very well with it either.”

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