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National tribute to actor Jean-Paul Belmondo to be held in Paris

The French film icon, nicknamed ‘Bebel’ by his fans, died on Monday at the age of 88. France will pay national tribute at Les Invalides on Thursday

Jean-Paul Belmondo on the red carpet in Cannes, 2011 Pic: Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock

Jean-Paul Belmondo, one of the last great bastions of French cinema, died at home in Paris yesterday at the age of 88 and will be remembered with a national tribute on Thursday.

The actor starred in plays including Cyrano de Bergerac and some 80 films over the course of his 50-year career, among them Jean-Luc Godard’s first feature-length work À Bout de Souffle (Breathless).

As well as being one of the earliest and more influential examples of French New Wave cinema, the film propelled him to fame.

Belmondo went on to make two further films with Godard, including A Woman is a Woman in 1961 and Pierrot Le Feu in 1965.

He also starred in François Truffaut’s 1969 Mississippi Mermaid, alongside Catherine Deneuve. It was remade as Original Sin in 2001 with Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas. 

Today, the face of Belmondo can be seen on the front of nearly every newspaper and magazine in France.

Emmanuel Macron made Jean-Paul Belmondo a grand officer of the Legion of Honour in 2019 after François Hollande made him a grand officer of the National Order of Merit in 2017.

“He will always be Le Magnifique” President Macron tweeted yesterday, referencing the actor’s 1973 film Le Magnifique (The Man from Acapulco).

Prime Minister Jean Castex also paid homage to Belmondo, describing him as “a legend of French cinema, a very important symbol of our cinematic heritage”.

“He did everything and could do everything, he trained at the Conservatoire, he had a great theatrical culture. He was unique, there was no one really like him”, director of the Cannes Film Festival, Thierry Frémaux, told franceinfo.

The Élysée Palace has announced a national tribute to the actor will be held at Les Invalides in Paris on Thursday September 9, 2021.

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