Jean-Luc Godard Says Oscar Means “Nothing” To Him, Talks About Anti-Semitic Accusations

With Thanksgiving getting ever so close, I’m sure most of you will have a run in or two with elderly members of your respective clans, who may be a bit on the kooky side.

That is apparently where legendary French New Wave auteur has landed, as after being awarded an honorary Oscar over the weekend, the director is sounding a lot less like a brilliant filmmaker, and a lot more like your crazy grandfather.

Apparently, during an interview with the newspaper Die Sonntags Zeitung (via The New Yorker), the auteur revealed that his next film will be ‘about a man and his wife who no longer speak the same language.   The dog they take on walks then intervenes and speaks.   How I’ll do it, I don’t yet know.   The rest is simple.’ So apparently the same man behind classics like A Woman Is A Woman, or Breathless (the greatest piece of cinema ever crafted in the eyes of this writer) is looking to play in the same sandbox as films like Marmaduke and Cats And Dogs.   Yup.   Just what I would have expected.   He further states that 3D has caught his fancy, because he digs ‘when new techniques are introduced. Because it doesn’t have any rules yet.’

However, that’s not the craziest thing he’s said this week.   Not even close.

Godard recently spoke to NZZ (via Vulture) that his recent Oscar meant ‘nothing’ to him. ‘If the Academy likes to do it, let them do it. But I think it’s strange. I asked myself: Which of my films have they seen? Do they actually know my films? The award is called The Governor’s Award. Does this mean that Schwarzenegger gives me the award?’

Finally, in speaking on recent claims that he is an ‘anti-Semite’ he had this to say:

‘That’s nonsense! What does ‘˜anti-Semite’ mean? All peoples of the Mediterranean were Semites. So anti-Semite means anti-Mediterranean. The expression was only applied to Jews after the Holocaust and WWII. It is inexact and means nothing.’

Oh, but he isn’t done with the racial discussion:

‘Today, in my own thoughts, I would like to have a critical look at them. I am generally interested in the ‘˜other’. It’s the same thing with blacks. First, they were colonised, and later everyone acted as if they were just as we are. Of course, a black person can wear glasses and a watch, but this doesn’t make us the same.’

Somewhere, Mel Gibson is shaking his head.   Personally, while I’ve always been able to separate artist and his/her art from his/her personal life, there is something about a filmmaker who seemingly past his prime, if reviews of his latest film Film Socialisme are to be believed, who is simply becoming the epitome of a curmudgeon, with some massively problematic ideas on race and religion.   Someone like Roman Polanski is a different beast, because as of today, the man is still making massively solid pieces of cinema.   However, at this point, I must say, I wish that Godard would just kind of hang it up.   Or at least shut his mouth.

That said, I’m glad he’s not, because it gives me something to write about.   Just wish it wasn’t a filmmaker that I think has crafted some of the best films of all time.   It’s like that bad ass guy that you knew in high school, who ultimately became a gas station attendant.   Sad more than offensive.

Source: New Yorker / NZZ / Vulture

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6 Comments

  • Just because Godard’s post-sixties work fails to receive much attention in the US does not mean that he is not still a great and important director, as evidenced by such films as Nouvelle Vague, Histories du Cinema, and JLG/JLG, among others. As for the anti-Semitism argument, that’s already been thoroughly debunked by Bill Krohn in his review of Brody’s biography in Cinema-Scope.

  • I can’t see anything too problematic about his views as you have expressed them here. A difference is not an inferiority, an Oscar is not necessarily a life-altering honor, and a talking animal doesn’t have to be a Marmaduke. Chaos reigns anyone? I, for one, look forward to seeing more of his modern works, which I appreciate far more than the earlier stuff. Theatrical subtitling “elitism” aside, this man is still creating great art, regardless of whose feelings he may *hurt* along the way, or whose intellectual egos he may bruise.

  • “However, at this point, I must say, I wish that Godard would just kind of hang it up. Or at least shut his mouth.”

    If you’re trying to sound like a provincial, know-nothing, cliché-spewing lout on a bar stool, you’ve nailed it.

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