France pays emotional tribute to New Wave actor Belmondo

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The nation paid tribute on Thursday to screen legend Jean-Paul Belmondo, whom President Emmanuel Macron portrayed as the nation’s Everyman.

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France paid tribute on Thursday to screen legend Jean-Paul Belmondo, whom President Emmanuel Macron portrayed as the nation's Everyman in a solemn homage that drew applause and tears from fans, stars and the actor's family, reports ABC News.

The ceremony at the site of Napoleon's final resting place combined military pomp and the emotion of adoring fans. Some 1,000 were allowed inside the immense courtyard of the gold-domed Les Invalides monument, while others watched on a big screen from a lawn outside. Fans would also be able to see the coffin in a special evening viewing.

“Jean-Paul Belmondo was part of the family, a brother, cousin, uncle, seductive friend, an outstanding father ... in whom we all find a bit of our own” families, Macron said in a eulogy.

The star of the iconic French New Wave film “Breathless” died Monday aged 88. His death jolted the country into mourning for the actor whose crooked boxer's nose and rakish grin made him one of the country's most recognizable leading men.

The grief reflected Belmondo's prominent role in France’s cultural world and in its living rooms, where families gathered to watch his old films on TV.

“We loved Jean-Paul Belmondo because he resembled us,” Macron said. “Jean-Paul Belmondo was a bit (of) each of us but better.” He was the “friend everyone wanted to have," Macron said.

Recounting memorable scenes, the president reviewed Belmondo's long career — more than 80 films over six decades. The star worked with a variety of major French directors. Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 movie “Breathless” (“A Bout de Souffle” in its original French title) brought both men lasting acclaim.

Read more of this report from ABC News

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