Actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, an icon of the seventh art in France, died on September 6 at the age of 88. Remembered for his performance in Jean-Luc Godard’s legendary ‘Sin aliento’, he leaves an imprint of almost half a century of cinema.
Jean-Paul Belmondo, a happy legend of French and European cinema in recent decades, actor, producer, and director of cinema and theater, an essential figure of all the film schools of his time, of the Nouvelle Vague. who invented a new language, the most popular cinema. The cause of Jean-Paul Belmondo’s death is not yet known.
Belmondo was born into a very bourgeois family in Neuilly-sur-Seine, on the once aristocratic periphery of western Paris, and has died in his private hotel in the heart of his intimate, cosmopolitan and popular city.
His father was a renowned sculptor. And he wished for his son a very select education, compatible, in his view, with the career of artist that the young Belmondo dreamed of.
His time at the Alsacian School and the great Parisian high schools was very little enthusiasm. “To tell the truth, I was not very interested in studies. He dreamed of being a clown. I was only interested in the circus and boxing », he would say in his last maturity.
His father, Paul Belmondo, a sculptor and academic, fully understood his son’s temptations and inclinations. And he did not stop supporting him, advising him to study diction and drama. During those formative years, he met several of his great lifelong friends, such as Jean-Pierre Marielle and Jean Rochefort.
At the crossroads of many paths, between his time in fashionable cabarets during his early youth and his incipient dramatic career, Belmondo began by becoming one of the emblematic figures of the cinematographic Nouvelle Vague, which was embodied by Claude Chabrol, François Truffaut, Jean Luc Godard, among others, without forgetting the great patriarch and friend, Jean-Pierre Melville. ‘At the end of the getaway’ (1960), by Godard, and ‘The confidant’ (1962), by Melvill, are perhaps two of the most emblematic characters of that essential period of his career and French cinema. Without forgetting that during the 50s and 60s of the 20th century, Belmondo worked with all the great French cinema of his time: Marcel Carné, Marc Allegret, Claude Sautet, Marcel Ophüls, Édouard Molinaro, Jacques Deray, Henri Verneuil, Claude Lelouche, Alain Resnais …
Belmondo was able to embody the fugitive heroes of Melville and other very complex characters such as the ‘Stavisky …’ of Resnais. His immense talent and the Olympic character of his person soon became a national legend, seducer of the general public and not a few women.
He came from a talented family
His talent was not by chance, since Jean-Paul Belmondo came from a family of artists, his father was a renowned Italian sculptor.
A meeting with the filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard – another leading figure in the Nouvelle Vague of the seventh art – sealed his fate.
“Come to my room, we will make a movie and I will give you 50,000 francs,” Godard told Belmondo, whom he had passed on the street. Belmondo was not yet 30 years old. And then would come his participation, in 1960, in the emblematic “À Bout de Souffle”.
After the success of the film, the directors “came to me”, Belmondo recounted in 2016 in a scrapbook, “Mille vies valent mieux qu’une” (“A thousand lives are worth more than one”).
But “Bébel” would not only occupy a central role in the Nouvelle Vague. He also left the mark of a physical actor, a lover of fights, cultivating a large dose of humor, as he did in “Le Cerveau” (“The Brain”).
His boxer physique would earn him popular hits in “El Hombre de Rio” by Philippe De Broca, “Le Professionnel” (“The Professional, 1981) by Georges Lautner or” L’as des as “(” Ace of aces “), by Gérard Oury.
Belmondo acted under the orders of the most renowned directors of the time, such as Vittorio de Sica, François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, Alain Resnais and Claude Lelouch.