Immortality, Jean-Luc Godard reached it yesterday. To the example of William Faulkner who had decided on his epitaph «He made books and he died», the writer character of his most famous film, To breath, summed up his destiny: “Become immortal… and then die”. Like a premonition, the certainty of leaving behind fifty years of paradox, a total work, and a memorable revolution, long-reaching, an earthquake in the history of the 7th art. Fifty years of questioning the language of cinema, formal inventions, experiments, mystery, loneliness, and self-parody. He saw just and in advance, at times always too old for him, and he never ceased to scandalize, shock, but release.

He freed films from the constraints of a pre-written history, from agreed and overly well-crafted scenarios, from the shackles that prevented spontaneity and movement. With him, cinema has become what it is, a present that passes, like life, like a new wave, that sweeps without any other purpose than to sweep. With Breathless, Contempt and Pierrot le Fou, where he made a clean break, he breathed a freedom of modern and original narration, invented a cinema of saying rather than of saying, a cinema that digs the screen of its outbursts and its glaring questions with impossible answers therefore invisible: What is it to be in the world in the post-war news (Out of breath, Gang Apart, Alphaville) ? What is commitment? (The Little Soldier, The Chinese), the end of a love (The Contempt)? What is image in civilization (History(s) of cinema, The picture book)? How to live in a world saturated with icons, or in opacity to oneself? And above all, how can we be free other than by affirming, than by provoking his critical freedom, his freedom to write?

And to impose this cinema that reflects and reflects, all means are good, especially that of provocation practiced as a sport, tennis or football that he adored, as a hygiene of art. Able to break taboos, to get excited for cursed ones, to end an interview, to be lapidary or aggressive, Godard interpreted the most squeaky scores and projected a multiplicity of faces, images of himself, all equally false, all equally true: the rebellious filmmaker like the hermetic video artist, the polemicist like the hermit, the impostor like the genius, the bourgeois like the Maoist, the misanthrope like the melancholic. Because it is necessary to exaggerate, when one claims to mime life, to paint in blue, to draw the primary colors and gestures to their maximum, to push the cursors, to amplify the volume of the senses.

At home, the extremes join to clash: he can be charming one day and obnoxious the next, rubbing Jean-Claude Brialy on the set ofA woman is a woman, to the point of forcing Belmondo to intervene and say, “That’s okay, we’re not furniture!”  ; he can act like an infernal misogynist or a sad and transient lover, turned away and left, as he can seem modest and brilliant when he answers “you talk to me, I’m not interested” to a journalist.

The maverick of the cinema will have discovered the talent of Jean Seberg, Brigitte Bardot, Anna Karina, Michel Piccoli and of course Jean-Paul Belmondo, with his modern, bumpy face, his athletic body, his irresistible charm and this infantile pleasure to play, to go crazy, to follow the director anywhere, as long as there is a path, a thousand paths, and as many holes to fall into. The slander and the judgment, the mockery of the situationists, the attacks of the well-thinkers, Godard ignored them, he who had been a passionate and precocious critic, in the Gazette du Cinéma where he had signed his first text on the film of Joseph Leo Mankiewicz, The House of Strangers, then to the Cahiers du Cinéma, where he was a cultured intellectual imbibed with authors such as Aragon, Stendhal, Balzac, whose walls he sometimes made of his arguments.

Like a Victor Hugo of cinema, he was gratified in his lifetime by a record number of awards: a Golden Lion for his career in 1982, two César d'honneur and exceptional for his entire career in 1987 and 1998, Palme d'or special for The Picture Book and his entire work in 2018, and Oscar d'honneur in 2010.

Until his last films Film Socialism, The Picture Book or Goodbye to language, Jean-Luc Godard braved the new and made the choice of tortuous and steep routes. At the age of 91, after seeing and thinking about limits, he probably had nothing left to question but the rest of eternity.

I extend my deepest condolences to his wife, Anne-Marie Miéville, and to his loved ones.