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Raoul Coutard

Raoul Coutard

Perhaps the most famous cinematographer of the nouvelle vague, Raoul Coutard shot more than seventy-five films during his forty-three-year career. A war photographer (in Indochina) turned freelance photojournalist (his images appeared in Paris Match and Look), Coutard turned to film, hesitantly, only in the late fifties. After fumbling his way through a few film assignments (he was inexperienced with a movie camera), he was hired by producer Georges de Beauregard to shoot the debut film of a young critic named Jean-Luc Godard. His ragged, incisive shooting style on Breathless became iconic in modern cinema, and Godard kept him on board for the rest of the sixties and beyond, while other directors, like François Truffaut, Jacques Demy, Jean Rouch, and Costa-Gavras, also called upon his skills. His exacting images, which vary from rich and luxurious to gritty and documentary-like, can be seen in countless indelible films, including Shoot the Piano Player, Jules and Jim, Contempt, Alphaville, Pierrot le fou, and Z.