“When you die, as late as possible…” Jean-Luc Godard, cigar in his mouth, cuts off the journalist in his question: “Not necessarily as late as possible.” We are in 2014, on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival. The director ofFarewell to languagefilm then in competition, is a guest of the show Excuse me, on Swiss Radio and Television (RTS). The journalist continues: “You are in no hurry [de mourir] ?” Godard winces. “I am not anxious to pursue at full force. If I’m too sick, I don’t want to be dragged in a wheelbarrow… Not at all.” Could he have recourse to assisted suicide in Switzerland, where he has lived since the 1970s? “Yes”, he confides, before adding that “for the moment” this chosen death “It’s still very difficult.”
The Franco-Swiss filmmaker, who died on Tuesday at the age of 91, finally succeeded in following through on his convictions. His wife Anne-Marie Miéville and his producers confirmed his death at the end of the morning, explaining that he was “died peacefully at his home surrounded by his loved ones”, in Rolle, on the shores of Lake Geneva. “He wasn’t sick, he was just exhausted, says a close family member to Release. So he had made the decision to end it. It was his decision and it was important for him that it be known. Another person close to the filmmaker confirms this information.
Authorized in Switzerland
In Switzerland, assisted suicide is permitted. Article 115 of the Swiss Penal Code, which dates from 1937, only stipulates that “Anyone who, driven by a selfish motive, incites a person to commit suicide, or assists him in committing suicide, shall be punished by a custodial sentence not exceeding five years or by a monetary penalty”. the “selfish motive” therefore leaves a significant margin of appreciation, allowing associations such as Exit, Dignitas or Life Circle to help people die medically.
“I often ask my doctor, my lawyer, like this: ‘If I come to ask you for barbiturates, […] morphine, will you give me some?” I haven’t had a favorable response yet.” so said the filmmaker of the New Wave in 2014.
If he was not sick, according to those close to him, the director has, throughout his career, had a philosophical reflection on the question of suicide. “Godard is fascinated by suicide”, thus writes the film critic Jean-Luc Douin in Jean-Luc Godard. Dictionary of passions. Young, the filmmaker “carries a razor blade in his wallet”, recalls the journalist. “Eric Rohmer found him one day in his studio, bathing in his blood, for a brutally ended idyll. One evening, during the filming ofA woman is a woman, he argues so violently with Anna Karina that he cuts his wrists.
“I think of the suffering, the rest no”
In 2004, at Releasethe director of Pierrot le fou (1965) confessed to having made a suicide attempt “in a somewhat charlatanesque form”, after 1968. “So that they pay attention to me”, he said. In Our music (2004), he will have an actress read a sentence by Albert Camus taken from the Myth of Sisyphus : “There is only one really serious philosophical problem: suicide.” In his films, the theme of suicide is often present. In 1987, in take care of your righthe puts in the hands of Michel Galabru suicide user manuala book banned from sale in France a few years after its release in 1982.
“You still have it [le livre] ?», journalist Patrick Cohen will ask him, during a long interview on France Inter in 2014. “Yes yes, replied Godard. It’s been a long time since I’ve read it…” In this same interview, the filmmaker assured not to think of death, but “to suffering”, “the rest, no”.
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