CANNES, France (Reuters) – Jean-Luc Godard is everywhere at Cannes this year, with an image from his 1965 New Wave classic “Pierrot le Fou” gracing the film festival’s poster. But the man himself was nowhere to be seen when his latest movie premiered on Friday.
The 87-year-old French-Swiss director, revered as a living legend by film buffs but derided as pretentious and irrelevant by his detractors, is in competition for the Palme d’Or, Cannes top prize, which he has never won in his near 60-year career.
Having made his name by breaking cinematic rules in the 1960s by unconventional editing and having characters turn to address the camera, he has always strived for originality, with mixed success.
“Le Livre d’Image” (“Image Book”) is a collage of film clips and images with an often conflicting soundtrack of voiceover and dialogue that appears to address philosophical or political ideas, only to cut out halfway.
“No activity will become art until its epoch is over, then it will disappear,” says an old man’s voice in French.
A packed Cannes auditorium shed hundreds of viewers during the premiere of a movie that Variety magazine reported would become a traveling art installation, possibly a better setting for “Image Book”, as it would let the viewer move around a 500 to 600 square-meter space to dip in and out of the pictures and sounds.
“Now he’s like this old, semi-god who can do whatever he wants. He’s not making traditional cinema,” said Michel Hazanavicius, who last year brought the starkly satirical Godard biopic “Redoubtable” to Cannes.
“We should put him in the contemporary arts category. That’s where he belongs now,” Hazanavicius, director of “The Artist”, said in an interview with IndieWire.
The Cannes Film Festival runs from May 8 to May 19.
Reporting by Robin Pomeroy, editing by Louise Heavens