Raoul Coutard, New Wave Cinematographer of ‘Breathless,’ Dies at 92

Pat Saperstein
Variety

Raoul Coutard, the renowned cinematographer who collaborated with Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut and Jacques Demy on classics of the French new wave, died Tuesday near Bayonne, France. He was 92 His death was reported by Le Figaro and AFP.

Coutard shot more than 75 films over nearly 50 years, including  iconic films such as Godard’s “Breathless” and “Contempt” and Truffaut’s “Shoot the Piano Player” and “Jules and Jim.”

Coutards’s first movie with Godard was the groundbreaking 1960 “Breathless,” shot in black and white with the hand-held camera and natural lighting he became known for. He went on to shoot films including “A Woman is a Woman,” “Band of Outsiders,” “Pierrot le Fou,” “Alphaville,” “Weekend,” “Two or Three Things I Know About Her” and later films “Passion” and “First Name: Carmen” for the iconoclastic director.

Though he often clashed with Godard, he told the Guardian in 2001 that Godard said, “‘We will shoot this film as if we were reporting a story.’ And since I was a photo-journalist, that suited me.”

In the late 1960s, Coutard shot Truffaut’s “The Bride Wore Black” and Costa-Gavras’ “Z” before making his directing debut with the Vietnamese-set “Hoa-Binh” in 1970, which was nominated for the best foreign film Oscar and won Cannes’ best first film prize.

Born in Paris, Coutard fought in the French Indochina War and then lived in Vietnam for 11 years as a war photographer and freelancer. He thought he was being hired as a still photographer on his first film, Pierre Schoendoerffer’s “La Passe du Diable.”

His last credit was for Philippe Garrel’s 2001 film “Wild Innocence.”

Related stories

Cannes' Unveils Official Poster, With Nod to Jean-Luc Godard

Classic French Films Continue to Influence Popular Fashion

Cannes Film Review: 'Hitchcock/Truffaut'

Get more from Variety and Variety411: Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Newsletter