He has lensed over 75 films over the course of a career that lasted nearly half a century.
Coutard shot nearly all of Godard's work in the Nouvelle Vague era (1959 - 1967), with the notable exception of Masculin, féminin ; their last work during this period was Week End (1967), which marked the end of Godard's work as a "mainstream" filmmaker. The two did not work together again until Passion; their final collaboration was Godard's next feature, Prénom Carmen.
During the Nouvelle Vague period, Coutard's work with Godard fell into two categories: black and white films, which were all shot full frame, and color films, which were all shot in Cinemascope. The black and white films, which were mostly made on lower budgets, are notable for their use of hand-held camera work and natural lighting, which lends them an unpolished quality. This "loose" style of shooting is what is most associated with the Godard-Coutard collaboration, because it does not appear in Godard's collaborations with any other cinematographers. Though many of the color films, especially early ones like Une Femme est une femme (1961), feature handheld shooting, Godard's increased use of color also saw an increased focus on immobile and tracking shots.
In 1970, Coutard wrote and directed his first feature film, Hoa Binh, for which he won the Prix Jean Vigo and an award at the Cannes Film Festival. The film was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Coutard shot two more features over the course of the next fifteen years: La Légion saute sur Kolwezi in 1980 and S.A.S. à San Salvador in 1983. Coutard's cinematographer on all of his features was Georges Liron, who had been his frequent camera operator during his collaboration with Godard and with whom he'd served as co-cinematographer on the documentary Rocky Road to Dublin.
As a cinematographer, Coutard was less active in 1970s than the 1960s. When he reunited with Godard in 1982, Coutard had shot only 7 films in a the last decade, with 5 of them in 1972-73. After the two Godard collaborations, he began working more frequently again.
Godard's lovely 'Things' returns, undiminished: `Two or Three ThingsI Know About Her' (star)(star)(star)(star).
Feb 23, 2007; Byline: Michael Wilmington Feb. 23Two or Three Things I Know About Her" is one of the most beautiful films of the young Jean-Luc...