Jean-Luc Godard rose to prominence as a pioneer of the French New Wave film movement of the 1960s.
Godard once wrote, “all you need to make a film is a girl and gun”. He proved it with his stylish and edgy debut film Breathless (À Bout de Souffle) in 1960.
Breathless was filmed on location, using handheld cameras, with Godard writing the script on the day, feeding lines to his actors as they filmed. The technique used by Godard gives Breathless great spontaneity and a documentary-like feel.
According to AllMovie, the French filmmakers work “revolutionized the motion picture form” through its experimentation with narrative, continuity, sound, and camerawork.
His innovative style influenced famous directors from Quentin Tarantino to Martin Scorsese.
Godard’s notable films include Breathless (1960), Contempt (1963), Band of Outsiders (1964), Pierrot le Fou (1965), and Weekend (1967).
Below we’ve listed our favorite Jean-Luc Godard quotes on filmmaking. If you find this article helpful then we would be grateful if you could share it with other filmmakers.
Jean-Luc Godard on Cinema
The cinema is not an art which films life: the cinema is something between art and life. Unlike painting and literature, the cinema both gives to life and takes from it, and I try to render this concept in my films. Literature and painting both exist as art from the very start; the cinema doesn’t.
You don’t make a movie, the movie makes you.
I don’t think you should FEEL about a movie. You should feel about a woman. You can’t kiss a movie.
In my cinema, there are never any intentions. It’s not me inventing this empty auditorium. I don’t want to say anything, I try to show, or to get feeling across, or to allow something else to be said after the fact.
I make film to make time pass.
Art attracts us only by what it reveals of our most secret self.
To me, thinking about films and making them is no different.
The cinema should consist not so much in showing what’s happening. Films should show what is not happening. [May 2018]
The cinema is the only art which, as Cocteau says ( in Orpheus, I believe ) “films death at work,” The person one films is growing older and will die. We film, therefore, a moment when death is working. Painting is immobile; the cinema is interesting because it seizes life and the mortal
aspect of life.
Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world.
Photography is truth. The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second.
Godard Filmmaking Quotes
A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order.
All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun.
When you produce an image, be it of the past, the present or the future, you have to do away with two images each time to find the really good one. [May 2018]
Tracking shots are a question of morality.
My first shorts had a lot of preparation and were shot very quickly. Breathless was started in this way. I had written the first scene (Jean Seberg on the Champs Elysees) and, for the rest. I had an enormous amount of notes corresponding to each scene. I said to myself, this is very distracting. I stopped everything. Then I reflected: in one day, if one knows what one is doing, one should be able to shoot a dozen sequences. Only, instead of having the mate rial for a long time, I’ll get it just before. When one knows where he is going, this must be possible. This is not improvisation, it’s decision-making at the last minute.
I improvise, without doubt, but with material that dates from way back. One gathers, over the years, piles of things and then suddenly puts them in what one is doing.
“[Breathless] was a film that took everything that cinema had done – girls, gangsters, cars – exploded all this and put an end, once and for all, to the old style.”
Breathless is a story, not a suqject. A subject is some thing simple and vast about which one can make a resume in twenty seconds : revenge, pleasure . . . a story takes twenty minutes to recapitulate.
To me style is just the outside of content, and content the inside of style, like the outside and the inside of the human body-both go together, they can’t be separated.
Every edit is a lie.
Film Business and Other Directors
In the beginning I believed in Cannes, but now it’s just for publicity. People come to Cannes just to advertise their films, not with a particular message. But the advantage is that if you go to the festival, you get so much press coverage in three days that it advertises the film for the rest of the year.
[on Orson Welles] All of us will always owe him everything.
Bresson [Robert Bresson] is to French cinema what Mozart [Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart] is to German music and Dostoyevsky [Fyodor Dostoevsky] is to Russian literature.
In the temple of cinema, there are images, light and reality. Sergei Parajanov was the master of that temple.
I pity the French Cinema because it has no money. I pity the American Cinema because it has no ideas.
Perhaps the most interesting thing with video is that you can grab the camera easily. But if you can grab the camera easily, maybe you can put it down more easily too and think about it better.
Art is not a reflection of reality, it is the reality of a reflection
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