Jean-Luc Godard born
Perhaps not coincidentally, cinema’s premiere critic of bourgeois politics was raised in an affluent and comfortable life. Jean-Luc Godard was born in Paris, the second of four children, to a respected physician with his own clinic and a mother whose family had strong banking interests. From the start, Godard learned to live between multiple worlds. He grew up in a Protestant family in primarily Catholic country. His childhood was spent being shuttled between Paris and Switzerland, and he attained dual citizenship at the age of 10. When the Nazis invaded France, Godard (after a short stint on the coast) was returned to Switzerland where he and his family lived out the rest of the war. In 1945, Godard returned to Paris to study at the Lycée Buffon, where he quickly found himself failing his courses. Part of the problem was that his real studies were taking place elsewhere at the Cinémathèque Française, whose director, Henri Langlois, Godard would later credit for his education. It was there, and at the cine club Travail et Culture, that Godard met other cineastes (such as François Truffaut Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer and André Bazin) who would join him in the movement soon to be known as the French New Wave. In addition to floundering at college, Godard took up petty theft, even claiming to have financed Rivette’s first short by stealing and reselling rare books from his grandfather’s collection. While born into affluence, Godard’s teen criminality soon alienated him from his parents and extended family. His new family became the critics and cineastes that gathered around the Cahiers du cinema, filmmakers he would assist and who would in turn help him make his first feature Breathless (À bout de souffle) in 1960. The tale of petty criminal directed in a way that defied cinematic code helped define the radical style that Godard would embody for years to come.