Godard: One big act

Reutersvincentkessler_godard460 The answer to the question at the end of the article is”yes”.  Chris Petit in the Guardian:

Godard wrote his own epitaph early, in Alphaville (1965): “You will suffer a fate worse than death. You will become a legend.” There is no bigger personality cult in terms of film director as artist, and Godard has always been an assiduous curator, understanding the need, as Warhol did, of making a spectacle of himself. But while professing openness he remains opaque and, in a sense, the film-maker known as Jean-Luc Godard may not exist, any more than the musician known as Bob Dylan does, except as several simulacra. For this reason, the scattered asides in Richard Brody’s exhaustive new biography, Everything is Cinema, perform the book’s most useful task, catching the less canny, unguarded Godard.

He suffers from vertigo (how appropriate). He admits to having no imagination and taking everything from life. When he was given a camera to use by film-maker Don Pennebaker, Pennebaker was touched by his incompetence, which included the beginner’s mistake of zooming in and out too much. He was introduced to the fleshpots of Paris in the 1950s by an early mentor, film director Jean-Pierre Melville. Financial transactions with prostitutes were treated as potential mises en scène (Vivre sa vie, Sauve qui peut); cinema as whore. His handwriting features in many of his films; ditto his voice. He plays tennis, or did (he’s nearly 80 now). When he passed on production money from a film to Italian revolutionaries, they used it to open a transvestite bar. He smoked a fat version of Gitanes called Boyards. In his Marxist days, he still travelled first class. He tried to avoid writing scripts whenever possible. His once great friend François Truffaut called him “the Ursula Andress” of the revolutionary movement. He is Protestant in temperament and an unforgiving moralist. He drops names. He lay in a coma for a week after a motorcycle accident. He can be nasty. He has been known to suffer hopeless crushes. In late adolescence he was committed by his father into psychiatric care. His on-set tantrums are legendary. He is the Saint Simeon Stylites of cinema, atop his pillar, or, as Truffaut described him, nothing but a piece of shit on a pedestal. For all his utopian ideals, conflict and rejection are the dominant impulses of his life and work.