Director Jean-Luc Godard, a pioneer of French New Wave film who revolutionised popular 1960s cinema, has died at the age of 91, according to reports.

Multiple French media outlets confirmed that they had learned the news of Godard's passing from his relatives on Tuesday.

Born into a wealthy French-Swiss family on December 3 1930 in Paris, the ingenious "enfant terrible" stood for years as one of the world’s most vital and provocative directors in Europe and beyond - beginning in 1960 with his celebrated debut feature, Breathless.

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The movie stars Jean-Paul Belmondo as a penniless young thief who models himself on Hollywood movie gangsters and who, after he shoots a police officer, goes on the run to Italy with his American girlfriend, played by Jean Seeberg.

Like François Truffaut's equally venerated The 400 Blows, released in 1959, Godard’s film set the new tone for French movie aesthetics. Godard rejected conventional narrative style and instead used frequent jump-cuts that mingled philosophical discussions with action scenes.

Jean-Luc Godard (right) with fellow celebrated French director Jean Renoir

He spiced it all up with references to Hollywood gangster movies, and nods to literature and visual art.

His films propelled Jean-Paul Belmondo to stardom and his controversial modern nativity play Hail Mary grabbed headlines when Pope John Paul II denounced it in 1985.

In a 2002 Sight & Sound poll, the cinema bible ranked Godard third in the critics' top ten directors of all time. This poll was put together by assembling the directors of the individual films for which the critics voted.