New Wave film director Jean-Luc Godard dies aged 91

French-Swiss filmmaker was known for classics such as 'Breathless' and 'Contempt'

Jean-Luc Godard was among the world's most acclaimed directors. EPA
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Jean-Luc Godard, the godfather of France's New Wave cinema, has died aged 91.

French newspaper Liberation announced the news on Tuesday, citing people close to the director.

The French-Swiss director was among the world's most acclaimed filmmakers, known for such classics as Breathless and Contempt, which pushed cinematic boundaries and inspired others decades after his heyday in the 1960s.

His movies helped kickstart a new way of filmmaking, complete with handheld camera work, jump cuts and existential dialogue.

For many film buffs, no words are good enough: Godard, with his tussled black hair and heavy-rimmed glasses, was a veritable revolutionary who made artists out of movie-makers, putting them on a par with master painters and famous names in literature.

"It's not where you take things from — it's where you take them to," Godard once said.

Quentin Tarantino, director of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, is often cited as one of a more recent generation of boundary-bending tradition that Godard and his Paris Left Bank cohorts initiated.

Earlier came Martin Scorsese in 1976 with Taxi Driver, the disturbing neon-lit psychological thriller of a Vietnam veteran turned cabbie who steers through the streets all night with a growing obsession for the need to clean up seedy New York.

Godard was not everyone's idol. Wild-child Canadian director Xavier Dolan, who at 25 shared an award with an octogenarian Godard at the Cannes film festival in 2014, courted controversy every bit as much as Godard did but called him "the grinchy old man" and "no hero of mine".

Godard was born into a wealthy Franco-Swiss family on December 3, 1930, in Paris's plush Seventh Arrondissement. His father was a doctor, his mother was the daughter of a Swiss man who founded Banque Paribas, then an illustrious investment bank.

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Updated: September 13, 2022, 9:51 AM