French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to the director on Tuesday, writing that the country had lost a “national treasure”.
“It was like an apparition in French cinema,” tweeted Macron. “Then he became one of its masters. Jean-Luc Godard, the most iconoclastic of New Wave directors, invented a thoroughly modern, intensely free art. We lose a national treasure, a vision of genius.”
While studying for a degree in ethnology at the University of Paris, he made his film debut with the short film “Operation Béton” (“Operation Concrete”) in 1954.
Godard’s first feature, “À bout de souffle” (“Breathless”), in 1960, was a celebration of the carefree improvisational cinematography that became synonymous with his style.
In the following years, his films dealt with complex themes such as volatility, shamelessness and whimsy.
Notable later works included the “trilogy of the sublime,” consisting of three films exploring femininity, nature and religion — 1982’s “Passion,” the following year’s “Prénom Carmen” (“Name: Carmen”) and “Je vous salut, Marie.” (“Hail Mary”) in 1985.
Danish-French actress Anna Karina, who appeared in several roles and was briefly married to the director, said that working with Godard often meant they didn’t have a script and had to study the interviews before filming.
During his long career, he received an honorary César award in 1987 and 1998, and an honorary Oscar award in 2010.
Many tributes have been posted on social media by members of the film industry.
In a tweet, actor Antonio Banderas thanked Godard for “expanding the boundaries of cinema”.
Edgar Wright, the director known for “Baby Driver” and “Hot Fuzz,” called him “the most influential filmmaker and iconoclast of them all.”
Wright tweeted: “It was ironic that he respected the Hollywood studio filmmaking system, because perhaps no other director has inspired so many people to pick up a camera and start shooting.”
French newspaper Liberation was the first to report Godard’s death.