Before The Bond Babes, There Were The Godard Girls

Photo: Jacques Haillot/Apis/Sygma/Sygma/Getty Images.
In case you haven't noticed, movie heroines are trending (again). See: Gal Gadot's turn as Wonder Woman that grossed over $820 million worldwide, or just take a look at any of the hottest shows on television right now — more than half of them with female leads. But, as we know, not all heroes wear capes. And, alongside the less fantastical breeds of superheroes, like, say the Bond babes or Buffy era ass-kicking mavens, female protagonists have long rocked the international landscape, too. Introducing: the Godard Girls.
What the French director's chosen film heroines lack in crime fighting accoutrements they make up for in emotional superiority to their male counterparts — and a mean punch of French style that's had global impact decades over. Sure, we talk about French girl style as if it's, well, going out of style — but it's that very obsession that makes their contributions that influential, and everlasting. In other words, the monikers Birkin and Bardot aren't household names for nothing.
But therein lies many more stars of Godard's lens: Marlene Jobert, Anna Karina, Jean Seberg, and more have influenced how we few French style, their seemingly unattainable joie de vivre (at least for Americans), and the mystique of French culture in general. What sets a Jean-Luc Godard actress apart from, say, those of the Hollywood brand, is that their characters were never rooted in aesthetics — the fashion and beauty stuff came after. Instead, through films like Breathless and Masculin Féminin, we know that an onscreen presence can be just as personal as off — even dressed in jeans and a tee.
Godard himself believed his films weren't complete without women, and as he told Rolling Stone in 1969, "I don't think you should feel about a film. You should feel about a woman, not a movie. You can't kiss a movie." It's doubly true, then, that while we're moved by clothes, we shan't forget the superwomen in them.

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