Jean-Luc Godard Remembered by Martin Scorsese, Antonio Banderas, Edgar Wright and More: ‘We Are Losing a National Treasure’

The pioneering French New Wave director known for “Breathless” died Tuesday at age 91

jean-luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard in 1980 (Getty Images)

Tributes are pouring in for the legendary French New Wave filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, who died Tuesday at age 91. The Franco-Swiss director, who helped usher in a new era of cinema with titles like “Breathless” (1960) and “A Woman is a Woman” (1961), was mourned and celebrated across social media by scores of fans and fellow artists.

Martin Scorsese said that the director “re-defined the very idea of what a movie was and where it could go. No one was as daring as Godard.”

“He never made a picture that settled into to any one rhythm or mood or point of view, and his films never lulled you into a dream state. They woke you up. They still do, and they always will,” his statement continued. “It’s difficult to think that he’s gone. But if any artist can be said to have left traces of his own presence in his art, it’s Jean-Luc Godard. And I must say right now, when so many people have gotten used to seeing themselves defined as passive consumers, his movies feel more necessary and alive than ever.”

Edgar Wright called him “one of the most influential, iconoclastic film-makers of them all,” recalling the “Breathless/Godard” spoofs he made while he was in college. “It was ironic that he himself revered the Hollywood studio film-making system, as perhaps no other director inspired as many people to just pick up a camera and start shooting,” said the writer-director.

Antonio Banderas thanked “monsieur Godard” for “expanding the boundaries of the cinema,” while French president Emmanuel Macron called him a “master” and a “national treasure.”

“Jean-Luc Godard, the most iconoclastic of New Wave filmmakers, had invented a resolutely modern, intensely free art,” the politician wrote on Twitter. “We are losing a national treasure, a look of genius.”

Actor and director Stephen Fry bid “adieu” to the “Le Petit Soldat” director on Twitter, as well.

“I watched Breathless for the umpteenth time again just two weeks ago. It still leaps off the screen like few movies,” he wrote. “That scene between them in the hotel: how many other directors could have managed that in so small a space and made it so captivating?”

“Amy” and “Senna” director Asif Kapadia declared “The King is Dead.” Peter Ramsey, director of “Into the Spider-Verse” and “Rise of the Guardians” simply wrote, “The giants are leaving.”

Film institutions from around the world also chimed in with their tributes. New York City’s Museum of the Moving Image deemed Godard “a true pioneer and free spirit,” writing that he “permanently changed the landscape of cinema, shattering form and expectation.”

“Godard shaped cinema in the sixties, and has since then consistently renewed cinema and expanded the visual experience,” said Berlin International Film Festival directors Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian. “To this day, he inspires filmmakers worldwide.”

The Criterion Collection paid tribute with a message that read, “Goodnight to Jean-Luc Godard, a titan of cinema whose work introduced the world to a new cinematic lexicon and exerted an incalculable influence on modern cinema that refused to wane in his more than six decades of filmmaking.”

Read below for more tributes to Godard.