cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values


A member of a Godard forum I subscribe to wonders if anyone has a date for this photograph.

It’s probably the most well-known, iconic photograph of Godard. Dark glasses, fag (Gitaine or Galois?). Looking at 24 frames or so. Not in a second though.

If you know Godard it has to be the 60s during the New Wave. Would there be many of him before this?

If you looked at the photo alone – epoché prior knowledge – just the image: age, hair style and glasses. I’d go for personal history of specs. When did he start and stop wearing those. Many years? Did they break and he had to buy another pair? Or did he put them away in a draw or an old glasses case? Are they just shades or prescription? That and looking for other versions of the same photograph. Is this a cropped version?

The date question wasn’t mine. I thought I could find a date quickly and did, 1960, though what I discovered at the bottom of another copy of this photograph, doesn’t guarantee it’s correct – looking so intently at versions of this photograph made me wonder if it was posed. Let’s have a look to see if there are any other versions. Is it the only one or were others taken at the same time? Was it perhaps an impromptu photograph taken by a hanger on or something he orchestrated for publicity?

Does he look as if he might put you straight on these questions?

Does he look here as if he is going to put a date on anything? You might get a divertimento on time discipline.

He looks suspiciously like a contented blind man. You take a photograph. He hears the click. He smiles. You take another. There is that strange slanting of the shoulder: is that the slant of the smoker as he knocks his cigarette on the ash-tray?

You know the kind of thing: black glasses, white stick – tapping down the street. Curb edges. Street light poles. Other pedestrians politely getting out of the way so he can find the familiar objects he uses to guide himself. Getting on a bus first. Even ladies give up their seat on le Metro. Get the girl: you can’t see whether she’s beautiful or not, its all in the voice. Or vice versa.

I decided to help find the date of the photo using Google Images. It’s not very difficult. Instead of looking for websites using Wordy Google, find images and then work from the images to the website in which it’s embedded. Often it’s a route to aspects of the topic you’re interested in that might not have come up on a ordinary search. I’m visually orientated, so a diagram of something is always my first port of call before tackling an explanation.

What shall we look up as an example. Say serotonin. Familiar word but not much idea what it is. Brain for sure. But lets Google Images: serotonin.

Ah what’s that knobbly picture, looks interesting.

This Godard spec fag pic has the hand holding the film missing. To me that’s the most interesting bit. In the first photo, it’s easy to see he uses his thumb and index finger through which he will pull the film strip. Why would someone cut that piece off?

Strange how you can set off on one journey and end up on another.

Hair is always the give away. Though who knows. Can Godard remember? Who took it would be interesting. My guess is there is only one of these. It gets fiddled with in photo-editing software. Maybe they think by cropping and altering copywrite images they won’t be recognised. Or maybe they feel they can do a better job of balancing the image.

Where there is more of the image it’s possible to discern more of room behind hime. Pleated curtain. The corner of the door frame.

It’s only with this version we see how the film runs over his index finger – while held by thumb and second finger – over the back of his hand, spiralling over the inside of wrist, to shoulder, chest or back.

Crop his hand and the eyes. Is the eye you can see through the lens really looking at a frame? It seems to be directing its gaze to the right of the strip of film.

O.k. you got there before me. Did anyone else get a photo taken of himself like this. Eisenstein. As every film student knows Godard and Eisenstein have a direct line through montage. There are plenty of sources if you haven’t a clue what that’s all about. Godard and Eisenstein is a short post in Godard Montage, and more importantly Le Gai Savoir Godard and Eisenstein — notions of intellectual cinema by Ruth Perlmutter in Jump Cut.

There’s extrapolation and there extrapolation. If Godard is not paying homage to Eisenstein through his own image I’d be surprised. Mind you, it’s easy to get carried away. All film people who use celluloid and edit in it rather than digitising and then returning the edit to film for projection, look at bits of film.

But anyone who has looked into Godard and editing know he looked upon montage as more than mere editing.

Take a trip into the world of Godard and Montage. Read The Cinema Alone: Essays on the work of Jean-Luc Godard 1985-2000, edited by Michael Temple and James S. Williams. The whole of Chapter 2 Montage, My Beautiful care, or Histories of the cinematograph by Michael Witt is available in the Google Book version.

January 25, 2015 Posted by | Godard | | Leave a comment

FILMmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan – Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s F65 shoot

FILM NURI BILGE CEYLAN Anatolia [opening]

Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s F65 shoot

“I stopped shooting 35mm years ago. My last four films have all been digital, and all four were shot with Sony cameras,” he says. “The first two were on the F900, and my previous film, “Once Upon A Time in Anatolia”, was shot on the F35. In some way Sony was the most suitable for me for each of these films. Every company has their own colour understanding and maybe the way Sony understands colour is closer to how I understand it.”

Added to this, says Ceylan, “For a director, one of the important things aesthetically is the depth of field; that’s more important than the resolution. With the F35 and F65, it’s a Super 35 chip size, and that gives you the opportunity to control the depth of field as you like.” The resolution, the natural colours and especially the skin tones really appeal to me about the F65,” he says. “It’s the first time I’ve seen something better than 35mm.”

This still of the opening sequence in Anatolia was used in a previous post. Then I didn’t know he was using digital, so it has added interest now. All this piece and the embedded short video is very interesting. The depth of field over resolution is to note and inwardly digest. It’s a Sony plug, there we are.


17 Things You Should Know About Cannes Top-Prize Winner Nuri Bilge Ceylan

January 25, 2015 Posted by | digital cinematography, digital technology, Nuri Bilge Ceylan | Leave a comment

TV DRAMA SPIRAL Something like CSI directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Laure Berthaud (Caroline Proust) stars in Spiral series four

Spiral – Series 5

Clever but malheureusement pas ma phrase. @samwoolaston Guardian TV critic, way back in  July 2006. Not quite Godard exactly but it’s reads well. Could be ‘by someone like J-LG’. (Hooray got Godard into another post!).

He said:

(Woolaston, not Godard)

…a cool, dark French detective series, something like CSI directed by Jean-Luc Godard. It’s in that slightly coloured-in black and white. If it was a cigarette, it would be a Disque Bleu.

Someone’s been raped, someone else hasn’t, a couple of people are dead, a handicapped boy’s gone missing, a guy in jail gets a screwdriver through the heart, two other people have unhappy sex in a lonely hotel room. The cops are very French, very beautiful, moody, jealous and miserable.

I found the whole thing utterly baffling and slightly annoying, but also a little bit thrilling. It’s easy to see how Spiral became cult viewing.

In The Week on series 5:

AA Gill in the Sunday Times, whose tounge-in-cheek review notes that Spiral has a woman as its lead, “a bad-tempered, existentially morose, drunk slut” – and there really aren’t enough of them on television. He adds that there’s “nihilistic behaviour, mood swings and vomit” – he really can’t recommend Spiral highly enough.

There isn’t a profusion of reviews of the current series. This 2003 Radio Times:

Spiral is a subversive, relentlessly dark drama
–If you think The Killing made continental crime drama cool, you’re wrong…

and about she who plays Laure, now Chief Inspector Bertaud:

Spiral: meet the stylish star of BBC4’s grimy French cop drama
–Caroline Proust plays tough police captain Laure Berthaud – and shares her fiery nature

January 20, 2015 Posted by | Spiral [t.v. drama] | | Leave a comment

GRAPHIC confessions scriptwriter

Confessions of a Hollywood Screenwriter-Turned-Novelist

Daniele Pyne

Originally published in Word and Film

Daniel Pyne’s screenwriting credits include the remake of “The Manchurian Candidate,” “Pacific Heights,” and “Fracture.” He made his directorial debut with the indie cult film “Where’s Marlowe?” Pyne’s list of television credits includes J. J. Abrams’s “Alcatraz” and “Miami Vice.” His latest novel is Fifty Mice. He lives in Southern California. Here, Pyne unravels the screenwriter/novelist paradox.

January 15, 2015 Posted by | screenwriting | | 1 Comment

FILM The Imitation Game vs. The Imitation Game

SCRIPT TIG [AT as Sherlock] p. 5

COMIC The Imitation Game p 179 [court 1]

The Imitation Game vs. The Imitation Game


Why Can’t Movies Capture Genius?
–Three films about British brains show the trouble of bringing otherworldly intelligence to the big screen. You can show J.M.W Turner’s paintings or Alan Turing’s computer but never get inside their minds.

Clive Irving, Daily Beast, 14 Dec 2014

Why Are We So Obsessed With Geniuses on Film?

John Powers, Vogue, November 25, 2014

3 approaches

Our Genius Problem
–Why this obsession with the word, with the idea, and with the people on whom we’ve bestowed the designation?

Marjorie Garber, Atlantic, 23 Mar 2011

January 13, 2015 Posted by | Film - genius, screenplay, screenwriting, script, The Imitation Game [2014] | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM VIDEO ESSAY Two Expositions and a Manifesto

FILM ORSON WELLES F for Fake [gloves]

How Long is A Piece of String?
–On the Practice, Scope and Value of Videographic Film Studies and Criticism

By Catherine Grant

[A Presentation Given at the Audiovisual Essay Conference, Frankfurt Filmmuseum/Goethe University, November 23-24, 2013.]

“Look. I Know You’re Not Following What I’m Saying Anyway.”: The Problem of the “Video Essay” and Scorsese as Cinematic Essayist.

Drew Morton, [in]Transition, 12 Dec 2014

A Manifesto for the Video Essay

Adam Batty, Hope Lies at 24 Frame per Second.

January 13, 2015 Posted by | video essay | , , , | Leave a comment

FILM VIDEO ESSAY Hands of Bresson

FILM VIDEO ESSAY Bresson [Kogonada] 2

Hands of Bresson

A visual essay on the tactile world of Robert Bresson created for the Criterion Collection.

By Kogonada

Commenter Robert Withers suggests it

conveys a Bressonian sensibility . . . these shots/your montage reveal something of the man and artist. Subtlety, spirituality, materiality.

While Sinead Harnwell quotes Laurence Olivier :

“The actor should be able to create the universe in the palm of his hand.”

Czlowiek Kamera:

Bresson believed (…Montaigne) that hands have their own soul.

Many video essays that rely solely on visuals often don’t work very well. What has been edited together can seem more like a set of jumbled trailers than a coherent message. Often it’s simply a poor choice of material. But this video is so well constructed we fall into the magical world of Bressons hands. How come more film-makers don’t use hands like this more often.

Some more

On Robert Bresson – by Masha Tupitsyn

Robert Bresson – Strictly Film School

Notes on Cinematography – Robert Bresson [Translated by Jonathan Griffin] pdf facsimile pp.75 [take pleasure in clicking through the pages and stopping at random – there will always be something to make you think.]

January 12, 2015 Posted by | Bresson | , | Leave a comment

FILM SHORT Flotsam And Jetsam [2012]

FILM SHORT Flotsam and Jetsam [2012] [2]

Flotsam and Jetsam

Journeyman Pictures

Ewdard Rothstein, retweeted a mention of this film by Clive Thompson, so I looked for the film on YouTube.

January 10, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

FILM The Motion Picture Superimposed

Wim Wenders, Paris Texas [1984]

Wim Wenders, Paris Texas [1984]

The Motion Picture Superimposed

From Nelson Carvajal’s Free Cinema Now

January 9, 2015 Posted by | superimposition | | Leave a comment

FILM SCRIPT The English Patient [1996] – Almásy’s Bosphorus

FILM PHOTO The English Patient [Mosque]

Almásy: Well, a thing is still a thing no matter what you place in front of it.

Every night I cut out my heart. But in the morning it was full again.

“Um, Maddox, that place — that place at the base of a woman’s throat, you know, the hollow, here. Does it have an official name?”

“In case you’re still wondering, this is called a suprasternal notch”

How often should one re-watch The English Patient?

I’d recommend a 2 to 2 1/2 year interval. Lawrence of Arabia about 3.


The English Patient “Red Original” [someone might enlighten us as to what red refers to..]

The English Patient (1996) “movie script, Revised Draft. 28th August, 1995.”


The Lion of Literary Adaptation: How Anthony Minghella’s ‘The English Patient’ Became as Enduringly Definitive as It Has Been Challenging by Christine Spines, Word & Film, 4 October 2011

January 6, 2015 Posted by | Anthony Minghella, screenplay, screenwriting, script, The English Patient | , , , | Leave a comment