On Friday 9 September 2022, Jean-Luc Godard had one final want. He wanted a quote from Jean-Paul Sartre to finish his movie, Scénarios, however the guide was lacking from the shelf in his Swiss residence. Time was urgent: he was up in opposition to a tough deadline. The movie’s last scene was to be shot on Monday. On Tuesday, the director would die by assisted suicide.

Fabrice Aragno takes up the story. As Godard’s longtime collaborator, Aragno was his eyes and his ears, his trusted technical advisor. Certainly he would have the ability to discover the guide from someplace. “So on Friday 5.30pm, I drive very quick to Lausanne, 20 miles away,” he recollects. “I park the automotive and I’m sweating. I run to the library however the library is closed. I run to a secondhand bookshop however they don’t have the textual content. It’s out of print anyway. And I’m operating for my life. Or not my life, for Jean-Luc’s life.”

The inscrutable order; the unimaginable problem; the high-stakes caper plotline with a French thinker as its Holy Grail … if Godard’s final act feels positively Godardian in spirit, there’s a superb purpose: it was all a part of a chunk. The work was the person: intertwined, indivisible. Small marvel that his loss of life grew to become a artistic enterprise in itself. “Operating in opposition to the deadline is what Scénarios is all about,” says Aragno. “In French, you actually hear that phrase for what it means, for a way odd it’s. Deadline. It’s the road of loss of life you’re both making an attempt to outrun or to fulfill.”

Excessive-stakes caper plotline … the Swiss-born director. {Photograph}: Ronald Grant

It’s the morning after Scénarios has performed to a packed home on the Cannes movie competition. Aragno is on the town with the Iranian film-maker Mitra Farahani. The 2 had been near Godard, and curated and edited Scénarios following the nice director’s demise. The expertise has been unusual; they’re nonetheless processing their reactions. “Till yesterday this was a reside work, it was ours,” says Farahani. “Now it’s come out, it now not belongs to us. It turns into one other a part of the Godard oeuvre.”

Mystifying and mesmerising in equal measure, Scénarios stands proud as an outdated grasp’s late summary. Godard’s movie collage extrapolates on the themes he explored in Goodbye to Language and The Picture Ebook. It’s fascinated by semiotics, by the energising crossfire of textual content and footage. In the middle of a crammed 18-minute operating time, Godard juggles clips from outdated films (The Woman from Shanghai, Solely Angels Have Wings) with archive newsreel footage. However he additionally threads the soundtrack with the ominous gong-like clang of an MRI scan to implicitly acknowledge the worsening state of his well being.

Instantly after his loss of life, Godard’s household launched a press release. “He was not sick,” it stated. “He was exhausted.” What’s clear, although, is that the 91-year-old’s physique had begun to interrupt down. Farahani explains that she had satisfied him to maintain a journal of all his hospital visits. He wrote his final entry the day earlier than he died. “He wished to transcribe each element of his bodily wrestle,” she explains. “In order that the physique and the work grew to become intertwined.”

As for Sartre, he’s in there too, folded in amid the newsreels and outdated films. The sprint to the library had a contented ending in spite of everything. Lausanne lacked the guide, however Paris got here good. Aragno had a buddy scan and electronic mail the appropriate web page, in order that the film-maker may tinker with the textual content and browse it for his last scene on Monday. Scénarios reveals him sitting on the mattress, bespectacled and bare-chested. He shoots a look on the digicam. Then we minimize and he’s gone.

‘Goodbyes are meaningless’ … Fabrice Aragno and Godard engaged on Goodbye to Language in 2014. {Photograph}: Courtesy/REX/Shutterstock

Formally talking, Godard ended his life on 13 September 2022. However his movies are timeless, and to observe them is to revisit him at varied levels. As an excellent younger man, he made sensible younger movies (Breathless, Bande à Half) which had been gorgeously freestyle, shot with pure gentle and so frivolously stitched on to the ebb and stream of Paris life that they felt as if the world was merely transferring in entrance of the digicam lens.

In outdated age, he turned inward and alienated his early fanbase. The work grew to become extra intricate, insular and perplexing. However is the younger Godard so totally different from the incarnations that adopted? The person had began out as a critic. In all probability he remained one till the tip. All of his footage are playful workout routines in movie language, pulling on the elastic, looking for the place it snaps. Each movie ought to have a starting, center and finish, he as soon as stated. “However not essentially in that order.”

True to type then, that final shot of Godard on the mattress isn’t fairly goodbye. At Cannes, the finished Scénarios is adopted by a 34-minute documentary, a flashback to October 2021. It reveals the director outlining his plans for the work on a set of index playing cards. He’s white-haired and frail, however as exacting as ever. He’s discussing Prokofiev and Stravinsky. He’s juxtaposing a Russ Meyer nonetheless with a portray by Francis Bacon. Aragno says that the director’s previous couple of years may very well be exhausting. However every time the person gave the impression to be fading, he’d re-engage along with his work and appear to snap again to life. “He at all times had so many references and concepts. The entire pictures had been in his archive, his financial institution.”

“His bestiary,” says Farahani. “His bestiary,” says Aragno, smiling. “His bestiary or his forest. As a result of that’s what he was like. Not a tree however a forest. His work invitations us to maneuver via the forest from one department to the following.” This comparability stirs a reminiscence. “I bear in mind we had been strolling the canines within the forest. It was winter, I believe, however there have been nonetheless some birds singing. Jean-Luc needed to cease every now and then, as a result of he obtained drained. He regarded up on the branches and quoted a poem. He stated that birds are phrases that the bushes alternate.”

The person may very well be gnomic. Once more, that was his nature. Within the accompanying documentary, Godard explains that he needs to conclude Scénarios with “a type of mysterious absence”. Aragno, for his half, is totally unbothered by that. “Robert Bresson stated that we reside in thriller, and that thriller must be on display. And there may be one other quote that I like from [Romanian writer] Emil Cioran. He stated that each thriller turns into an issue. So we discover a resolution to unravel the issue. However the resolution solely profanes the thriller.” Much better, he thinks, to easily reside with the thriller.

Aragno labored alongside Godard for almost 20 years. He was in his early 30s when he began, and jokes that he has now develop into an outdated man himself. He served as Godard’s loyal lieutenant, his sounding board, buddy and fixer. It was Aragno who accompanied the director on the Costa Concordia, which might later run aground and partially sink, to shoot footage for 2010’s Movie Socialisme. It was Aragno who devised the 3D digicam rigs used on 2014’s Goodbye to Language. The one-time collaborator is now growing a movie of his personal primarily based on one other of Godard’s late concepts. However primarily, he says, he’s serving to to determine the Jean-Luc Godard Basis, renovating an outdated manufacturing facility within the director’s residence city of Rolle. This may function an exhibition area and archive, however principally it would present a seedbed for younger artists.

Aragno factors out that the viewers at Cannes was largely composed of scholars: twentysomethings and thirtysomethings. He’s delighted by this: it confirms what he has lengthy suspected. “I don’t like the thought of Godard being a model title, like Yves Saint Laurent,” he says. “However the younger individuals don’t care in regards to the model title of Godard. For them, it’s all in regards to the work.”

After efficiently capturing Scénarios’ final scene on Monday, Aragno knew that he needed to say goodbye. The movie was completed and the time had come. He instructed Godard he’d miss him. He shook the person’s hand and he cried. “However goodbyes are meaningless,” he says. “Goodbyes are unimaginable. That’s why the Basis is so necessary. It’s a bodily area for the work, for the younger. So no goodbyes.” Aragno slaps his bicep in defiance. “Fuck the goodbyes. He lives on and continues.”


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