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Is Jean Luc Godard the greatest filmmaker of all time? Show more Show less

Jean Luc-Godard was the spearhead of the French new wave cinema. He directed films such as breathless, Vivre-sa vie which defied the laws that set the film making precedence and introduced jump cuts. Post world war 2, USA decided to forego the WW2 debt if France opened its market for US products and regulated its own film industry. In defiance, new directors such as Varda, Godard, Rivette brought some fabulous work on the table.

Jean Luc-Godard was not the greatest but is the most prolific filmmaker of all time Show more Show less

There will always be great directors in the film industry. Not one can be termed greatest as only one can't tap into the human emotions which sometimes are very endemic to a particular geography.
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Godard's controversial political ideas make him a problematic figure

His stance on political topics makes him a controversial figure. The common knowledge of Godard being allegedly anti-Jewish casts a shadow on his professional career. Moreover, his sympathetic attitude towards Germany for its role in World War II often causes him to lash out at the one-sided portrayals of the Holocaust by Hollywood.
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Context

The Argument

While no one can doubt that Jean Luc Godard has been an influential figure in French cinema, particularly during the 1950s and 60s, he is also infamous for holding a controversial stance on various political issues. The knowledge of him possibly being an anti-Semite came to light with the 1978 lecture in Montreal where he divulged details of his family rooting for a German victory in World War II. He went on to say that while his grandfather was “ferociously not even anti-Zionist, but anti-Jew… I am anti-Zionist.”[1] Godard’s sentiments towards Jews and Hollywood are particularly evident in his later films where he combines his resentment towards both through his obsession over the Holocaust. The 1993 release of the acclaimed film "Schindler’s List" directed by Steven Spielberg provided him with, according to him, was the perfect example of a phony film. He went so far as to even calling Spielberg, and by extension Hollywood, incapable of creating a film true to its reality, believing 'Schindler’s List' to be nothing more than an “orchestra, to make a stereophonic sound from a simple story.”[2] For Godard, the portrayal of the Holocaust in mainstream media is extremely one-sided, showcasing simply the plight of the Jews. Instead, he believes that another facet of history could be brought to light if the life of a concentration guard was to be made available for the world to see. He displayed his deep-rooted sympathy for Germany on every occasion possible, making him a controversial figure.

Counter arguments

While encouraging prejudice is unacceptable, boycotting films like those of Godard’s on the basis of his alleged anti-Semitic views is not the answer to eliminating prejudice. This stands for two reasons. The first that, even if his films are anti-Semitic, rejecting them only furthers the idea that such prejudice did not exist, if thought of from the perspective of someone who has never stood witness to it or is unaware of its existence. The second reason for this is that refusing to acknowledge his genius in the field of filmmaking would also mean disregarding an entire wave of revolutionary filmmaking which has influenced many. Turning a blind eye to his ingenuity because of alleged personal inclinations would be going against the freedom art stands for.

Framing

Premises

[P1] He took controversial stances on political issues.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] It is necessary to separate a person from their profession.

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://jewishjournal.com/culture/arts/83308/
  2. https://www.filmcomment.com/article/jean-luc-godard-interview-nouvelle-vague-histoires-du-cinema-helas-pour-moi/

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This page was last edited on Monday, 22 Jun 2020 at 16:10 UTC