Paris. The eternal smile of French cinema, actor Jean-Paul Belmondo passed away this Monday at the age of 88, a disappearance that leaves screens around the world without one of its greatest figures.
Belmondo, who had had health problems since suffering a stroke in 2001, died “quietly” after spending several days “very exhausted”, explained the actor’s lawyer and personal friend, Michelle Godest, who appeared in various media. News announced.
“Belmondo was a national treasure,” said French President Emmanuel Macron, summarizing the significance of the loss for the whole country, as the artist was immensely popular and appreciated by the entire French society.
From Cult Cinema to Action
The son of a sculptor and a painter, he quickly became interested in acting and studied at the Paris Conservatoire.
It rose to prominence in 1960 with the memorable “À bout de soufflé” (“At the End of the Getaway”), a film also released by director Jean-Luc Godard. There he began a series of auteur films with some of the greatest figures of the French “nouvelle obscure”, such as Godard, Claude Chabrol, François Truffaut or Louis Maley.
A good handful of cult films come from that time, such as “Un sing en hivar” (“A Monkey in the Winter”, 1962), “Pierrot le Fu” (“Pierrot the Crazy”, 1965) or “La Siren du Mississippi”. (“Mississippi Mermaid”, 1969).
With a special physique far from the stereotypes of the Hollywood heartthrob (a broken nose from his days as a boxer, wrinkles on his forehead, full lips, and a permanent smile), Belmondo quickly became an almost essential figure in French cinema.
But gradually, especially after 1965, he turned to a more commercial and adventure cinema, often with action sequences, in which he insisted on shooting himself without stuntmen under the direction of directors such as Philippe de Broca. .
These action sequences became the hallmark of “Babel”, as it was popularly known.
From that time there are films in which he has employed gangsters, adventurers or secret agents: (“L’homme de Rio” / “The Man from Rio” -1964-, “Borsalino” (1970), “La scoumaune” / “The Klan” de los Marcelles “-1972-), “Le Magnificent” / “The Magnificent” (1973), or “Leon” / “Professional” (1981).
The main awards came very late in his career. In 1989 he was the winner of César for Best Actor for “Itinere d’un enfant goethe” (although he never picked it up) and in 2016 he received the “Golden Lion of Honor” at the Venice Film Festival.
cheeky, loved by all
From 1959 to 2009, with a film career spanning half a century, Belmondo became an icon of France, where his seductively evil character, a sentimentalist with a good heart at heart, almost became part of the family.
“We all met in this,” Macron said on Twitter.
In addition, Belmondo gave the impression of authenticity. “In real life it was like in the movies,” recalled director Claude Lelouch, another great filmmaker he had worked with.
Another myth of the time, Alain Delon, who shared the bill with Belmondo in several films, but most notably in “Borsalino”, confessed to being “absolutely devastated”, as he declared to the television channel Seenews. did.
“It wouldn’t be bad if we both moved in together. It was a part of my life”, confessed 85-year-old Dylan, who shared a great friendship with Belmondo, occasionally encouraging the public’s curiosity. Disguised as a movie rivalry.
The French television network revised its programming tonight to air special editions on the actor and some of his most outstanding films.
Film historian Philip Durant, who published his biography “Belmondo” in 2011, written in collaboration with the late actor, summarized his figure: “He was more than a legend, he was Belmondo.”