Jean-Luc Godard received an honorary Oscar at the Governor’s Ball in California. And he didn’t bother to show up. Why? Godard says, “I don’t have a visa for the U.S. and I don’t want to apply for one. And I don’t want to fly for that long.” And when he was asked what the award means to him, he replied, “Nothing. If the Academy likes to do it, let them do it. But I think it’s strange. I asked myself: Which of my films have they seen? Do they actually know my films? The award is called The Governor’s Award. Does this mean that Schwarzenegger gives me the award?”
There’s been a bit of controversy surrounding the decision to give the honorary statue to Monsieur Godard because of actions, and statements he has made that lead most to believe he’s an anti-Semite, and all around a racist. Even though, he had a few of his colleagues show up to the awards function defending the director. Filmmaker Lynn Littman came to Godard’s defense saying, “There is no question, Godard has been an irreverent provocateur for his entire career, but he never used his art to promote bigotry, and that’s the key distinction that I had to understand so I could honor him tonight.”
Godard may have been the father of New Wave Cinema, but he hasn’t had a critically acclaimed film for years. His next project doesn’t sound very promising either, as he announced he has decided to enter the world of a talking dog who must translate between an estranged husband and wife who are having trouble communicating. He then goes on to suggest that he might try his hand at 3D, explaining that he “likes when new techniques are introduced. Because it doesn’t have any rules yet.”
In the interview quoted above (from Vulture) where he basically said “Fuck You” to the AMPAS, he continued to dig himself a hole, guided by an interviewer that seemed bent on getting Godard to damn himself. Godard claims that the very notion of the word “anti-Semite” is ridiculous saying:
“That’s nonsense! What does ‘anti-Semite’ mean? All peoples of the Mediterranean were Semites. So anti-Semite means anti-Mediterranean. The expression was only applied to Jews after the Holocaust and WWII. It is inexact and means nothing.”
After this inflammatory statement, he backpeddles a bit and cites regret for not standing up for the Jews during the Holocaust. But then he puts his foot back in mouth with the following:
“Today, in my own thoughts, I would like to have a critical look at them [the Jews]. I am generally interested in the ‘other’. It’s the same thing with blacks. First, they were colonised, and later everyone acted as if they were just as we are. Of course, a black person can wear glasses and a watch, but this doesn’t make us the same.”
That’s not not all of it either. There’s plenty more to make you uncomfortable. Should you feel the need, check it out at Vulture’s site.
So, what do you think? Personally, I love Godard’s older stuff. His film Week End is one of my all time favorites. Do his incendiary comments make you see his work in a different light?