cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values

FILM GODARD In search of Godard’s ‘Sauve la vie (qui peut)

GODARD POSTER Sauve qui peut [la vie]

QUTATION GODARD say with letters

In search of Godard’s ‘Sauve la vie (qui peut)’

Hooray, another excuse to Godard a post! Though of course this time it’s about Godard not a Godard slipped into a post in the most tangential or even irrelevant fashion.

This academic paper by Michael Witt, Prof. of Cinema, U. Roehampton, London, tells the story of how he tried to re-construct a now disparu special film Godard made to go with the showing of Sauve Qui peut (la vie) at the 1981 Rotterdam Film festival, irritiatingly called Sauve la vie (qui peut).

Godard made Sauve la vie (qui peut) – see how this is going to be really irritating – by taking “a print of Sauve qui peut (la vie), excised parts of it, and combined what remained with extracts from four other films from the Film International collection.”

Whoops, we’re back in Historie[s] territory. As you see Histoire[s] was started in the 80s and completed in 1998. Without giving anything away Witt mentions, “.. Sauve la vie (qui peut) functioning as a laboratory for Histoire(s) du cinema.”

Anyway let’s not spoil the story. Read. Handy simplifed diagram to show the structure of both films.

July 14, 2015 Posted by | Jean-Luc Godard | | Leave a comment

FILM VIDEO ESSAY Kogonada ~ the exemplar


kogonada ~ The Image Master

Jim Ridley, Nashville Scene, 19 March 2015


His work – all wonderful ~ My favourite The Hands of Bresson {A previous COTA post}

Video essay techniques are all so different. Commentary. Just visuals. A single aspects of a directors style. Plus thrown in for good measure watching some of them there’s that, Heck I’m not really much of a cinephile -need to get in some DVDs.

The thing that makes Koganada outstanding is his technical skill. Everything he does demonstrates his understanding of film: using the raw material of other film-makers to say something about these films, while at the same time creating something new.

I’ve said before many try the video essay [leave out the categories now well established..] in whatever form they chose, but few succeed. They’re often academics, cinephiles or film writers who know what they want and could say it perfectly well in a text, but rarely achieve what it is obvious they are trying to do in visual terms: in the terms of film itself; in the language of film. [though of course that is not obligatory for a video essay].

The slide-show is not what video essays are about in their highly evolved form. Though many that are just slide shows are excellent. The notion that Godard was really a writer who ended up making films always comes to mind at this point! How many video essays are layered in his way….

[See how easy it is to drop a Godard into every post – P.S New book out now on Histoire[s] Canadian lectures]

Some video essayists do learn to select and edit effectively. Others sling sequences together – often just too many of them – which do little to demonstrate the thesis. Some simply can’t make up their minds if text/ audio commentary has to form a part of the essay or if it can be done with visuals alone. Music & sound effects a given – soundtrack or video-maker’s supplements.

The video essay really has become a branch of film studies! As I’ve probably said before being a film student studying film by making video essays as well as doing all the course work must be a really exciting thing to be involved in.

Waddoiknow. Watch this. Kevin B. Lee explains:

What Makes a Video Essay Great?

The comments are quite useful too.


Motion Studies: essential video essays

March 31, 2015 Posted by | kogonada, video essay | | Leave a comment

FILM GODARD A Man, A Woman and a Dog

FILM GODARD Au Adieu au Langage [iPhone]

Godard has a new film out. And he’s keen/anxious to talk about it, film ‘n stuff.

A few people have seen it, writing and talking about it at great length so spoiling it for everyone else who might have wanted to see it without the comments and interpretations of the expertigensia ringing in their ears, at what you now know are salient or significant points in the film [or the homage points, say, to his own films or film in general] which you’d hope to enjoy, be puzzled or exasperated by at your own pace.

Thank God (the one without the full stop or as the French call it, point, a word J-LG could have a field day with…). I made sure I did not read a lot before watching The Great Beauty. And then when I had seen it, I desisted from even translating the title into Italian or even mentioning that the phrase had been used by a character in the film in a certain way. See, there I’ve done it now. Now you will be on the look out for it, even though there has been no indication why this might have some significance.

One reads the contents of one’s mind before seeing a film, in anticipation of it, which in itself may spoil a film. Book, art, play, film. A filmic or booky equivalent, shall we say analogy, to phenomenological bracketing or epoché is impossible. I’ve already remarked in a recent post that as soon as I saw the poster for The Great Beauty, I knew [as would literally millions of others..] where we were coming from, though not necessarily where we were going to. Eric Morecambe’s famous riposte [applicable to almost anything, like the Actress & the Bishop jokes] to Andre Preview on his, Eric’s, terrible rendition of – was it Grieg’s piano concerto? – “I’m playing the RIGHT notes, but not necessarily in the RIGHT order!” always flings itself up from the recesses of my mind like the lyrics to an incomprehensible ’60s songs like the one by Noel Thingy called The Windmills of My Mind.

Why it is that I think of J-L Godard as the archetype (or prototype) of the incredibly difficult (but obviously highly intelligent) au contrarian conversationalist in any setting – uncle [ton ton] J-J at a family wedding or diner party, seated next to you in aircraft, etc. – who somehow manages to create the immediate suspicion he may well be mad, or temporally cured and released from some sort of mental institution (the old jackets…), yet, underneath the frightening persona, has something interesting to say which holds you there despite your inclination to run.

Really mad people we seem to have an instinct for as we have so much experience of them in everyday life. Like films we have seen too much about before watching them, Jean-Luc Godard comes with such a pedigree, a provenance, we are comfortable in the paradoxical nature of many of his pronouncements. Expect them even. Be lost without them, possibly. We know he, like a lunatic, assumes you know he is God [when it comes to film]. If you do, as he knows he is and you do, then all is simple.

The reviews on Adieu au Langage were not out when I was passed by Glen W. Norton, via a Godard forum, the link to the Canon video interview avec Godard with English subtitles

(…a classic God[.] subtitles joke in there not created by God[.] himself. Qua? Comment? These are accurate subtitles while his are notably unreliable.)

The areas I forced myself to listen to, while going Ni Ni Na Na with hands over my ears [mostly], were the technical ones. And this is reflected in graphics included in the post. Let’s try to grasp (as it is obviously important) why he at one and the same time decries technological advances and at the same time adopts them with alacrity. Except that is, in the case of editing (See relevant tab on the canon interview page) where he it is explained there – something know amongst God[.] watchers – he uses magnetic video tape to edit with, thus getting his technical collaborators who have filmed digitally to make video tapes for him to edit. The amusing thing is he’s renowned as an expert in editing with tape to an extent that makes many scratch their heads at his ingenuity.

I use this digital-magnetic example as a route into the mind of Jean-Luc Godard, in a sense prior to any messages he may be sending to his avid (an even not so enthusiastic) followers about life in general and of course the art of cinema, and Art.

While he argues here about his latest film that 3D is a FWOT

(Along the lines of, “It is useless! We see no more with it than before..” All true of course.)

he still uses it (At least twice so far..). And presumably this is a way of saying something. Well of course it is. And here is where we get to the crusty old uncle who frightens the sh** out of you, who blows cigar smoke into your face, and yet who let’s drop those few words which catch your interest. Words you know are true like you know a word of art by a master is true without being quite sure how to explain it.

With Godard it is for me when he talks of art. If you knew nothing about Godard the film genius and heard him talking of art in relation to all sorts of things, you will be gaining an experience of the mind of a man who has thought very deeply about his art and craft, film. Filmmakers who talk photography are in the same area. Even the knowledge that a film-maker was formerly a photographer says a lot.

The one who now always comes to my mind, when film and photography are mentioned in the same sentence, or should we even say thought in the same thought, is Nuri Bilge Ceylan. And if I may take a God[.]-like excursion down an dark alley which neither you the reader nor I may quite know is a dead-end or not – as this post is as ex-tempore as you are likely to get in postdom – Ceylan, has used severally the trope of bloke-wandering-around-ancient-site-with-camera-ignoring-and-annoying-girlfriend trope.

With Godard we have to understand that every film is the same film because he is trying to get over the same God[no .]-like message about how he as God [with or without .] can use film to get over his agendas [or not]. And so could everyone else to humanity’s general betterment, if they only had the brains and foresight to see. He like many good or even great film directors [even nerdy-looking baseball cap wearing ones..] is steeped in film from the year dot. And he evokes the complete history of film almost in every quakey sentence he utters. It’s always, “What is film?”. And of course, “What can it do and not do?” He seems to be saying all the time, “Film can’t do/isn’t doing so many things that people dreamed it might do.” And that’s because they don’t understand it well enough to see its talents.

Godard’s “cinema is dead” or “It is now!” [UK football ref there you no UK people..], or “Well, I thought it was then but it really is now” can confuse people. But it’s simple. He believed like Eisenstein that film was purely for political ends. The montage was the method. The Way, The Truth and The Light.

And so fast forward to a film like Adieu au Langage [3D]. Just like me with my immediate and deep apprehension of the depth of Italian cinema through a balding man sitting on a classy bench with shades that look suspiciously like the Ray-bans Marcello Mastroianni wore in 8 1/2, we should get the fact that every time Godard speaks on film (and life) he is thinking of how film failed. He may talk enthusiastically and yet mockingly or ironically about advanced technology, but you know he is still trying to get there, by any means at his disposal.

And all the time, he is still using the same film-text-film-text-text-film-film he developed from his earliest films. At one point in my Godard journey, I felt sure he was saying film could not replace writing and so his films had to constantly show this to be true. For the audience this can be both irksome and difficult. A major facet of this is his voice and text overs are in French. Unless French is your first language or a good second, his efforts to overlap three things at once are pretty much wasted on you, as an immediate effect.

If this all seems a bit too arcane and you have not got to Histoire[s] du Cinema (and perhaps never will) try reading Celine Scamma’s schema for Histoire[s] – a blog search in COTA will get you there.

And finally, as The Two Ronnie would say, there is that thing about Godard and his unreliable subtitling. Apogee: Film Socialism. I have no idea whether this is true or not, but I sense he is saying that you can’t translate poetry into another language without destroying or partially destroying its original meaning. Which is true. Godel, Escher Bach, for some ideas and background. And he quotes poetry a lot in his films. As well as showing and talking about art.

And so for film. The very act of trying to make a film helps to remove your original intention (He seems to be saying..amongst many other things). If you just use film. So he, wanting to be sure of getting over whatever message he intends, falls back on words in films as text and commentary (plus the obligatory art),which in itself is an essay on the limits of film. Or the dialectic between The Word and The Film. (Being some kind of Marxist, he would want to show that dialectic is real moving things forward).

And so (and here back to latest interviews) he feels he can’t say directly (and never could or would) simply, in words, what he wants to say about film. This is both because it dishonours film (and maybe dispels some of its magic and mystic) and because he doesn’t want to make the whole thing seem simpler than it is. Instead he picks up on small points (in the Canon interview he starts with SMS, the modern, the dubious) from which to expand (why not start anywhere?) outwards and back inwards at the same time, to the core of what he sees film is and can do. And of course what life (using an iPhone) is and can mean (film your day he suggests..). That goes without saying. Though, like God[.], I’ve said it to make sure you don’t miss it.


With Canon interview spoiler…

1/. Godard comes in many shapes and sizes
– He briefly reprised his views on aspect ration with Gallic hand gestures demonstrating the cutting off of the upper part of a shot, etc.

2/. Something I feel strongly: what a film is about or meant to be about can be taken separately from how it was made. Or not. They can complement each other. Or not. My natural inclination is to run these in parallel. Weaving in and out. Often when the going gets tough on the film itself as a story with a narrative imperative (or not), resorting, or even retreating (out of the sun into the shade..), to the How Did They Do That? seems the most sensible place to go. Even if in the end that strip of bright sunlight between the shady tree and the house has to be crossed.

Godard is often talked about in terms of his oeuvre when a new one pops up (as one does of directors in general). We get the jump cut standing for À Bout de Souffle, or Fritz Lang standing for Le Mépris (who starred in it but to whom Godard was also paying obeisance to as a director. (Wiki:Contempt (film) is an Idiot’s Guide to the latter with some of the associated Langifications – A browser search on Fritz on that wiki page will do the trick).

May 24, 2014 Posted by | Douglas Hofstadter, DSLR cinematography, DSLR Digital Cinematography Guide, Eisenstein, European art cinema, European cinema, European film, film analog/digital, Film and The Arts, film aspect ratio, film reflexivity, film sex, Film Socialisme, film technique, film theory, film [its techniques], French films, Fritz Lang | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM BOOK Godard – Introduction to a True History of Cinema and Television

BOOK COVER PUBLISHER CABOOSE caboose_History_of_Cinema

Images are freedom and words are prison.

–Jean-Luc Godard

Introduction to a True History of Cinema and Television

Godard’s lectures and discussions in Montreal in 1978—a series of fourteen meetings that pave the way for the eight chapters of his Histoire(s) du cinema (1988–1998). Translated by Timothy Barnard. Caboose.

COTA has 2 posts on Histoire[s]

FILM VIDEO Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du Cinéma {2010}

FILM Godard Histoire(s) du cinéma {2009}

both mention

La « partition » des Histoire(s) du cinéma de Jean-Luc Godard created by Celine Scemama.

In the first sample page 1 of the partition makes it immediately obvious what the partition is, and how useful it can be as a follow-up on a viewing [or two] of Histoire[s]. It’s in French, but if you’ve had to watch Histoire[s] only partially understanding the French, this is blessed relief.

Celine Scemama has since written:

Histoire(s) du cinéma de Jean-Luc Godard: La force faible d’un art
By Céline Scemama-Heard [2006]

Musique, photographie, peinture, gravure, sculpture, littérature, archives, philosophie, poésie, discours, histoire et …cinéma. Godard a mis un s à ses Histoire(s) du cinéma. L’oeuvre de Godard impose une contemplation paradoxalement violente parce que l’écran des Histoire(s) est à l’image des plis du temps où sont retenus toutes les souffrances et tout ce qui est inachevé. Le montage permet des substitutions, des surimpressions et des rapprochements qui font du cinéma une grande puissance historique

May 18, 2014 Posted by | Caboose, Celine Scemama | , , , | Leave a comment

TV ♦ Channel 4 ♦ 4OD ♦ The Story of Film: An Odyssey ♦

The Story of Film: An Odyssey

This the 4OD catch-up page : episodes 1-5 still available as of 2 October 2011

Bought the BCA edition of Cousins’ book when it came out in 2004. It’s full of information and ideas, but I find it a difficult book to read because there isn’t enough space around the text. Simply highlighting all the film titles would make a great difference.

Weighing in at 1.2 kg of fine paper the 612 pages of The Story of Film (no ‘An Odyssey’ subtitle), including index and picture credits, they had to pack it all in, but it looses out though a something not quite right visual interpretative choice of layout. All of which is paradoxical since it’s about a visual medium. Plenty of nice graphics, including many in colour. Maybe the other editions have better visual impact. Though it’s a wonderful, heavy glossy large-format paperback, with a good proportion of colour photos to go with the colour films they represent. For me I think one simple change would have made it o.k. Print all the film titles in bold, so that you could, can. skate over the text, from title to title from time to time, reverentially almost touching them, one after another in a quasi-religious way, as if these were mentions of God’s name in the Torah. What do you need to do with this book? To be able to open it somewhere and find the line of films, trace it through and stop at the one you want , read about it, say Renoir’s Regle de Jeu, and then move on. They would stand out from the page rather a lot, but in the case of text (as opposed to film) functionality should come first over looks. Note, however, I haven’t used bold for titles! Just might come back an make the titles bold to make my point.

Interestingly, The Story of Film documentary, though taking each era and new technique chronologically as he does in the book – mixing directors from different countries as the themes are followed, and occasional looping forward in time to later films and directors, and then back, to make points – doesn’t really allow you to sit with the book picking out more detail at each stage as you watch. Some of the book is re-jigged or missed out altogether, not unexpectedly. Going back to the book after the series is over, will be like a re-editing of the documentary, with a rapidly fading image of film sequences not quite tallying with the text and photos. Although if you are a film buff, these clips seem to stick in mind like glue somehow. Probably get full marks on depth of field in a large proportion of them, for example.

In episode 5, which I have just watched, Cousins mentions Carney in Scarface[1932]: how the American critics of the time concentrated on the wrongness of the character Cagney portrays showing such glee in his badness.

Coincidentally just read H. L. Mencken’s The Homiletics of Criticism which in mind nicely dovetails with this remark by Cousin’s about film criticism. This is a cultural thing which pretty much still exists: modern Hollywood movies are still treated by critics as if they are moral tracts first – the homilies of homiletics – and visual aesthetic experiences second. So a film, say in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, will be criticised heavily for unsympathetic portrayals of soldiers before it is assessed as a whole. First and foremost is the making sure the myth of America is playing out correctly, or corrected if deemed wrong, and second is the truth of an artistic portrayal. So try to stick to film experts for critiques!

Cousin’s film essay is perfectly understandable, though I find I’m again taking a fragmentary approach, as I did with Godard’sHistoire[s], picking out bits here and there, preferring to enjoy the visual spectacle of so many film clips, artily and artfully edited together. This is pretty much what you have to do with Godard: going back again and again to slowly bring out the complexities. You’re not quite sure some of the time what his position is, let alone having an answer if you find you disagree!

Luckily, in The Story of Film we don’t have to endure subtitles in English and the traditional Godard dense verbal overlay in French – plus translations of the textual montages on screen! – which rather defeats the purpose for non-French speakers. Though to help with Godard there is the nice tabulation (in French but at least written down to take ones time over translating and sorting, which I have found an linked to in a earlier post Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du Cinéma. If you can’t find it amongst all the other things in there, it’s La « partition » des Histoire(s) du cinéma de Jean-Luc Godard by Céline Scemama. In that post there is a snip of the first page of the schema, so that it’s possible to see at a glance how this might help to unravel the complexity of Godard.

Cousin’s delivery is so measured as to make it impossible to miss a single word. Godard almost seems to be ‘colour-blind’ about narrative can blot out visuals, like a mobile phone-call can as one is driving. Or maybe, rather, Godard knows very well that it does have this effect, but chooses to do it nonetheless, because he requires this conflict in the viewing/listening experience. He’s not there to give you an easy ride. That, I feel (other have said) is because Godard is really a novelist manqué. He gives preference to the textual (in his case not only texts on screen – including montages of words and parts of words – but texts read out) as if he were unsure he trusts film on it’s own. If it isn’t that – and I’ve a lot of reading to do on Godard – then his oeuvre as a whole (with exceptions) is a long, drawn-out essay on the limits and difficulties of film. Which is fair enough. And why so many are intrigued with him.

What I’m looking forward to (I’m just off to watch episode 5 of the Story of Film) is to see how he tackles the New Wave, Godard in particular. Is he going to uses film techniques to mirror Godard’s style? Well, probably not. But the clips he uses to illustrate his points will be great fun.

October 3, 2011 Posted by | Godard, Mark Cousins, The Story of Film: An Odyssey | , | 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