It is a national monument that has just slipped away, almost on tiptoe. With infinite modesty, he had left the stage for a long time already. He, the indestructible hero of dozens of action films, had dropped to one knee in front of one of those twists of fate that knock you out, a stroke in 2001. The beating, the stuntman, the daredevil, the trompe-la-mort fought as long as he could to overcome the handicap, but was never really able to recover his leaping madness, his cheeky freshness, his puncheur niac. “You will need courage,” his mother had told him when he was a child. He never ran out.
This distance from the sets and the cameras is what, paradoxically, means that we will keep of him not the image of an old man, but that of the eternal young premier with a rebellious streak and a rascal smile. We will just remember that smile, during an endless “standing ovation” at the Cesars ceremony in 2017, it was a child’s smile, at 84 years old.
With Belmondo, he is one of the last sacred monsters of French cinema who takes his bow. The symbol of a blessed generation, that of Brigitte Bardot, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Alain Delon who must have a heavy heart today, to see their club shrivel up like sorrow.
Belmondo had made his debut in the theater, which he adored. But it is on the big screen that it will really explode. It was first in the 1960s, a revelation of the New Wave, under the leadership of Truffaut or Godard. Then the locomotive of French cinema of the 70s and 80s. “Le Magnifique”, “Le Guignolo”, “Flic ou voyou”, “L’as des as”, made us happy at the time and each television broadcast gives us a taste of those carefree years.
Grumpy, cute, flirty, daring, beguiling, combinard, courageous, franchouillard, depending on the roles, he was in fact terribly French, which is undoubtedly why he had his place in our hearts. Yesterday, he clung to the chopper that leads straight to Heaven.