cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values

FILM KIESLOWSKI Krzysztof Kieślowski’s escape from documentaries

Blog post from thizz.face.disco, with excerpts from “The Parallax View” by Slavoj Žižek and quotes from Kieślowski

Krzysztof Kieślowski’s escape from documentaries

October 28, 2010 Posted by | Kieslowski, Krzysztof Kieślowski, Slavoj Žižek, Zizek | , , , | Leave a comment

FILM The Making of Last Year in Marienbad

At La Règle du Jeu lit review:

The Making of Last Year in Marienbad

45 minute film by German director Volker Schlöndorff (himself an assistant on the film) from 8 mm footage shot on the set of Alain Renais’ film by a member of the cast, Francoise Spira. Schlöndorff narrates.

Included on the page is Richard Brody’s short piece from the New Yorker blog The Front Row.

October 16, 2010 Posted by | Alain Renais, Last Year in Marienbad | , , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM VIDEO Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du Cinéma

stills from the opening seconds of Chapter 1A – Histoire[s] du Cinema

Cinema is a sign, and its signs are amongst us

Jean-Luc Godard
In JLG by JLG vol II, edited by Alan Bergala

The cinema is not an art which films life: the cinema is something between art and life. Unlike painting and literature, the cinema both gives to life and takes from it, and I try to render this concept in my films. Literature and painting both exist as art from the very start; the cinema doesn’t.” –

Jean-Luc Godard

I need a day to tell the history of a second, a year to tell the history of a minute, a lifetime to tell the history of a day.

Jean-Luc Godard

….a history of cinema and a history of the twentieth century, each inside the other.

John Howe

My Histoire(s) du Cinema starts with a chapter called ‘Toutes les Histoires‘, a lot of small stories in which signs can be seen. It then goes on to say that this story is alone – the only story that has ever been. Then – you know my immoderate ambition – I say: not only is it alone, but it is the only one that will ever be and that has ever been (after, it will not be a story but something else). It is my mission to tell it.”
Jean-Luc Godard

Histoire(s) du Cinéma 1988–98 is a powerful and visually stunning critique of cinema and its relationship to the other arts, as well as a reflexive analysis of the director’s life and work. Originally commissioned for European television, the production spans ten years and includes eight episodes (of a proposed ten) in four chapters.

The project began in 1988 and emerged from a series of lectures Godard delivered at the University of Montreal in 1978. In these lectures, Godard presented an analysis of his own films alongside others, juxtaposing imagery with additional references to painting, newsreels and television. The project also bears the marks of Godard’s early film criticism published in Cahiers du Cinéma. Central to the project is Godard’s ongoing concern with the politics and materiality of filmmaking — for example, the process of editing, which Godard conceives as analogous to the act of lying. Godard reacts against the simple conventions of editing, continually juxtaposing and superimposing images in montages that search for truth and meaning in cinematic imagery. Godard famously asserted, ‘If directing is a gaze, editing is a heartbeat’.{}


Cinema : The Archaeology of film and the memory of a century
Jean Luc Godard, Youssef Ishaghpour, John Howe

Undeniably a work of enormous scope, Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoires du cinéma eludes easy definition. An extended essay on cinema by means of cinema. A history of the cinema, and history interpreted by the cinema. An homage and a critique. An anecdotal autobiography, illuminated by Godard’s encyclopedic wit, extending the idiom established by JLG par JLG. An epic – and non-linear – poem. A freely associative essay. A vast multi-layered musical composition. Histoires du cinéma is all of these. It is above all, a work made by a man who loves and is fascinated by the world of film.

from DVD review at

Histoire(s) du cinéma is Jean-Luc Godard’s most devastating accomplishment as filmmaker/critic/artist/poet/historian. Produced over a period of ten years (1988-1998), Histoire(s) has been heralded as a work of tremendous significance to the practice of both cinema and history; most famously by Jonathan Rosenbaum, who declared it to be “the culmination of 20th century film-making” (1). Whilst not technically a film, Histoire(s) undoubtedly represents the ultimate labour of cinephilic love, an intensive audio-visual retrospective ruminating on the multiple incarnations of cinema, its vital intersections with 20th century history and ultimately, its immanent death, as projected by the medium’s most studied, critically devoted and playfully intellectual independent figure.

Alifeleti Brown in Senses of Cinema

It is possible to hate half or two-thirds of what Godard does – or find it incomprehensible – and still be shatered by his brilliance

Pauline Kael

For any one interested in film, Godard is important; for any one interested in Godard, Histories(s) is important.

Who said that?


Two sets of YouTubes of Chapter 1A and 1B:

Histoires[s]du Cinema Chapter1A – Toutes les Histoires (All the Histories) -1/6

Histoire[s]du Cinema Chapter1B – Une Histoire seule 1/5


wiki: Histoire(s) du Cinema
– lists the individual programmes and films mentioned.


La « partition » des Histoire(s) du cinéma
Jean-Luc Godard

by Céline Scemama

A tabulation of Histoire [s]. E.g. page 1:

Open the graphic in another tab – it will be a easier to read.


“I always begin with ideas and that doesn’t help with the audience.”
Jean Luc Godard interviewed by Scott Kraft – Cigar Afficianado Magazine sept/Oct 1997


These five short essays/reviews summarise succinctly what is going on in this video series:

After the Movies Michael Wood, London Review of Books, 4 December 2008

Histoire(s) du cinéma by Alifeleti Brown in Senses of Cinema

Despite the diffuse gesture of Histoire(s), it might be argued that its central motivation is to collapse the cinema from within by way of an exhaustive process of reflexive audio-visual evocation and deliberation, a post-cinematic montage that implicitly situates the cinema as an archive of a bygone era.

Histoire(s) du Cinéma
By David Pratt-Robson
(2007 review of the Region 2 DVD in Stylus Magazine)

The Man With The Magnétoscope – Jean-Luc Godard’s monumental
Histoire(s) du cinéma as SoundImageTextBook

by Alexander Horwath/ Translation by Aileen Derieg

-Written in 1998 to mark the arrival of CD / book of Histoire[s] with audio of filmtext in German, French and English and a selelction of stills.

The Histoire(s) are always everything at once: moving image, photography, catalogue of paintings, pixel mutation, music, noise, fragment of film sound, speaking voice, writing in the image, literature quarry, essay text. They are sensation and knowledge, information and emotion, theory and practice of the cinema, writing the history and telling the stories. The Histoire(s) are less and, at the same time, more than a Gesamtkunstwerk, because they were never intended to be “a totality” and never “only” an artwork.

For Ever Godard #31 Srikanth Srinivasan in The Seventh Art


Notes in Histoires[s] du cinema Chapter1A – Toutes les Histoires (All the Histories) -1/6 put up by ‘pimpimbulldog’ (aka maths teacher Bogdan from Romania). Pasted here in full (hope he doesn’t mind):

Histoire(s) du cinéma is a video project begun by Jean-Luc Godard in the late 1980s and completed in 1998. Histoire means both “history” and “story,” and the s in parentheses gives the possibility of a plural. Therefore, the phrase Histoire(s) du cinéma simultaneously means The History of Cinema, The Histories of Cinema, The Story of Cinema and The Stories of Cinema.Is an examination of the history of the concept of cinema and how it relates to the 20th century; in this sense, it can also be considered a critique of the 20th century and how it perceives itself. The project is considered the major work of the late period of Godard’s career; it is alternately described as an essay and a poem.

If one wants to be up to the minute about cinema, there’s no cause to be concerned that Histoire[s] du cinéma has been in production for at least nine years — after having been sketched our rather differently, in the form of an illustrated lecture series given in Montreal, a decade prior to that. (2) After all, James Joyces Finnegans Wake, the artwork to which Histoire(s) du cinéma seems most comparable, written between 1922 and 1939, was first published in 1939, but if one read it for the first time this year, one would still be ahead of most people in literary matters. For just as Finnegans Wake figuratively situates itself at some theoretical stage after the end of the English language as we know it — from a vantage point where, inside Joyces richly multilingual, pun-filled babble, one can look back at the 20th century and ask oneself, What was the English language? Godards babbling magnum opus similarly projects itself into the future in order to ask, What was cinema?

Joyce’s province was the history of mankind as perceived through language and vice versa, both experienced and recapitulated through a single, ordinary night of sleep — that is to say, through dreams. Only superficially more modest, Godards province is the 20th century as perceived through cinema and vice versa, both experienced and recapitulated through technology — that is to say, through video. Clips and soundtracks are examined and juxtaposed — partly through the ordinary operations of a video watcher (fast forward, slow motion, freeze frame, muting, and programming) and partly through more sophisticated techniques like editing, sound mixing, captioning, and superimposition. Finnegans Wake considers both the English language and the 20th century as something thats over, and in the same way Histoire(s) du cinéma treats both the 20th century and the history of cinema as something thats liquidated, finished. (This isn’t entirely a new position for Godard. In January, 1965, responding to a questionnaire in Cahiers du cinéma which inquired, What do you think of the immediate and the long-range future of the French cinema? Are you optimistic, pessimistic, or do you have a Lets wait and see attitude?, he replied, I await the end of Cinema with optimism. This is one of the reasons why, to my mind, the fact that Histoire(s) du cinéma is a video is of enormous importance, because video in certain respects is the graveyard of cinema, and its also the graveyard of the history of the 20th century — or at least of the popular perception of that history. (Cogito ergo vidéo reads a title at the beginning of chapter 1b.)


Ph.D. thesis:
Jean-Luc Godard and the Other History of Cinema


Douglas Morrey

University of Warwick Department of French Studies (2002)

Morrey runs through Histoire[s] in detail as one would for a thesis. But quotes are in the original French, untranslated in footnotes.

This is the second PhD linked to from the long list in Film Studies for Free.

Morrey p. 9 :

Godard’s argument in Histoire(s) du Cinema is this that, if montage granted a new way of seeing, it should also have led to a new way of thinking, yet somehow failed to do so.

Other writing by Douglas Morrey

GoogleBooks, Jean-Luc Godard [2005], from A Manchester University Press series, French Film Directors, and an essay, Bodies that Matter, reviewing a book of essays, Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture by Vivian Sobchack [2004].

Academic papers/reviews/essays/blog posts on Historie[s]

Tony McKibbin in Experimental Conversations, Cork Film Centre’s Online Journal: The Butterfly Effect: High Mimetics in Godard’s Histoire[s] du Cinema.
5 stars for usefulness. if you were wondering what this death of film was all about, this at the end of the essay is reassuring:

As Nicole Brenez astutely noted in her contribution to a piece called ‘Movie Mutations’, printed in Film Quarterly and elsewhere, “the death of cinema merely represented a grand melancholy theme that certain filmmakers needed in order to make their films”. Perhaps this is true of no film more than Histoire(s) du cinéma. But does its death not give birth to poetry, perhaps rather like a caterpillar that turns into a butterfly?

Trailer for Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma Jonathan Rosenbaum

Le Vrai Coupable: Two Kinds of Criticism in Godard’s Work

Jonathan Rosenbaum

Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma
“Memory of the world” (a lecture)

Laleen Jayamanne August 2007

Histoire[s] du Cinema by Gray Daisies

[1] Introduction à une véritable histoire du cinéma: lectures given by Godard at Montreal Film School before Histoire[s] was completed.
[2] Histoire(s) du cinéma

Histoire(s) Du Cinema: A Requiem for Cinema

Histoire(s) du Cinema (1988-1998, Jean-Luc Godard)
Post from Brandon’s Movie Memories. Brief comments on chapters 1-4 under headings, with a beautiful still in each which help to remind us that films are primarily about the excitment of the visual. And yet Godard’s Histoire[s] is loaded with words!

Difficult work in a popular medium: Godard on ‘Hitchcock’s method’
Rick Warner
First Published in Critical Quarterly Vol 51, Issue 3, pages 63-84 October 2009

On Painting and History in Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma (1)
by Sally Shafto

More Montage Necessary John Lingen – Review of Richard Brody;s Everything is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard

…..the progression of Godard’s anti-American rage has the all the overextended illogic of a scorned lover. In his six-hour series Histoire(s) du Cinéma, completed throughout the 90s, he proposed his thesis that cinematic history be divided into two periods: pre-1945, when the art form was honest; and post-1945, when America (and by proxy Hollywood) became the arbiter of cultural taste, subsequently squandering the opportunity to address the concentration camps in an aesthetically honest way. For Godard, no movie properly addressed Auschwitz when it was most necessary, and therefore the art form was doomed.

Other sources

Critique of Godard by Rancière mentioned in Morrey’s Ph.D. thesis:

The Saint and the Heiress: A propos of Godard’s: Histoire(s) du cinéma
Jacques Rancière

Discourse; Winter 2002; 24, 1; ProQuest Education Journals

Mundane Hybrids: Rancière Against the Sublime Image
Ted Kafala

– Explains Ranciere of Godard in part.

The French film critic Serge Daney plays a part in Histoire[s] and has written about Godard in general. There are a few translations into English such as this selection, The Godard paradox, taken from the Book Forever Godard. Blog: Serge Daney in English.

Jean-Luc Godard’s Myspace page has a many Godard photographs and Craig Keller’s essay on Godard originally in Senses of Cinema.

Cinema : The Archaeology of film and the memory of a century
Jean Luc Godard, Youssef Ishaghpour, John Howe
GoogleBook (Intoduction by John Howe)
2000. English translation 2005

From La Nouvelle Vague to Histoire[s] du Cinema – History in Godard, Godard in History
Colin Nettelbeck

An Audio Visual Brain: Towards a Digital Image of Thought in Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoires[s] du Cinema
by Pasi Valiaho

Le Gai Savoir: Godard and Eisenstein—notions of intellectual cinema
by Ruth Perlmutter
from Jump Cut, no. 7, 1975, pp. 17-19
Although dealing with a specific other Godard film, this adds to our understanding of what we have with Histoire[s].

Images in Spite of All – 4 Photographs from Auschwitz
George Did-Huberman
(English translation: Shane B Lillis)

Eisenstein’s Montage Theories

Editing: The Heart of Film – An Introduction To Film Editing
Click on Theory.

Sergei Eisenstein and the Montage [pdf]

Wiki: Soviet Montage Theory

Brakhage and the Theory of Montage – Victor Grauer

Introduction to Montage – a post from blog Understanding Media

Bigue’s Editing Notes

The Challenge of the Vertical Montage -Essay by Henrik Juel

Film editing and Montage pages from
Awfully set out, old-fashioned mixed font, mixed colour pages the way How to Design Good Website manuals say not to do it, but there is simply explained basics in there.

Battleship Potemkin by Christian Blauvelt, Slate Magazine, 19 April 2010
Andrew Sarris is quoted:

“The totalitarians of the Left embraced Eisenstein and montage as the first step toward brainwashing humanity, but the cinema quickly lent its manipulative social powers to television. The cinema returned to formal excellence, abandoning the salvation of mankind as the criterion of cinema.”

Wiki: Room 666

YouTube of Godard’s Room 666

La Geo-politique de l’mage dans les Historie[s] du cinema de Jean-Luc Godard
by Junji Hori

– 19 page .pdf, arguing Godard’s take is arrogantly Euro-centric. Others have said the same thing. He also dismisses British film.

Jean-Luc Godard – Short biography and filmography

Jean Luc-Godard page in They Shoot Pictures, Don’t Thye?

The Misery and Splendors of Cinema – Godard’s Moments Choisis des Histoire(s) du Cinéma

– Review by Robert Kesler of the 87 minute version of Histoire[s]

Soft and Hard: Intimations insinuations implications

Rod Stoneman in Kinema relates his collaboration with Godard and Anne-Miéville in the making ofA Soft Conversation between Two Friends on a Hard Subject (1985), a film commissioned by CH4, in which he quotes some of the dialogue (Mieville comparing his work and approach to hers, for example) and shows how ideas in Histoires[s] were already there. But more importantly describes Godard’s imperatives and a little bit about the man himself.

Moments Choisis des Histoire(s) du Cinema
by Keith Uhlich

The director himself has suggested that every cut is a lie; Godard’s approach, then, is the continual juxtaposition and superimposition of “lies” in an ongoing search for truth. Thus, Moments mimics the workings of its creator’s mind: one thought, one reference leads inexorably to others, sight and sound mirroring the inherently questioning nature of the human soul.

when speaking of television’s detrimental effects on cinema, Godard lives down to the disheveled old fuddy-duddy persona that he physically embodies on-screen. Making grand pronouncements from his back-alley soapbox, the director panders to the death-of-cinema acolytes, those faddish doomsday prophets who latched onto the kernel of a good idea (for television has certainly had its adverse effects) and perverted it into an infallible truth of Leviticus.

“The film we had imagined”, or: Anna and Jean-Luc Go To the Movies

by Adrian Danks

Deals with films within films in Godard and generally, though doesn’t mention Histoire[s]

Methods of Détournement by Guy-Ernest Debord

Détournement as Negation and Prelude Situationist International 1959

For a Revolutionary Judgment of Art Guy Debord 1961
Really only for this:

“….an alteration of “the present forms of culture” depends on the production of works that offer people “a representation of their own existence.”

M.A. Thesis by Farris Wahbeh:

Forget Godard: The Cinematic Abductions of Pier Paolo Pasolini and Guy Debord

{1} Intro

{2} Chapter 1: Pasolini’s Lingua X

{3} Chapter 2: Becoming-street: In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni as cinematic dérive

There have been dissenting voices from the beginning of Godard’s career as a film-maker, as exemplified by the ‘statement’, The Role of Godard, issued by The Situationist International in 1966. Clearly they hadn’t got the whole of his film and video oeuvre at that time, but you get the idea with such phrases as “…the Club Med of modern thought”.

‘No Trickery with Montage’: On Reading a Sequence in Godard’s
Pierrot le fou
Daniele Morgan – Film Studies Issue 5 Winter 2004

Between Sound and Space blog review of ECM soundtrack of Histoire[s]

October 8, 2010 Posted by | Alfred Hitchcock, André Malraux, film [its techniques], French cinema, Godard, Jean-Luc Godard, Pudovkin, Rancière | , , , , | Leave a comment