Legendary film director Jean-Luc Godard has died in Switzerland of assisted suicide.
The legendary Franco-Swiss filmmaker’s lawyer confirmed this morning that Godard chose to end his life at the age of 91 after a long battle with “multiple debilitating illnesses.”
Godard died at his home in the Swiss town of Rolle, on Lake Geneva, his family said in a statement, adding that he will be cremated and there will be no official ceremony.
Although euthanasia is illegal in Switzerland because a person other than the patient plays an active role in their death, doctors can prescribe a cocktail of drugs that, when taken or injected through an intravenous drip, allows a patient to take their own life .
The French daily Libération quoted a person close to the family as saying that ‘it was’ [Godard’s] decision and it was important to him that people knew about it.’
Godard was one of the world’s most acclaimed directors, known for the French New Wave films Breathless and Contempt, which inspired a generation of directors, including Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese.
His style of directing broke with convention and helped usher in a new way of filmmaking, with handheld camera work, jump cuts and existential dialogue.
French President Emmanuel Macron said of Godard’s death: “We have lost a national treasure, the eye of a genius.”
The legendary Franco-Swiss filmmaker’s lawyer confirmed this morning that Godard chose to end his life at the age of 91 after a long battle with “multiple debilitating illnesses.” (the filmmaker is pictured in 2000)
Godard was one of the world’s most acclaimed directors, known for the French New Wave films Breathless and Contempt
Assisted dying in Switzerland
In Switzerland, it is legal to give a person the means to commit suicide, as long as the reason is not “based on self-interest.”
The process is primarily conducted with assistance from assisted suicide organizations, the largest and most renowned of which are Dignitas and Exit.
Dignitas, the larger of the two, was founded in 1998 and requires those wishing to end their lives to undergo two consultations with the group and an independent physician, with competing services imposing similar safeguards.
The process ensures that each patient is reminded at regular intervals that they can stop and pursue other options, including up to the point where they are given a deadly drug cocktail to take their own life.
A signed affidavit is also produced as proof that the suicide was performed without malice, coercion or any other outside force, according to the law of the land.
If a patient decides to proceed with assisted dying, they are given two options: an intravenous drip or a small drink, both of which contain a lethal dose of sedatives.
In either case, the patient must self-administer the drugs by either drinking the lethal cocktail or pressing a button to infuse the drugs into their veins.
Switzerland has allowed assisted dying since 1942 and was the first country to do so.
At the Cannes Film Festival in 2014, Godard told Swiss broadcaster RTS that he didn’t think he would want to live at all costs if he got into trouble.
“If I’m too sick, I don’t want to be carried around in a wheelbarrow… not at all,” he said.
When asked whether he would consider assisted dying in Switzerland, he replied: ‘yes… for the time being’.
During a long career that began in the 1950s as a film critic, Godard was arguably the most groundbreaking director among New Wave filmmakers who rewrote the rules of camera, sound, and story – rebelling against an earlier tradition of more formulaic storytelling. narrate.
For the low-budget ‘Breathless’, Godard relied on a mobile, lightweight camera to capture street scenes and reach moviegoers in a new way.
He foregoing contrived sets and the “artifice” of the Hollywood cinema of the time, said one film expert. The impact was immediate – ‘Breathless’ arrived like a cinematic thunderclap when released in 1960 – and lasted.
Quentin Tarantino, director of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs in the 1990s, is often cited as one of a more recent generation of groundbreaking traditions initiated by Godard and his cohorts on the Left Bank of Paris.
Tarantino was such a fan of Godard that he even named his production company after one of his films, A Band Apart.
Born in Paris in 1930, Godard grew up and went to school in Nyon, on the shores of Lake Geneva.
He returned to Paris after finishing school in 1949, where he quickly became part of the post-war New Wave scene.
He began his film career by writing for film magazines before releasing his first feature, Breathless, in 1960, which immediately caught the attention of critics.
Godard went on to make groundbreaking films in the 1960s, including Le Petit Soldat, a controversial film that suggested the French government sanctioned torture, which was banned until 1963.
Godard was married twice, to actresses Anna Karina and Anne Wiazemsky, who both starred in several of his films.
During his four-year marriage to Karina from 1961-1965, Godard enjoyed some of his most memorable on-screen collaborations, including in Vivre sa vie (1962), Bande à part (1964) and Pierrot le Fou (1965).
Acclaimed filmmaker: Godard on the set of his 1963 film Le Mépris with Brigitte Bardot
He was married to Wiazemsky from 1967 to 1979, and the actress starred in his films La Chinoise (1967) and One Plus One (1968).
Godard met Swiss filmmaker Anne-Marie Miéville in 1970 and the two became collaborators before starting a romantic relationship that lasted until his death.
He also worked with the Rolling Stones on the 1968 film Sympathy for the Devil.
Godard had success in later life. His 2001 film In Praise of Love was selected for the Cannes Film Festival.
The film focused on an elderly Jewish couple whose life rights may be bought by Steven Spielberg, which was allegedly intended as a way to condemn Schindler’s List.
Duo: Godard was married to actress Anna Karina from 1961-1965, a period during which he enjoyed some of his most memorable on-screen collaborations
Successful partnership: He was married to Anne Wiazemsky from 1967 to 1979, starring the actress in his films La Chinoise (1967) and One Plus One (1968)
Godard had success in later life. In the photo received an honorary César Award in 1998
He once explained: ‘Spielberg takes black and white more seriously than color.
‘It’s fake thinking. For him, it’s not fake, I think he’s honest with himself, but he’s not very intelligent, so it’s a fake result. …'[He] used [Oskar Schindler] and this story and the whole Jewish tragedy as if it were a great orchestra, to turn a simple story into a stereophonic sound.’
His 2014 film Goodbye to Language won the jury prize at Cannes and the 2018 Image Book was awarded a ‘special Palme d’Or’ at the prestigious film festival.
The filmmaker received an Academy Honorary Award in 2010, but was not present at the ceremony.