Paul, the actor’s eldest son, asked the general delegate of the Cannes Film Festival to pay tribute to his father. A text read this Friday during the funeral of the actor, which we deliver in full.
“When you asked me, Paul, to say a few words this morning, that you did me the honor, I was overcome with emotion and dread. How can I, in turn, evoke the one that everyone has been talking about so magnificently for several days and about which everyone has spoken so magnificently for a long time. From an artist whom the Republic has honored, he, the dunce, the undisciplined pupil, the rebellious boy to whom the patrol of France has paid a double homage in this Paris sky which belonged to him.
But after having said our sadness, sadness at having loved and losing someone who will no longer be, we should probably also say our pride, that of having known him, of having accompanied him a little and of us are held by his side. Pride and joy mixed, besides so much the moments spent together were only a series of giggles: we can all testify here, testify that in terms of parties and laughs, his temperament was… respectable.
Jean-Paul, all these years, it was never the actor and even less the star, it was the friend, in the midst of his family, it was the man, facing the storms.
This guy will never have done anything like the others, and from the start. Arise in the world of cinema by saying in front of the camera: “If you don’t like the sea, if you don’t like the mountains, if you don’t like the city… fuck yourself!” “, it was signing with Godard one of the most beautiful lines in history, it was accepting the risk of a film that was unlike any other, it was to immediately seize what life offers you and a role that says what you will be. This “Screw you” beautifully, it was also a way of making sure that we don’t piss you off and not many of them have risked it, pissing off Jean-Paul Belmondo. Besides : “Piss off Jean-Paul Belmondo”, the idea itself seems improbable.
What he was, Jean-Paul was without calculation, without weakness and without arrogance. And each time, more himself than ever. And this itself, unique, never seen before will have seduced everywhere as it was irresistible. Since Monday, testimonies have been pouring in and in Cannes, I will have received a lot, messages from Asia and America, testimony of a grief that quickly became global. Like Spike Lee, for whom Jean-Paul was a hero, and who asked me to tell his family – which I am doing here.
A hero, yes, but Jean-Paul was above all an exemplary son, brother, father, grandfather. Yesterday, this band of young people seizing the courtyard of the Invalides so moved, so struck by the link that the “grandpa” had with them. It was good, children, the world is yours now and this grandfather and this father, yours Stella, leaves you with a huge legacy.
“We can even continue to say to our children, and to our children’s children: ” You know, we lived at a time when, on Wednesdays, Jean-Paul Belmondo films came out ””
Jean-Paul will have been a friend too, friendship at home never departing from the fidelity and the requirement that go with it and which build an existence where there remains a certainty: when we are at peace, when we watch over people. others, when we go towards this accomplishment, your presence in the world is never useless. Jean-Paul left in peace, his presence in the world will not have been useless. He will have been part of this sacred generation, with Brigitte Bardot, Jeanne Moreau, Catherine Deneuve and Alain Delon, who is there this morning, his brother in arms whose friendship has repeatedly demonstrated was the one that united French cinema. A generation that alternated auteur cinema and mainstream films, which embodied their country and which the whole world watched. “You like women, don’t you?” Jacqueline Bisset asked him. “I do not know”, he replied, looking at his muscles like a fop he never was. Of course he appealed to women, that’s how we used to say at the time, to please women. He appealed to men too, by the way.
That was Belmondo life. “Belmoooondoooo, it’s a verb!”, affirmed Quentin Tarantino who reinvented in Lyon the principle of homage by making the one he returned to Jean-Paul in Lyon the yardstick of a magnificent sport: admiration. Belmondo, it’s a party too, the “Belmondo life”, it was a lot of things, it could become a song by Vincent Delerm or Alain Souchon. But if we know Belmondo’s life, because we’ve lived it, life without Belmondo, we still don’t know what it will be like. Here, we have all, except his brother Alain, born two years before him, had an existence where Jean-Paul was present. He was there all the time, once we discovered him, we loved him instantly, at Lelouch or at Resnais, at Oury or at Deray. We can even continue to say to our children, and to our children’s children: “You know, we lived at a time when, on Wednesdays, Jean-Paul Belmondo films came out. ” Pride, I told you.
We could already write a “I remember” only dedicated to Jean-Paul. I remember the loneliness of Léon Morin, the priest, or Louis Mahé, the fallen lover of The Mississippi Mermaid. I remember Ferdinand declaiming History of Art by Élie Faure, who sang Your hip line in a few dance steps, who approaches with humanity a desperate man who speaks to himself, I especially remember Jean-Paul Belmondo looking at Raymond Devos with affection, because he was a man and an actor who took care of his elders. I remember a son devoted to his father, I remember the one who loved boxing and football, great restaurants and good jokes, not the other way around: good restaurants and great jokes. I remember and each will complete. I remember his Palme d’Or in Cannes where he agreed to come back, with the photographers who put their cameras on the red carpet because they wanted to have their hands free to applaud and, like everyone else, to cry with emotion. seeing him come back and welcome him, I remember that at the Lumière festival, when he had more than fifty meters to cover to reach his chair, he decided to face the gaze of 5,000 people, to stay upright, to walk , to show that the most beautiful fight is the one you fight against yourself. It was a few minutes before Tarantino said that Jean-Paul had invented the “Supercoolerie” : he had just demonstrated it again, and smiling. Walk and not stop, laugh and run away, love then fly away, like this morning.
Now at “I remember” will succeed the “I will not forget”. I will not forget Belmoooondooo. We will not forget you, Jean-Paul.