Legendary director Jean-Luc Godard died by assisted suicide in Switzerland, we learned.
The lawyer for the legendary Franco-Swiss filmmaker confirmed this morning that Godard had chosen to end his life at the age of 91 after a long fight against “multiple disabling illnesses”.
Godard died at his home in the Swiss town of Rolle on Lake Geneva, his family said in a statement, adding that he will be cremated and there will be no official ceremony.
While euthanasia in Switzerland is illegal because it involves someone other than the patient playing an active role in their death, doctors can prescribe a cocktail of drugs which, if ingested or injected by intravenous infusion, allow a patient to commit suicide. .
The French daily Liberation quoted a person close to the family as saying that “it was [Godard’s] decision and it was important to him that people be informed.
Godard was one of the world’s most acclaimed directors, known for the French New Wave films Breathless and Contempt, which inspired a generation of directors including Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese.
His directing style broke with convention and helped pioneer a new way of making films, with handheld camera work, skipped cuts and existential dialogue.
French President Emmanuel Macron said of Godard’s death: “We have lost a national treasure, the eye of a genius.”
The lawyer for the legendary Franco-Swiss filmmaker confirmed this morning that Godard had chosen to end his life at the age of 91 after a long fight against “multiple disabling illnesses”. (the filmmaker is pictured in 2000)
Godard was one of the world’s most acclaimed directors, known for breathless and contemptuous French new wave films
Aid in dying in Switzerland
In Switzerland, it is legal to provide an individual with the means to commit suicide as long as the reason is not “based on self-interest”.
The process is mainly carried out with the help of assisted suicide organizations, the largest and most reputable of which are Dignitas and Exit.
Dignitas, the larger of the two, was founded in 1998 and requires those wishing to end their lives to complete two consultations with the group and an independent doctor, with competing services applying similar safeguards.
The process ensures that each patient is reminded at regular intervals that they can stop and pursue other options, including until they are given a cocktail of deadly drugs to kill themselves.
A signed affidavit is also produced as proof that the suicide was committed without malice, coercion or any other outside force, in accordance with the law of the land.
If a patient decides to seek medical assistance in dying, they are offered two options: an intravenous drip or a small drink, both of which contain a lethal dose of sedatives.
In either case, the patient must self-administer the drugs by drinking the lethal cocktail or pressing a button to insert the drugs into their veins via the IV drip.
Switzerland has allowed medical assistance in dying since 1942 and was the first country to do so.
At the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, Godard told Swiss broadcaster RTS that he didn’t think he would want to continue living at any cost if he found himself in dire straits.
“If I’m too sick, I don’t want to be dragged in a wheelbarrow…not at all,” he said.
When asked if he would consider medical assistance in dying in Switzerland, he replied: “yes…for now”.
In a long career that began in the 1950s as a film critic, Godard was perhaps the most innovative director among New Wave filmmakers who rewrote the rules of camera, sound and of storytelling – rebelling against an earlier tradition of more stereotypical storytelling.
For the low-budget “A bout de souffle,” Godard relied on a lightweight, mobile camera to capture street scenes and reach moviegoers in a new way.
It got rid of the artificial backgrounds and “artifice” of Hollywood cinema at the time, a film expert has said. The impact was immediate – ‘Breathless’ arrived like a cinematic thunderclap when it was released in 1960 – and lasting.
Quentin Tarantino, director of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs in the 1990s, is often cited as one of the most recent creators of the boundary-breaking lore initiated by Godard and his Left Bank Paris acolytes.
Tarantino was such a fan of Godard that he even named his production company after one of his films, A Band Apart.
Born in Paris in 1930, Godard grew up and studied in Nyon, on the shores of Lake Geneva.
He returned to Paris after finishing his studies in 1949 where he quickly became part of the post-war New Wave scene.
He began his film career by writing for film magazines before releasing his first feature film, Breathless, in 1960, which immediately attracted critical attention.
Godard then made consecutive seminal films throughout the 1960s, including Le Petit Soldat, a controversial feature film which suggested that the French government condoned torture, which was banned until 1963.
Godard was married twice, to actresses Anna Karina and Anne Wiazemsky, both of whom starred in several of his films.
It was during his four-year marriage to Karina from 1961 to 1965 that Godard enjoyed some of his most memorable screen collaborations, including in Vivre sa vie (1962), Bande à part (1964) and Pierrot the Fool (1965).
Acclaimed filmmaker: Godard on the set of his 1963 film Contempt with Brigitte Bardot
He was married to Wiazemsky from 1967 to 1979, with the actress starring in his films La Chinoise (1967) and One Plus One (1968).
Godard met Swiss filmmaker Anne-Marie Miéville in 1970 and the two became collaborators before beginning a romantic relationship that continued until his death.
He also worked with the Rolling Stones on the film Sympathy for the Devil in 1968.
Godard had continued success later in life. His 2001 film Praise of Love was selected for the Cannes Film Festival.
The film focused on an elderly Jewish couple whose rights to life are potentially bought off by Steven Spielberg, which was supposed to be a way of dooming Schindler’s List.
Duo: Godard was married to actress Anna Karina from 1961 to 1965, a period during which he enjoyed some of his most memorable on-screen collaborations
Successful partnership: He was married to Anne Wiazemsky from 1967 to 1979, with the actress starring in his films La Chinoise (1967) and One Plus One (1968)
Godard had continued success later in life. Pictured receiving an honorary Caesar in 1998
He once explained, “Spielberg thinks black and white is more serious than color.
‘This is false thinking. For him, it’s not bogus, I think he’s being honest with himself, but he’s not very smart, so it’s a bogus result. …'[He] used [Oskar Schindler] and this story and all the Jewish tragedy as if it were a big orchestra, to make stereophonic sound out of a simple story.
His 2014 film Goodbye to Language won him the Jury Prize at Cannes, and 2018’s Image Book received a “Special Palme d’Or” at the prestigious film festival.
The filmmaker received an Academy Honorary Award in 2010 but did not attend the ceremony.