France says goodbye to iconic New Wave actor Jean-Paul Belmondo in national tribute

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French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday paid a national tribute to movie giant Jean-Paul Belmondo, who died on Monday at the age of 88.

The ceremony was hosted at the Hotel des Invalides, which had been turned into an open-air cinema.

A thousand people accompanied the actor’s family and his grandchildren in their grief.

Against a backdrop showcasing some of the actor’s most iconic roles, Macron gave a eulogy speaking of the breadth of Belmondo’s career, from the New Wave genre to his action movies.

About the man who marked generations of cinema lovers, Macron said that “he was family” and “a hero with a thousand faces, whose career spanned a thousand lives, and through which we saw a bit of our own”.

“We love Jean-Paul Belmondo because he was like us. ‘A giant among giants, he was above all that man among men’ his childhood neighbour Jean-Paul Sartre said of him. ‘We admire him, he makes us laugh. Belmondo is a bit like us, only better’,” Emmanuel Macron added.

Bébel, as he was known to the French, was carried out of the courtyard to the sound of Enio Morricone’s iconic music.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Invalides to follow the rest of the ceremony on screens.

Some fans, such as Laurent, showed up hours early just to say goodbye to his idol.

“He was so humble. He was also spectacular like fireworks. We didn’t see a film with Jean-Paul, we saw Jean-Paul in a movie,” Laurent said.

“It’s a little piece of childhood that flies away so it is important to be here today,” another fan added.

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Belmondo disappeared from the public eye 15 years ago after a medical emergency left significant damage.

Watch the full video report in the player above.

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