Actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, one of the biggest stars of French cinema and whose charismatic smile lit up the screen for half a century, has died at his home in Paris at the age of 88.
Taking care of his devil, Belmondo’s poster boy. New wave, James Dean and Humphrey Bogart of France became irreplaceable men.
With his boxer’s body and broken nose, his restless infidelity resonated with the French cinema that broke the mold of the 1960s.
Director Jane Lock Goddard.In his breakout roll, Belmondo is cast as a ruined thug who falls in love with Jane Seiberg’s pixie-like American in “Breathless” (1961) in Paris.
The film shocked critics and audiences around the world and, with Francois Trafot’s “The 400 Blues,” changed cinema history.
In 1964, Time magazine named Belmondo the face of modern France.
He said, “The tricolor, a sniffer of the conch, a shining ham – they have been transformed into secondary symbols of France.”
“The main symbol is a picture of a young man leaning on a cafe chair.
The attention of a boxer.
Despite this, Belmondo was far from an intelligent intellectual and spent most of his career in male roles that were played out on his raw sexual appeal.
Despite making a name for himself as a charming gangster, the actor grew up on the outskirts of bourgeois Paris, the son of the famous sculptor Paul Belmondo, Neville Sur-Sen.
Born in 1933, he performed poorly at school during the war but was a talented boxer, winning three straight one-round knockouts in a short amateur career.
He then trained at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Art.
In 1957, his first move to the cinema in the forgotten comedy “On Fit, Horse and On Wheels” ended on the floor of the cutting room.
But the unshakable Belmondo worked with some of the most talented directors of his generation, making all three films with Goddard, and then with Trafford, Elaine Resnance, Louis Male and Jean-Pierre Melville.
Turft called him the “complete European actor” of his generation.
Charming women were often cast opposite glamorous women, from Catherine Deneuve and Sofia Lorraine to Claudia Cardinal in the parade romp “Cartouch”, and she constantly reinvented her role in various roles.
But since the 1970s, he has made more action-packed action films in which he has done his own stunts.
Social films and tours such as “Swords of Blood” (1962) and Oscar-nominated “That Man to Rio” (1964) introduced Belmondo to a host of new audiences around the world.
“It’s like life. One day you’ll laugh, the next day you’ll cry,” he said, enjoying a mix of art house and more box office friendly rents.
Belmondo briefly – and even forgot – two English-language films in the Atlantic, “Is Paris Burning?” In 1966 and the fake James Bond “Casino Royale” a year later.
Belmondo experimented with more mature dramatic characters in the 1980s, winning the French Oscar, Caesar, about the founder of a circus in 1988 for Claude Lelouch’s “Journey of a Perverted Child”.
But he turned down the prize because the painter, Caesar Baldacini, had once defamed his father’s work.
Twice married and twice divorced, she lived with former Bond actress Arsola Anders for seven years. Belmondo had four children, including racing driver Paul Belmondo. The youngest was born in 2003 when he was 70 years old.
His eldest daughter, Patricia, died in a 1994 fire.
He suffered a stroke while on vacation in Corsica in 2001, which affected his speech, which led to a storm of love for the actor.
He effectively ended Belmondo’s career, even though he made one last touching film as an old man whose only consolation was his dog.
His last relationship with former playboy model Barbara Gandolfi, his 42-year junior, ended in a scandal in 2012 when he was found guilty of cheating the actor out of 200,000 euros.
But in 2016, the Venice Film Festival awarded him the Golden Lion for his lifetime achievement.
“I never think about my past,” he told reporters there. “Forward, forward, forward.”
(France 24 with AFP)