Jean-Luc Godard: The Stormy Music of the Instigator of the New Wave

Music is omnipresent, entirely placed at the service of feature film. Classic or original, often destroyed and then recreated, like a whimsical puzzle. Imagined by Georges Delrue, Antoine Duhamel, Paul Mesraki, Michel Legrand, drawn from the repertoire of Mozartian or Bruckerian. The music of the films of Jean-Luc Godard, who left us on Tuesday at the age of 91, cannot leave anyone indifferent. At times, some music fans would say shocking use, incredibly modern, others would say. Immersed in the stormy music of the instigator of the new wave, made with cutscenes, quotes, and revolution tunes.


Thus, Jean-Luc Godard modeled, reshaped, and distorted the music in his feature films, even if it meant abusing the work of its creator. “Most of the time, composers wrote one or more themes, and then Jean-Luc Godard took the music and put it himself into his film. Above all, he cuts it, repeats it, cuts it, and paints it in a completely original way. It’s really in the intermission, the recess in which things are taking place in Godard cinemaanalyzes Thierry Joss, Director Sound Screens by Jean-Luc Godard, In cooperation with the director. “This way of cutting music is something no one has done before and so few have done after that. Almost a way to brutalize music, where he can brutalize an image.”

“You always have to start from the principle that for him cinema is the art that includes all the other arts. For Godard, all the other arts, as we said in the Middle Ages, are reusable materials, like cathedrals built from the stones of Greek temples.Desivers Carol Desbarts, author Godard effect and cooperating in Cinema Godard onlyDocumentary film presented at the Venice Film Festival. Godard treats music as he treats painting. And he would not hesitate to fragment the painting in his view. He would not hesitate to show it differently, from an unexpected angle. In music, he would do the same. To recover and reuse in the strict sense of the material in question.” With almost film noir tones, as in crazy Peru where Alphaville. Goldsmith’s work And the woman is the woman Where Godard, by spraying the film with sound illustrations, turns it into a musical.

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Even if it means kicking out a large part of the result: ” for live his life, Michel Legrand composed about a dozen variations on the same subject, at Godard’s request. But the latter used only one of the variations, which he repeated throughout the film, “ Thierry Joss notes. Touching lyrics also from Antoine Duhamel who composed the music for weekend : Godard did an interesting reconfiguration of my grades. With, when decoded music, the problem of recording rights. “He was always very arrogant about it, and his universal aura meant he could afford it. He made samples even before the word was used and without paying any rights, believe me, to publishing houses!”, Carol Despart says: Classic not spared: ” in Le Petit Soldt, in 1963, Haydn’s music is cut in the middle,” notes François-Xavier Simchak, producer at France Musique, who last year paid tribute to Godard’s music in Five episodes of ArabesqueReleased on the occasion of the director’s 90th birthday.

Classic at the service of modernity

Because Godard also liked to call great ammo. “We can observe the occurrence of many classical music. concerto Left Hand by Raphael V passion, The mass by Mozarts … Bach In Peace be upon you, Mary, the list is long., says Thierry Joss. Godard was not necessarily a musician, but he was a music lover, regularly listened to music at home and had musical ideas to present to his composers. Also refers to François-Xavier Szymczak, who also stands out “The omnipresence of the classical symphonic repertoire”, From 1955, in Godard’s filmography. With a certain orbital for the composer: Beethoven is perhaps the most recurring character in his work. in first name carmen, or in Missis, Where the string quartet of Beethoven is used in contrast with the Macha Méril plastic, in a very modest and sensual way. » Also note that in lion signEric Romer’s first feature film, “The Actor” Godard was already listening to Beethoven’s music over and over again.

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What does Godard then have to do with the notes? the love ? Indifference ? “He had a relationship that might seem a little informal to the music. He was very critical of the soundtrack for contempt, While it is his most famous music. Perhaps he thought it was more commercial music, in quotes ‘, presumably Thierry Goss. Perhaps what also upset Godard was the fact that George Delrue had had such a hit with this music. It has been played in orchestras all over the world, including amateurs…perhaps on account of the film”François-Xavier Simcak also suggests. “Still, the music is very moving, very Brahminsian, Brucknery.” Not to mention one “The hatred of Pierre Boulez”, Thierry Goose Slices.

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The song will also occupy a favorite place in the director’s filmography. In the 1960s, it was an original song by And the woman is the womanMichel Legrand with the words of Godard. My baby by Jan Ferrat in Live your life, let yourself go by Charles Aznavour in Thierry Joss says: A woman is a woman… Elements in tune with the times, which is also part of the way Godard was able to use music at certain times. » With eclecticism, François-Xavier Simchak adds: Indulge yourself in all genres, including the Rolling Stones, Rita Mitsuko, Jean Ferrat or Chantal Joya. »

Godard (re) composer

Gabriel Yared will be the last composer to collaborate with Jean-Luc Godard save who can (life), in the early ’80s (Yard also he hadn’t seen the movie, he just sailed on the horizon for composition). However, Godard will set his terms: to be an excerpt from Chapter Four of La Gioconda, by Ponchielli, in the feature film. So why did you decide not to invite composers anymore? “Maybe he wanted more freedom. But that’s surprising, especially since many of the following films evoke either composers or scores, such as Carmen’s name where Forever Mozart »notes François-Xavier Simcak.

In the mid-1980s, Manfred Escher, founder of the ECM publishing house, sent records to Jean-Luc Godard, his wife and collaborator, director Anne-Marie Meifel. “From that moment on, ECM catalogs were so present on Godard’s soundtrack, that they changed the aesthetics of the films quite a bit. With Arvo Pärt’s music, Giya Kancheli, very meditative music, and plenty of silence, Godard will be able to unleash his repertoire of montage and collage.” Untamed creativity, with Godard almost absorbing the job of composer. “If he does it without a composer, it’s because he puts himself in the composer’s shoes from the moment he puts on the music. Part Bruckner, part Bart, okay, but in the end he becomes Godard”Judge Carol Desparats.

The scene, in her opinion, masterfully integrates the relationship that Godard had with the outcome. In the movie passion, Hanna Shigulla is listening The incarnatus is Mozart. Godard did not tamper with the score. He puts his actress in front of this tune with very high notes, and she starts to sing poorly, as we all sing badly, except for professional singers, when we try to joke about the opera. Godard would put music into the actress’s body, making it an element of the story. A perfect translation of his relationship to music, in a very moving scene. »

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