(AFP) – France will pay a national tribute Thursday to Jean-Paul Belmondo, one of the most popular figures in cinema, at the end of a career that has left memories for all spectators, from New Wave lovers to amateurs of action movies.
The actor’s death on Monday at the age of 88 brought mourning to a country that is losing a familiar figure, embodying talent, daring and recklessness.
The Elysée announced on Tuesday the holding of this ceremony at the Invalides. It was originally intended for the military, but has been extended to civilians who have marked their time.
The President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron had qualified Monday this extremely beloved actor of “national treasure, all in panache and in bursts of laughter, the loud verb and the quick body”.
“He will forever remain The Magnificent (…) In him, we all found ourselves,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot indicated on Monday evening that the Belmondo family was discussing with the presidency the modalities of this tribute. “I don’t think there is an actor who has created such proximity between him and the French,” she said on BFMTV.
The press bowed Tuesday to this figure who was unanimous, thanks to the extent of his repertoire, his communicative smile and his ease in all possible roles.
– “Give yourself without counting” –
Laurent Bodin, editorial writer for L’Alsace, describes him as “Marianne’s eternal fiancé”. According to him, “from drama to comedy, from action film to thriller, Jean-Paul Belmondo rebounded with the ease of a stuntman. It is because he knew how to give himself without counting”.
“This cheeky and sentimental cop and thug whose face represents the New Wave like popular cinema served as a coat rack for all the costumes in the repertoire”, comments Liberation. In one, his black and white photo, cigarillo in the mouth: “La vie Bébel”.
Le Parisien, with a color photo, salutes “Le Magnifique”. “He will have given of his person. The helicopters, the ropes, the cars, the roof of the metro … nothing will ever have prevented this bird from going faster and stronger in the risk”, recalls the daily.
“For nearly sixty years, he offered French genre cinema a body, a face and a voice – an unparalleled presence”, according to Le Monde.
– “A part of my life” –
Eternal young first, lover of stunts who experienced some physical glitches, Jean-Paul Belmondo was the last of the actors of the “band of the Conservatory”, slinging students of the Conservatory of the 1950s who have disappeared in turn over the past four years: Jean Rochefort, Claude Rich, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Jean-Pierre Mocky, Guy Bedos.
Another legendary actor, three years younger, Alain Delon said on Monday that he was “completely devastated” to have lost this friend: “It’s a part of my life, we started together 60 years ago”.
Belmondo was for decades a headliner that guaranteed success in theaters, after making a resounding debut in 1960’s “Breathless”, a legendary New Wave film.
The general public retains its roles in action films and thrillers regularly broadcast on television, such as “The Man from Rio” (1963), “Peur sur la ville” (1975) or “The Professional” (1981) , programmed on France 2 Tuesday evening.
“Now, when I watch these stunts, I tell myself that I was unconscious,” he confided in 2017. But he took advantage of every moment, he who had first believed he had to make a career in the theater: “I have always worked for fun (…) I never imagined becoming a movie star “.