Jean-Luc Godard: Have camera, will shoot

by Peter D. Marshall

by Ranjan Das.

Have camera, will shoot
Way back in 1960, a young filmmaker in Paris called Jean-Luc Godard debuted with a film called A Bout De Souffle (Breathless) that stirred filmmakers all over the world. Touted as the first ‘modern’ film by critics, in its depiction of a casual relationship between a gangster and a young American girl, the film marked a milestone in the French New Wave Movement that had been engendered by four other filmmakers — Francois Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer and Jacques Rivette, who were all film critics for an influential film magazine called Cahier du Cinema before they decided to turn into filmmakers around the same time.

The movement left its mark all over the world, including filmmakers in the US in the late 60s and early 70s who came to be known as the ‘New Hollywood’ — Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, Dennis Hopper and several others. Its impact was even felt in India in the films of Mrinal Sen and other young filmmakers around that time, many of them graduates of FTII.

Even a classically inclined director like Satyajit Ray, who otherwise was sceptical of undue experimentations, acknowledged its influence on his oeuvre and singled out Godard’s Breathless and Truffaut’s 400 Blows as major inspirations. The movement and its varied styles continue to inspire contemporary filmmakers even today like Quentin Tarantino, amongst others.

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