Jean-Luc Godard: The pioneer of the new film wave has died at the age of 91

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Film director Jean-Luc Godard, the godfather of the French New Wave in cinema, died on Tuesday at the age of 91, French newspaper Liberation reported, citing people close to him.

The Franco-Swiss director was among the world’s most acclaimed filmmakers, known for such classics as Breathless and Contempt, which pushed the boundaries of cinema and inspired iconoclastic filmmakers decades after his 1960s heyday.

His films broke with the established conventions of French cinema in the 1960s and helped launch a new way of filmmaking, complete with hand-held camera work, jump shots and existential dialogue.

For many moviegoers, there aren’t enough good words: Godard, with his tousled black hair and thick-rimmed glasses, was a true revolutionary who made artists out of filmmakers, placing them on a par with master painters and literary icons.

“It’s not where you get things from – it’s where you take them,” Godard once said.

Quentin Tarantino, director of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs in the 1990s, is often cited as one of the newer generation of boundary-bending traditions that Godard and his colleagues on the Left Bank of Paris started.

Jean-Luc Godard (right) pictured with French actor Michel Piccoli (left) at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival.

/ AFP via Getty Images

Martin Scorsese came earlier in 1976 with Taxi Driver, the disturbing, neon-lit psychological thriller about a Vietnam veteran-turned-taxi who roams the streets all night with a growing obsession with the need to clean up run-down New York York.

Godard was not everyone’s idol. Wild Canadian director Xavier Dolan, who at 25 shared an award with the octogenarian Godard at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, courted controversy as much as Godard, calling him “the grumpy old man” and “not my hero.”

Godard was born into a wealthy French-Swiss family on December 3, 1930, in the luxurious Seventh Arrondissement of Paris.

His father was a doctor, his mother the daughter of a Swiss who founded Banque Paribas, then a famous investment bank.

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