Happy Birthday, Jean-Luc Godard!

Today is Jean-Luc Godard’s 80th birthday. As a huge fan of French films, I feel a tiny bit obligated to celebrate. As such, here are my five favorite Godard films, in order. Bear in mind that I’ve only seen ten of his movies, so it’s not as if this is a completist’s list. I’d gladly welcome comments and/or recommendations for further Godard viewing.

Contempt
This was my introduction to Godard, and still stands as my favorite. The uses of blue and red, coupled with Jack Palance’s performance as the brash American, Fritz Lang as the director, the meta nature of the whole film (a film about making a film), the descent on the stairs towards the end and of course the actual ending, the stunning Brigitte Bardot, the incredible tracking shot to open the film… It’s a masterpiece. Here’s some footage early in the film with Palance being Palance, minus the one-armed pushups.

A Woman is a Woman
Again, Godard’s use of color here is fantastic. And there’s one particular scene in the middle of the film that’s incredibly and uncomfortably long, a prime example of the types of New Wave techniques employed to shake up the filmmaking establishment.

Weekend
Yet again, Godard goes nuts with the tracking shots. This scene is one of cinema’s most iconic, and (frankly) it’s not even my favorite in the film. That speaks more to the quality of the film than it does this particular scene.

Breathless
When someone asks me about the French New Wave, this is invariably the first movie I recommend. It’s such a perfect introduction to the movement.

Les Carabiniers
I bet you thought I was going to say Masculin, Feminin, didn’t you? Or perhaps Pierrot le Fou? What I liked so much about Les Carabiniers is how it turned the war film genre completely on its ear. It was a war film that was anti-war, made in an era full of sweeping war epics. The deft use of actual letters-to-home from soldiers (Ken Burns style) juxtaposed with a ton of absurdity put a grin on my face. A clip:

If you enjoyed this entry from The Droid You’re Looking For, you may also enjoy:
A List Par Excellence: The Top 50 French Films of All-Time
Nazis Took My Country and All I Got Was This Stupid Blog Entry
If WTF was a Film Category


6 Comments

Filed under Foreign Film, French Film, Movies

6 responses to “Happy Birthday, Jean-Luc Godard!

  1. Jim

    Aww crap. I thought this was a Star Trek post!

  2. Pffft. How could it be his birthday? He hasn’t even been born yet.

    http://www.chacha.com/question/when-is-captain-jean-luc-picard's-birthday

    (took me a second to get the Star Trek reference)

  3. Luke

    I hope the blogger reads this. I read a lot of blogs and I’m bookmarking it. I liked what you did here. 90% of blogs are garbage.

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