Jean-Paul Belmondo, icon of French cinema, died at 88
The actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, one of the brightest stars of the French New Wave, has died at the age of 88. Considered “the most fascinating ugly of French cinema”, Belmondo achieved international notoriety with the 1961 classic “A bout de souffle” (Until the last breath) by Jean-Luc Godard, which launched the new French cinema worldwide. In the film, Belmondo played an unfortunate thug who falls in love with the American Jean Seberg in Paris, in a role that also launched the career of “Bebel”, with his crushed nose and carefree charm, now counting over 80 films in which he played a great variety of roles, proving himself to be an actor of exceptional versatility.
A talent awarded in 2011 with the Palme d’Or for Lifetime Achievement at the 64th edition of the Cannes Film Festival and in 2016 with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice International Film Festival, consecrating a personality that has become central to French popular culture .
“The Tricolore, a glass of cognac, a flared hem – have been demoted to secondary symbols of France”, Time wrote in 1964, elevating Belmondo to the symbol of a new France. “The main symbol is the image of a young man sprawled in a coffee chair… it is Jean-Paul Belmondo, the natural child of the existentialist conception, who represents everything and nothing at the speed of 738 miles per hour”.
“It will always remain Il Magnifico. Jean-Paul Belmondo was a national treasure, full of panache and laughter, with a strong voice and snappy physique, a sublime hero and familiar figure, a tireless daredevil and wizard of words. We all found ourselves in him, ”the French president wrote on Twitter Emmanuel Macron.
According to his lawyer Michel Godest, Belmondo “passed away peacefully”. “He has been very fatigued for some time,” he said according to AFP reports.
Belmondo, born on 9 April 1933 in Neuilly-sur-Seine to the famous sculptor Paul Belmondo and the painter Sarah Rainaud-Richard, had already been struck by a cerebral ischemia in 2001, which had kept him away from the big screen until 2008.