The MFA brings the city of light to the hub of the universe

by Beacon Staff • February 18, 2009

Recognized as one of the innovators to the New Wave films of the 1950s and 60s, and honored by critics as a revolutionary director and writer in the world of cinema, Jean-Luc Godard is a pillar in French movie making. His realistic approach to the art defied almost every aspect of traditional Hollywood cinema, and strove to combine his anti-bourgeoisie philosophy with the constant reinvention of fixed genres and images.

Some of his signature techniques included incredibly long shots, irregular jump cuts and noticeably hand-held shots that lent a more natural, but hardly seamless feel to the flow of his films. Godard's snubbing of society is also a running theme in his movies, congruent with his existentially Marxist philosophy.

Nine of his films, spanning from 1960 to 1967, have been chosen for inclusion into the Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Film Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, each one noted for their individually masterful contributions.

First among these is iBreathless/i (1960), following the trail of character Michel Poiccard, a sociopath who murders a policeman while in love with an American beauty named Patricia. One of the most celebrated projects of Godard's career-and a springboard for his future success-the film has accrued widespread praise over the years. It has many critics in awe of its original and unconventional boldness of style and plot. In an online review of Breathless, Roger Ebert writes, "It is dutifully repeated that Godard's technique of 'jump cuts' is the great breakthrough, but startling as they were, they were actually an afterthought, and what is most revolutionary about the movie is its headlong pacing, its cool detachment, its dismissal of authority and the way its narcissistic young heroes are obsessed with themselves and oblivious to the larger society."

iVivre sa Vie/i, translated as "My Life to Live", serves as another example of his use of the camera to express ideology.