cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values

FILM GODARD A Woman is a Woman [1961]

FILM GODARD A Woman is a Woman [1961]

A Movie is a Movie


Darrell Ron Tuffs


A World of Film, 28 April 2015



May 28, 2015 Posted by | Godard | | Leave a comment


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

FILM Jean-Luc Godard’s favourite films 1956-65

Jean-Luc Godard, Berlin 1961. Photo by F.C. Gundlach

Jean-Luc Godard, Berlin 1961. Photo by F.C. Gundlach

Jean-Luc Godard’s favourite films 1956-65

Hillary Weston, Black Book Nov 2014

Top quote:

I write essays in the form of novels, or novels in the form of essays. I’m still as much of a critic as I ever was during the time of ‘Cahiers du Cinema.’ The only difference is that instead of writing criticism, I now film it.

December 14, 2014 Posted by | Godard, Jean-Luc Godard | | Leave a comment

FILM THINK All auteurists are cinephiles


In a May 2014 post, Godard and Other Reading, Girish flags up Caboose’s publication of an English translation of Godard’s 1978 Montreal Lectures, Introduction to a True History of Cinema and Television, quoting translator Timothy Barnard:

In the book, Godard sets out a philosophy of the image—in the process disproving his own thesis that words are prison, for there is nothing more liberating than this book—and outlines a theory and practice of ‘making’ film history through the act of viewing films. The Montreal talks were the forerunner to his video series Histoire(s) du cinéma. While some critics have described the latter as his Finnegan’s Wake, the True History of Cinema is his Arabian Nights: page-turning true stories of the movies whose idiosyncratic views, leavened with Godard’s famous caustic wit, will delight all readers. Never has Godard been as loquacious, lucid and disarmingly frank as he is here, holding forth, in an experience he describes as a form of ‘public self-psychoanalysis’, on his personal and professional relationships, working methods, aesthetic preferences, political beliefs and, on the cusp of 50, his philosophy of life.

A commenter Remy Renault wrote…

Well one thing that concerns me is what appears to be a schism between the “cinephiles” and the “auteurists”, the latter of whom are accused of vulgar auteurism by the “cinephiles”. The cinephiles tend to see ‘foreign art cinema’ of the fifties, sixties, and seventies as the apotheosis of filmmaking and are skeptical of what they perceive as mere entertainment products revered only for their technical merits, the films of Hawks and Ford. I used to be in this camp but now genuinely believe Ford to be among the three or four most important filmmakers of all time. The others are Godard, Renoir, and Vigo perhaps. The auteurists scoff at the cinephiles and then inevitably and perhaps unfairly begin judging Antonioni and Tarkovsky “by their respective audiences”. So should this gap be bridged? And for rhetorical purposes, what makes the “cinephile” attitude reactionary as well as the symptom of a less “advanced” stage of cinephilia? Why does one “grow out of” Tarkovsky but not Ford or Renoir for that matter?

Girish responds:

My take is very different from yours.

— I see no built-in opposition between cinephiles and auteurists (or between cinephilia and auteurism) at all. Cinephilia is the larger category — of all film-lovers who are also (see Antoine de Baecque on this) interested not just in watching films but also reading, writing, talking about them seriously. Auteurists are a subset of cinephiles, and are those who like to view films through the lens of an ‘author’—most often the director. All auteurists are cinephiles but the reverse is not true. There is no hard-and-fast equation of cinephiles with (exclusively) art cinema. See the history of French New Wave cinephilia—Godard, Truffaut, et al. were BOTH cinephiles and auteurists. Some of the most respected cinephiles today (like Jonathan Rosenbaum in the elder generation or Ignatiy Vishnevetsky in the younger) are also ‘selective auteurists’–meaning, they often like to focus on the marks of authorship of the director but this is not exclusively the only lens they bring to analyzing films.

— “Vulgar auteurism” is a very narrow, specific phenomenon (see this post and discussion from last summer)—much smaller than auteurism at large.

— There are several large conversations (and posts) at this blog about auteurism and cinephilia. You may want to do “searches” on these two terms on this blog; there’s a search box at the bottom of the sidebar. I think you’ll enjoy all the reading you’ll turn up.

To which our Remy responds:

Perhaps the terms I employed were problematic, but you do raise the issue I’m referring to, that there are cinephiles who judge filmmakers solely based on what they regard to be their ‘medium specific’ contributions whereas others tend to judge films based on how they stack up as ‘works of art’ in a more ‘cosmic’ sense and on how they contribute to what’s perceived as ‘high culture’. So is taking a traditional ‘high culture’ approach to film appreciation reactionary? Also, is it limiting to dwell with an evangelical fervor on ‘medium specific’ elements at the expense of all else, since it often leads to the devaluing of guys like Bergman and Fellini who contributed to art and culture in more of a cosmic sense?

And Girish finally:

…. I believe this is a false opposition.

‘Medium specificity’ has to do with making use of the unique powers of cinema–i.e. doing something in cinema that is not translatable to other forms (like literature or theatre) without great loss.

The good practitioners of what you refer to as ‘high culture’ or ‘art cinema’ are VERY much aware of the specific, unique powers of cinema–and they are venturesome in making use of them.

Ford’s films contribute as much to the larger world (‘in a cosmic sense’, as you say) as Bergman or Fellini. Think of someone like Jean-Marie Straub (among the most exalted of ‘art cinema’ filmmakers) for whom Ford is one of the supreme filmmakers.

All of the above mentioned filmmakers are deeply aware of–and make great, imaginative use of–medium specificity.


[1] wiki:Cinephilia

[2] wiki:Vulgar auteurism

A definition: “a critical movement committed to assessing the ‘unserious’ artistry of popcorn cinema with absolute seriousness.” Discuss.

Ref list including [4]

[4] What the Insular Debate on ‘Vulgar Auteurism’ Says About Contemporary Movie Criticism and Cinephilia

[5] Vulgar Auteurism

6 June 2013 post by Girish

He points out he’s posted variously on auteur theory and cinephila – searches for these posts bringing up e.g.
On Auteurism. In this one, Girish quotes from Dana Polen’s Auteur Desire – a 14 page downloadable file.

I also found the term ‘master of enunciation’ in Aesthetics of Film. Pages 234-5 are the key sections though enoncé/énonciation is introduced earlier in the book [p.82-83]. Having the hard-copy is nice but a GoogleBook is available with quite a few relevant pages including 82-83 under heading Narrative, Narration and Diegesis:

Two paras at p.233 give some help:

Since the 1960s and its valorization of auteur theory [..], we have seen more and more filmmakers asserting themselves by a personal enunciation and also signing, as it were, their films with some more or less flamboyant marks of their own characteristic enunciation.

E.g.s such as Bergman’s Persona, Antonioni’s Eclipse, Godard’s Contempt, Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.

At the beginning of the 1970s, a large theoretical debate surrounded ideology as conveyed by the classical cinema and, in particular, its transparency and effacement of the marks of enunciation. Several filmmakers, in keeping with their political or ideological concerns, believed it best to inscribe the work of enunciation [which is to say the production process] clearly within their films.

e.g. Godard/Gorin’s Tout Va Bien

This section beginning p. 233 is sub-headed, Identification and Enunciation. It’s worth going back to the beginning of the section to get identification/enunciation clear.

It says finally:

ABSTRACT FILM Aesthetics of Film [p 235]

[6] Auteurist backsliding

Dan Sallitt, 22 April 2010 [Dan Sallitt’s Homepage]

[7] Auteurist v. Cinephile (Dan Sallitt)

Screenville, 23 April 2010

Harry Tuttle in part tackles the confusions over the terminology, auteurist, auteurism, cinephile, by reference to Sillett’s post [6].

[8] Authorship & Auteur Theory

in RioDrome – my header Wordle came from here.

Girish points out two from FSFF:

[9] On Auteurism and Film Authorship Theoriespacked with refs from Film Studies for Free

[10] C is for Cinephilia Studies (plus some telephilia, too)

– Well, no, I’ve not read refs in [9] & [10] but I know where to look for them. A quick perusal of titles makes me think this might be a step too far for me.

September 18, 2014 Posted by | auteur theory, auteurist, Cahiers du cinéma, cinephile, Godard | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM CANNES 2014 In conversation with Jean-Luc Godard

SNIP FILM GODARD Adieu au Langage [4]

SNIP FILM GODARD Adieu au Langage [2]

Images above © Jean-Paul Battaggia*

SNIP FILM GODARD Cannes interview 2014 [1]

So he was giving interviews. Thank God-ard, this one’s subtitled in Anglais mon brave.

In conversation with Jean-Luc Godard. Filmmaker extraordinaire

FILM GODARD Adieu au Langage [2]

From this page the interview in 2 parts, the short trailer and background info. Interesting to note that God.[Fr.point] doesn’t stoop to digital technology but has the digital ‘footage’ converted back to video tape so he can edit it. I remember reading elsewhere how he got really expert at using this medium. Here brief mention of this practice under the workflow tab, with cinematographer Fabrice Aragno. Under equipment he seems to be saying things like 3D gives you no more, we see the same.

* These are from a set on the webpage. I’ve tried to keep them in the right proportions but it’s easier said than done.
A picture speaks a 1000 words, so couple of images to give a bit of an idea of what 3D involves using SLRs. The rig looks home-made, which is an encouragement young film-makers. And of course a bit more advertising for Canon. Godard talks of filming with an iPhone. I have only just seen how my son can run up a music video on his mobile using on-board apps. Note what Godard says about the equipment side in the interview.

May 21, 2014 Posted by | Fabrice Aragno, Godard | , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM The Great Beauty 2013 [1]

Toni Servillo in The Great beauty

Dead in the water. Stuck. Wanting to spill out you thoughts on a film you heard about, watched and then, hey everybody, this is good, it’s….ah,um….you’ve got someone you’d like to watch this film before you spoil it by explaining all. Who hasn’t had that sinking moment when you ask someone about film, only to realise the whole film is going to be recalled from prodigious memory for you, and there is no escape. Yes, seen it. Brilliant. And here is entire right down to the details of all the dialogue.

I’ve got the same problem with The Great Beauty directed by Paolo Sorrentino. What can I say? I’ve tried writing it through to see what can be said, ending up with half-written sentences stuttering to a halt well before reaching their destinations. I was even going to use a few Italian phrases heard in the film. No. There is no way round this except to say it’s termed an art-house film. It’s Italian. English sub-titles. It won the best Foreign Film Award at the Oscars last year. Must be worth watching for foreign film enthusiast. It is.

What to say on a film you want someone to watch before you say anything? Are there films you can say quite a lot about without spoiling someone else’s viewing? Is the smallest vignette permitted? No. Not in this case either. All I can say now is, Lo, a film, try it. So. Not even the title translated into Italian. How one has to exercise steely control. And so this post is also addressed to someone who has seen the film who might understand why the title has not been translated in the heading, or in the body of text. (But who can have a conspiratorial wink about knowing why, and in turn not being able to put a kibosh on things by making a comment..)

Perhaps as a displacement activity to assuage the frustration : une petite idée de film.

A man and a woman meet, fall in love. Have a relationship. Then it breaks up for reasons unknown to the audience. On show some bewilderment, anger, sadness, regret, etc. Hankies out. They both loved the movies and spent a lot of time watching them and talking about them. As one does.

They both realise they can’t share anything about film anymore – no communicating at all. They spend a lot of time thinking and imagining what they would be choosing to see, where they would be doing it if still together. Shown by the usual – inevitable – tropes [cleverly masked as homages and satire on] of shots of couples going into movies, etc. Even plugging in DVDs, blubbing, et al. Little scene in which one or other, disconsolate but determined, goes to see a movie. Buys a ticket, stands in foyer with the milling crowd – then after a certain amount of wistfulness, walks back out onto the street.

The upshot, to cut a short story shorter, is the means by each comes to terms with the loss of the film connection amongst the butterflies of lurv, and learns to live and love again. He of course has a film blog and finds he can’t write about films he wants her to see, so stalls, writes around the curly hedges, about production design or mise en scene, or even Godard being rude about actors, anything just to post with the film’s title on the heading. A marker for the future. A dog lifting it’s leg to a lamp post.

Suddenly one day he finds he can write a bit more on films he has seen. But not a lot. He still can’t bring himself to write about the latest releases – he doesn’t want to be a dirty little spoiler. But he realises he can write about obscure art-house movies that no one would want to watch, or even the technicalities of film making like editing.

Here’s one.

In the middle of a long dissertation on Hitchcock’s 1954 Rear Window, from an editing point of view (and POV comes into it a lot..), in Valerie Orpen’s Film Editing, on page 27, referring to an interview with Truffaut, at which point he is talking about the Kuleshov effect:

FILM EDITING orpen p.27 [hitch on actors] [2]

reading this, helps to see a bit more clearly what Godard means about actors. He’s saying the same thing, except he says it in such as a way as to highlight his role as auteur. Ce film, c’est a moi! Tout a fait….mon Dieu….mais oui….c’est vrai….il est moi! Godard=cinema=Godard. And Hitch was in the Hollywood system for the most part i.e. not what would be considered an auteur. Hitch was in control of his projects in a way most Hollywood directors were not. I’ve not read it said he was an auteur in the way the New Wave directors were. Though Godard is greatly interested in him and his work.

May 16, 2014 Posted by | Alfred Hitchcock, Godard, Jean-Luc Godard, POV, Rear Window [1954], The Great Beauty [2013] | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM ASPECT RATIO Godard comes in many shapes and sizes


Cahier du Cinema July 2004

mentioned in:

Godard comes in many shapes and sizes

David Bordwell December 14, 2007

Which seems to be the essay/analysis/explanation of aspect ratio. Sit down with a hot drink: it’s long.

December 26, 2013 Posted by | film aspect ratio, Godard | Leave a comment

FILM JOURNAL Alphaville Issue 5 – Cinema in the Interstices

PHOTO Cracked_Concrete_01_by_RocketStock

click to enlarge

Alphaville : Journal of Film and Scene Media

Issue 5

Cinema in the Interstices

Cinema in the Interstices: Editorial

Conscious of the underlying significance of this term and its many interpretations within the context of visual culture, particularly as related to film and screen media, Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media set out to provide a forum to explore the myriad of interstices that exist both within the medium of film and between film and other media, firstly in the form of an international conference held at University College Cork in September 2012, and now in a special issue of Alphaville dedicated to the topic.

Lot’s and lots to read.

I was drawn in by the word interstice. A wonderful sounding word which most people couldn’t pronounce let alone define. The editorials starts with:

The interstice: something empty, something minute—a crevice, a chink, a narrow gap—yet, in spite of this definition of something apparently slight and inconsequential, one perhaps may make the claim that the interstice serves as a foundational element of film. The “intervening space”, as the OED defines it, in its celluloid form provided the connection between multiple images, allowing them to run together to form the illusion of movement. While this interstitial black strip that imperceptibly framed the moving image is no longer a constituent part of cinema in its current digital format, interstices continue to proliferate in screen media, perhaps to a greater extent than ever. Indeed, just as cinema originated in the interstices between theatre, painting, literature and photography, this intermediality takes on a redefined role in the digital era, with the lines between cinema, television, art, video and new media becoming increasingly difficult to define.

And so I was off, thinking about black bars between frames of pellicule. Though I knew in my bones, chasing a few rabbits down their holes, this was the entre to a lot more things of interest and use among a whole swathe I probably wouldn’t understand or be bothered with. But how do you know till you read?

And so what exactly are the film things I am bothered with? Think, Think. One, how films are made, particularly cinematography and editing, aesthetics goes without saying (but there, I’ve said it), and the limits of film (and the sort of questions that cropped up when Godard started writing in the Cahiers and then made films himself which, if we use A Bout de Souffle, was often about how film was not up to the job he wanted it to do – and/or was dead and gone in the terms in which he saw it: in two words Eisenstein and montage. Godard a writer trying a new medium and as I see it often being disappointed and expressing this disappointment in his own films. Alright, I admit it, I’ve been trying Histoires yet again). Phew! How hard it is to attend to three things at once and have the added disadvantage of English subtitles. Perhaps better without enough French to read La « partition » des Histoire(s) du cinéma de Jean-Luc Godard by Céline Scemama as a companion-piece to Histoire(s). My ideal: watch it first, then the transcription,then both together. But it becomes a study not an experience, where it has to be watched on DVD to stop it at will.

The start point – stimulated by the Alphaville editorial’s first para – was that black gap between each frame. Faux naively (sometimes the ridiculously obvious can turn up insights) I mused the black dividing lines had to be there because of the way a roll of film running through a camera exposed individual frames. A shutter or shutters opened to expose each frame and it couldn’t do it quick enough to have no gap between frames. Though of course even if that were feasible, with each frame abutting directly to the next, the separation of frames as they are by a gap might well be needed to help create the moving images at a certain speed of projection. Who knows – not many – if the movie would work projected without the few millimeters of black space?

It wasn’t there in order to. It was there because it had to be there, and then they found a way to get over these leetel black bars between frames by projecting the film at a certain speed both to eliminate them from perception, and eventually at 24fps to get a movie that wasn’t jerky as the early silent films were.

Then the assertion that

[..] cinema originated in the interstices between theatre, painting, literature and photography

made me think some more – and this is the first paragraph of the editorial! – what interstices were these exactly? That later.

The fourth wall. We know that cinema was distinctly theatrical in it’s beginnings. But surely, film rather than being in cracks between the traditional arts – once the theatrical style was left behind – was a new art form which superimposed itself on them as a whole, using them; or perhaps that the arts fed directly or indirectly into film, rather than the other way round. Or even that it parasitised on them or was in symbiosis with them. Or both. Or saprophytic. Or even commensal. But it did become the predominant – as in popular and wide-spread – art form the 20 century. Pretty quickly it was the flicks people went to see instead of music hall – certainly not art galleries or museums. Though come to think of it, music and film became close partners in a way that art and theatre did not. Theatre and ballet became favourite subjects of film and have remained so to the present day. Opera became the musical. But film technique has developed on its own.

Film Studies at University College Cork

Well, better start reading. Might learn something.

October 2, 2013 Posted by | 24 fps, art, À bout de souffle, Breathless, Cahiers du cinéma, cinematography, Eisenstein, film, Film and The Arts, film editing, film music, film [its techniques], film-making, Godard, perception | , , , | Leave a comment

FILM DIRECTOR Godard read Proust

Readable in a second tab

October 18, 2012 Posted by | Godard, Proust | , , , | 2 Comments

FILM WITHIN FILM TRUFFAUT La Nuit Americaine [1973]

Jean-Pierre Léaud and Francois Truffaut in La Nuit Americaine

Looked at Truffault again in the week before his anniversary date which was marked by a Google Doodle. With a bit of luck this should mean a lot of people looking to see who he was. And watching some of his films. Could check DVD sales.

Watched 400 Cent Coups from my collection and then decided to buy a DVD of La Nuit Américaine (Day for Night, 1973). In reading about the film over the years and forever coming across the first shot of the square where Alphonse, played by the adult Jean-Pierre Léaud, pops out of the metro, and then the exposure of the film-within-a-film with light, camera crane, it always felt this would be my kind of film.

Having watched it twice – the no-English subtitle DVD, allowing me to focus more on the visuals; then in YouTube with English subtitles – I felt disappointed he chose to counterpoise his clever, funny film about film-making with a run-of-the mill film-within-a-film. Yes, it’s part of the fun to have a bog-standard melodrama – which Truffault himself said still demonstrates how film-making works – but there are reasons why a film-within-film as good as the film itself might have worked too.

A sensible remark elsewhere: look at them as two films spliced together as well as a one film framing another. That is the physical reality, despite the viewer seeing the making of Pamela ‘through the frame’ of Day for Night.

It’s easy to see why he chose a rubbish film to film, right down to questions of mise-en-scene. What’s so clever about Day for Night is how he teases out these issues at different levels: from that of Day for Night itself and how it shows how a film can portray filmmaking; from the point of view of the director of Pamela (played by Truffault himself), who narrates his opinions about films and film-making at certain points (yet the director of Day for Night, Truffaut doesn’t!); and the interplay between the two films as exemplified by where Truffaut is allowed to be (can be) both directors at the same time, directing his own film with a crew we don’t see, and Pamela as Ferrand – at times Ferrand can be Truffaut directing Day for Night when he is in front of the camera directing as Ferrand. This is first shown at the end of the Square shot when after seeing the actors and crew break up from the mise en scene, moving in to listen to the assistant director talking through a megaphone, we see Truffault in the background showing the principle actors how to do their last action: a slap from character Alphonse to Alexandre. One’s first reaction is that this is Pamela‘s director, Ferrand, but it can just as easily be Truffaut the director of Day for Night showing how he wants the slap acted by the real-life actors.

If Truffaut had gone for something which was almost equivalent in quality to his own film, it’d take away from Truffaut’s depiction (Eh? How? Since they’re both his films!): primarily, at times we might have been more engaged in the story he was framing to the detriment of his own. A good story is a good story even if it’s a brief scene or two. Every time we were that absorbed in a narrative, we would be less aware there was another real director and his crew behind that. (Well, perhaps no! They alternate, so we are always made aware of which is which.) In practice the framed film takes only a 1/4 or so of the film’s total time.

There is a point in Day for Night where this actually happens: the past-it woman actress can’t remember her lines because she’s drunk too much, and keeps on drinking more to try to remedy the situation, blaming other people for her ineptitude, while the director of Pamela – played by Truffault to make sure we never forget it’s a Truffaut film by appearing regularly as the acted director reassuring her with lot’s of, “It’s not a problem”, eventually taping her lines to various parts of the set and patiently asks her to re-do it, several times. Truffault the director of Day for Night, as well as of Pamela is the clever bit that others who tried films-within-films didn’t try.

At this point – where we wish she’d just get it right because it’s like a soap being rehearsed; we are also quite enjoying how it allows Truffaut to show how film is created, and the the familiar jokes about film-making – we are not so aware it’s being directed and filmed with Truffaut behind his own camera, because he’s seen so much in front of it. That’s quite clever too.

I kept on thinking (for some reason) why not use, instead of a simple film like Pamela, some kind of modern take on Renoir’s Regle de Jeu with those clever mirror shots and complex story. But then the joins would have been easier to see: it would really seem as if it was two films spliced together (which is was anyway), even with Truffaut bridging the two as himself and the framed film’s directer.

One is left with so much of Day for Night being a film one would never watch! In order to watch his entertaining take on films on films, we have to endure shots re-shot in a film, Pamela, we wouldn’t watch. Of course one of the film-maker’s jokes – made within Pamela at various points, such as the death of the lead actor and the finances, the goings on among the crew – is all this effort is going into the making of film that will probably never get distribution. But his own film, Day for Night, will! Saying that doesn’t say the producer, director and crew as depicted by the actors in Pamela aren’t thoroughly professional. We see the professionals at work in Pamela, but not those creating Day for Night.

But let’s get serious.

Illusion 24 frames per second: François Truffaut’s La Nuit Américaine, Daniel Fairfax, Senses of Cinema.

The principal question haunting La Nuit Américaine is, on the other hand, whether films are superior to life.

Ferrand, director of Pamela :

Films are more harmonious than life, Alphonse, there are no bottlenecks in films, no dead-time, films keeps rolling forward, like trains, you understand, like trains in the night. People like you and me, you know, are only happy in our work, our work in the cinema.

Character Alphonse at another point in in Pamela:

“I think Ferrand has it wrong. Life is more important than the cinema.”

Natalie Baye as script girl Joëlle in Day For Night

La nuit Américaine was the point beyond which Truffaut and Godard’s friendship failed. e.g. Truffaut, Godard, Day For Night, and a link. The link is to an short edited version translated into English of an interview Godard gave to Christian Jurgen in German NZZ Online [7 November 2010]. (If read in Chrome, a rough automatic translation of the whole interview is possible).

The Truffaut-Godard spat is a great story and – is there a film already? – is briefly mentioned in that interview, which also covers Godard himself, cahiers, his explaining his turn away from auteur theory (he says it applied to the New Wave, which passed) his new film Socialsme, and so on.

In the interview Godard is asked about Truffaut:

You fell out later with François Truffaut. What was the reason?

I noticed over time that he made exactly the films we attacked: Written movies! Truffaut’s works were not influenced by the camera, but from the pen. The camera imitating what his pen had written.

Godard’s notion of this in some way breaking their rules – as perceived by Godard – of how they made films, links up with my deliberately laboured attempts, below, to look at the joins in Day and Night. I’ve always been a lot more interested in film as a technical medium, its capabilities and limits, than in stories film tells per se, though there are many fine ones, well told.

If you can avoid a cliche in praise-filled phrases you’d be clever. Roger Ebert does well with’…not only the best movie ever made about the movies, but also a great entertainment.’

The cleverest bit in a way is not the film-within-film antiques but that Truffaut is the director of Day for Night and his film-within-a-film (Godard in Le Mempris has Fritz Lang playing himself spouting Godard!), Meet Pamela. It’s the sort of thing that auterists would see in some sort of diagram as the script was developed. The first time we see Truffaut in his trade-mare leather blouson, he being filmed from a crane (yet to be shown itself to establish visually the film-within-film, though we already know this from the behaviour of the actors and the evidence of the camera track running the length of the square) in a medium-long shot giving post-shot instructions to Alphonse and Alexandre. Since he is the director of Day for Night as well as of Pamela, which director is he being at that point? Well, of course, he can relax into this and be both at the same time.

At this point, the viewer can see the possibilities and look forward to enjoying the fun. However – sacred bleu, mais non! Incroyable!- I didn’t find it as exhilarating as I thought I might, wondering all the time whether anyone else had tried, or has tried since, a similar take on film-making.

Having watched Day for Night and then read up again on what others think of it, I’ve come across all sorts of ideas: that the bus which careers round the square in the main shot is going too slow. Crikey, it looked to me it was a wonder a the speed it was going in such a confined space, circling the square, that no one was hit! That’s where the cleverness of the film is slowly established. Other shots (the film of the film shots) show how the extras are carefully walking, well away from the bus, though in Pamela’s shooting shot, it all looks a bit hairy because the tracking shot is sow low.

April 26, 2012 Posted by | film reflexivity, film technique, film within film, film [its techniques], francois truffaut, Godard, Godard/Truffaut, La Nuit Américaine, meta-film, referentiality, reflexivity, Truffaut | , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM Not watching films

This is spurred by reading Why Finish Books? by Tim parks in New York Review of Books (13 March 2012). It’s one of those you’ll lose the argument but have fun in the trying ones.

The New Wave: Truffaut, Godard, Chabrol, Rohmer, Rivette. Rivette?

My first dabble with Rivette was Jeanne la Pucelle (two disc set, Artificial Eye).

Where before have you seen a whole article dedicated to the idea of finishing a book? This is a kind of verboten in the world of culture. Not exactly a taboo, but admitting to failing with Tolstoy’s War and Peace, or more likely Proust, is so much about exposing one’s failings as a work from the literary canon. Though there are a few brave well-known souls who have admitted to finding a book everyone else says was a master-work everyone has to read as dry and dull as ditch water and that they gave up before page 50. (O.k, I admit to finding quite a few of William Golding hard to get into. Though there will come a time when the wind is up and in the right direction when they will seem like a good read.)

Feeling a little more confident after being urged to consider not finishing books, I’m getting to thinking there could be an equivalent for film. Even not to watch something at all. But hey, we do that for books too. Not read them. Ironically, we might read reams about a film’s qualities or failings or confusions or pointlessnesses, and then decide not to watch it. Or, that in the great scheme of things, and limited time, we have to make decisions about what to watch and what not to. Let’s leave out films we watch by mistake.

I don’t have a great deal of interest in films predominantly about people rehearsing plays. Truffaut’s Le Dernier Metro is an exception. But that wasn’t really all about play rehearsing.

I have this sinking feeling about the just over 12 hours of Rivette’s 01 which is deemed by many his master work.

Seeing the point of using film to portray rehearsals is not quite the same as being prepared to endure the filmic portrayal of them. Particularly perhaps starring Ben Gazzara in a improvisation. Did he do a play one? No idea. Mind you the more I read about 01 the more intriguing it becomes. That’s not to say the full 12 hours is high on my list of priorities.

Rivette: Out 1 (Volume 1) and Rivette: Out 1 (Volume 2) a dialogue (in two parts) by James Crawford and Michael Joshua Rowin, is a very interesting way to convince yourself not to bother with 01. Interesting ideas and clever quotes, my favourite so far is:

All of the Nouvelle Vague directors I hold dear address cinema from its first principles, like students learning the grammar of a foreign language—and then proceed to break, bend, twist, and ignore the ones they find the most limiting. Rivette finds displeasure in the strictures of storytelling soi-disant, and so, furthering his use of the vehicle as metaphor, lets his narrative motor idle, sputter, and eventually stall while he drifts over to the stuff he finds more intriguing. The problem is thus bequeathed to the spectators, who are asked to cast off their ossified conceptions of film’s ontological categories, and let the film resonate and wash about like music.

Writing this and working my way through both essays on 01 at the same time, it’s looking decidedly like the more I read about the film, the more I’m tempted to look at some of it. Strange to think reading about books, films, art, music, means you rarely if ever come to a work with your own eyes first, but after someone much cleverer and more articulate than you has thoroughly dissected it, broken it down, built it up again for you. A reason perhaps why the able few both do the study and then go out and make one of their own, ensuring the authentic first time experience. You thought it up. if you do – novel, play, film – you’re excused being suffused with intertextuality and referentiality and reflexivity. There’s really no escape from them.

April 26, 2012 Posted by | Chabrol, film watching, film [its techniques], francois truffaut, Godard, intertextuality, Jacques Rivette, referentiality, reflexivity, Rohmer | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM Michael Woods on Godard’s Breathless

At the Movies

Michael Woods, LRB, Vol. 32 No 14 ,22 July 2010

Short, interesting, enjoyable.

Qu’est-ce que c’est degueulasse? Oz Skinner takes it on in his blog Godard Montage.

In Musings on Godard’s 1960 classic, Robert Stanley Martin says:

The film’s ending presents them as tragic figures who can’t even commit to their own tragedy; they can only go through the motions of that as well. Godard highlights that with the film’s handling of a single word: dégueulasse.

Qu’est-ce que c’est dégueulasse? Needs a little examining of course. Strangely my very old Cassell’s (1930 edition) has the verb degueuler, v.i. (vulg.), to spew, vomit, but no examples. Further checking shows a more polite rendering would be degoutant. dégueulasse is from degueuler, to puke, to spew, and degueuler from guele, mouth.

Now: dégueulasse

With a bit of reverse translation, there is another nub: rotten “C’est dégueulasse de faire une chose pareille.” That’s a rotten thing to do.

Pas dégueulasse – not half bad : “Pas dégueulasse ce petite vin de pays.”

And finally, WordReference has the sort of list in my post on Haneke’s Caché: dégueulasse, which is pasted in full to get an instant grab of:

dégueulasse adj (dégueu) icky
dégueulasse adj vulgaire (répugnant) offensive, repugnant, disgusting
dégueulasse adj très familier (sale, vicieux) filthy
dégueulasse adj (sale) yucky
dégueulasse adj (injuste) lousy
dégueulasse adj (sans valeur) lousy
dégueulasse adj (sans valeur) crappy
dégueulasse adj hateful, despicable
dégueulasse adj crude, vulgar
dégueulasse adj gross, vulgar
dégueulasse n (expression de dépit) barf

Why worry. Enjoy the film again as depicted by Warren Craghead

April 12, 2012 Posted by | Godard, Jean-Luc Godard, New Wave | , , , | 1 Comment

FILM GODARD Le Mépris [1963] – reviews old and new

Le Mépris

French at Drake

Classic ‘Contempt’ gets a new life

Ty Burr, Boston Globe, 11 April, 2008

Contempt (1963): Masterpieces of World Cinema


Emanuel Levy (undated)

February 26, 2012 Posted by | Godard, Le Mepris [1963] | Leave a comment

FILM ESSAY For Ever Godard. Two or three things I know about European and American Cinema – Peder Grøngaard

For Ever Godard.

– Two or three things I know about European and American Cinema

Peder Grøngaard

P.O.V No. 12 – Comparing American and European Cinema

Jeremy Irons quote on American and European cinema

Nugget in section ‘A Story of a Film Being Made’: some details on why Godard chose a Hölderlin quote to come out of the mouth of Fritz Lang in Le Mepris.

February 25, 2012 Posted by | European cinema, Godard | , , | Leave a comment

FILM GODARD Bande à Part (Band of Outsiders, 1964)

Bande à Part

From Cinemania Dan Jardinedid a long post with plenty of stills, 15 July 2011, which links to reviews of a handful of other reviews of Godard’s.

February 24, 2012 Posted by | Godard | | Leave a comment

FILM GODARD Le Mepris [1963] – La méprise en Le Mépris

Still from beginning of Le Mepris – Raoul Coutard, cinematographer. These words are spoken in French and appear on this version in English subtitles.

At the end another dolly shot:

Watch Le Mépris (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963) – Part 11 (Youtube) to see the strange tracking shot with Odysseus shuffling sideways, to keep himself in frame, as the camera travels right to left.

“A simple film without a mystery, an Aristotelian film, stripped of appearance, Le Mepris proves in 149 shots that in the cinema, as in life, there is no secret, nothing to elucidate, merely the need to live – and to make films”

– Jean-Luc Godard in Godard on Godard.

Up to a point, Lord Copper

Godard is quoted unatributed in Le Mépris: Analysis of mise-en-scène by Roberto Donati, Offscreen, 30 November: 2009

‘C’est un film simple sur des choses compliquées’
-Jean-Luc Godard

This article together with The Eye of the Beholder: Marital Discord and Film Making in Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Mepris by Jason Mark Scott form essential reading for this film.

From The Film Club of Caen website Mempris page :

Le Mépris s’ouvre sur une phrase d’André Bazin : “le cinéma substitue à nos regards un monde qui s’accorde à nos désirs (cette phrase attribuée par Godard à André Bazin, est en fait, sous une forme légèrement différente “le cinéma est un regard qui se substitue au nôtre pour nous donner un monde accordé à nos désirs” de la plume de Michel Mourlet dans son article Sur un art ignoré publié dans le n° 98 des Cahiers du cinéma)

Contempt opens with a sentence of André Bazin, “The Cinema substitutes by our gaze a world that accords with our desires (this sentence attributed by Godard to André Bazin, is in fact, a slightly different form of, ” film, is a look that is substituted for our own to give us a world in accord with our desires” penned by Michel Mourlet in his article on an overlooked art published in Issue 98 of Cahiers du Cinema)

The Eye of the Beholder: Marital Discord and Film Making in Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Mepris

Jason Mark Scott, Offscreen 31 August 2008 :

Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Mepris (Contempt, 1963) is routinely cited alongside Francois Truffaut’s La Nuit Américaine (Day For Night, 1973) and Federico Fellini’s 8 ½ (1963) as one of the great European films about film making itself. However, Le Mepris sits uneasily alongside those films. Whereas the Truffaut and Fellini films are almost entirely given over to satirical meditations on the film making process, Godard’s film is first and foremost a portrait of a marriage, with textual reflections on the nature of cinema ultimately existing only so as to suggest the ways in which love, and love of the image, can become detrimentally linked. As Phillip Lopate has observed, Le Mepris “moves us because it is essentially the story of a marriage.” More precisely still, Godard’s film is the story of a film maker’s marriage.

Adding immediately after that when first released the reviews were unfavourable. Stanley Kauffmann

……suggested that the movie was likely to appeal only to “those interested in Brigitte Bardot’s behind.”

The bit that I’m taken with is:

During production, Raoul Coutard, the film’s cinematographer, told interviewers that “I am convinced that Godard is trying to explain something to his wife in Le Mepris. It’s a sort of letter”

If it was, it was a very long letter – though beautifully filmed by Coutard. Why shouldn’t film be about one’s personal journey? But how to make it watchable? I was hoping the scenes in the flat wouldn’t go on, but they did. Or is that the point? Maybe watch that section a few more times but that’ll hard since it’s not an entertainment. Probably just end up picking out all the things more careful watchers noticed about colours.


If a film-maker tends to include his own life and preoccupations in films he makes, then we can’t come to one of his films without pre-knowledge or pre-conceptions. We know the director, that’s why we chose to watch his film. If we end up being disappointed – the Piccolo/ Bardot falling out didn’t work for me – then on to his next effort. As with so many films I watch, the cinematography often rescues a film. True in buckets for Le Mepris.

Little parts of Le Mepris were amusing: the rushes scenes with Jack Palance as producer accusing the director, played by a real-life director, Fritz Lang (who the New wave auteurs admired), of not filming the agreed script, and ending up kicking can’s of film about in front of the viewing screen, finally picking up one and throwing it like a discus; producer Jack reading what he thought were apposite quotes from a minute book in his pocket. We may at first think these ready quotations are appropriate too, but with all the translating into three or four languages going on, who has the time to work it out; and Fritz Lang uttering words of wisdom: are these ideas and quotes the sort of thing Fritz Lang’s says anyway or something Godard wants him to say and doesn’t believe at all.


The same questions about films like Godard’s arise as they did about art, music, literature. Do we need to come forearmed with basic cultural knowledge in order to get anything out of them? If you come to Le Mepris knowing nothing of The Odyssey, then you are at a disadvantage. How is it possible to draw parallels between relationships in the film and in Homer without? In ignorance, this all passes you by till you read more about the film after watching it. Nothing wrong with that. But the one’s really getting something out Godard’s films as they are watched are the cognoscenti. The rest of us are in a way playing with fame – it’s a Godard, this is recommendation enough. Either read about it before hand and be forearmed, or afterwards and have it explained.


It struck me how a film-maker like Godard creates an archipelago of films, his life the water surrounding and dividing them, lapping on their shores. He can playfully refer to his own films or his own existence along this string of islands, his life always just off frame in any film he makes. Although the film is a recording of something he wants to put together, he sees the life and the work as contiguous and interchangeable. He clearly wants to make films, but when he’s living he’s preparing or making films as much as living his life. it’s a very intense process. He’s obsessed by film and works at it all the time. And at the end of the thought we see – fun if we could all do this! – that he can in any case make up for life’s deficiencies with film. But this is a power trip as well, because life will conform to your desires through film. You make actors do on film (or indeed on the theatre) what you want life to do but often does.

To move away from this film into the details of the lives of Godard and Karina, then threading the knowledge back into it and other films he has made, is not not a trivial pursuit.

Reading the Anna Karina entry in New Wave Film does help, though many film critics would argue for the material to stand for itself and not be propped up by the doings of the people who created it, but you can’t with Godard as you can’t with other New wave directors like Truffaut.

This 2 page piece, at the time of the publicity for the showing of the digitally re-mastered Pierrot le Fou, explains both sides more concisely.

Sexual Politics: Godard and Me

David Ehrenstein, LA Weekly, 15 April 2010

There is mention of a 1969 film on the relationship by Rivette, starring Bulle Ogier Jean-Pierre Kalfon, called L’Amour Fou.


L’Amour Fou (Jacques Rivette)

A 4:40 section of L’Amour Fou in Jacques Rivette: le Veilleur directed by Claire Denis & Serge Daney for “Cinéma, de notre temps” according to commenter carsecor.

Footnote 1 in Autodialogue by John Hughes

Footnote 1 is the text of the footnote Rosenbaum includes in his Rivette: Texts and Interviews.

“It seems possiblie that the following incident involving Godard and Anna Karina, described by Paul Gegauff, inspired the climatic scenes of destruction in L’amour fou:

‘Finally the door opened. What a scene! Jean-Luc, stark naked, in an icy, totally wrecked room. He had sent the piano flying in splinters, cut the strings, sawn the legs off the furniture, ripped the paintings, torn up the prints, slashed the hangings and curtains, shattered the telephone, broken the windows, drenched the carpet in India ink, smashed the vases, deciptated the busts, and all this methodically, in the spirit of Bonaparte rather than Attila, and much less concerned with revenge than with justice. All his clothes and Anna’s were lying on the ground in tatters, the sleeves slashed with a razor, in a mess of wine and broken glass. Jean-Luc’s first words appeared to be a justification: “Anyway, it’s a furnished flat.”

‘It was then, growing accustomed to the semi-darkness, that I noticed Anna on a sort of dais in the far corner of the room, also quite naked. With a top hat on her head, the sole survivor of the massacre, and her arms slowly waving, she was dancing a kind of lascivious jig. For a couple of hours Jean-Luc sat there in a prostrated silence right out of a Russian novel, in spite of himself admiring his wife’s shapely lines. “I’d offer you a glass of something,” he said, “only there aren’t any glasses left.” Then: “Go and buy us a couple of raincoats so that we can go out.”‘ (‘Salut les Coquins!’, Lui No. 84, Jan. 1971, p. 106.)”

(Rivette: Texts & Interviews, p. 94-5) (Ed.)

wiki:Paul Gégauff

February 15, 2012 Posted by | Godard, Le Mepris [1963] | | Leave a comment

FILM When Truffaut met Godard

When Truffaut met Godard


Tobias Grey

Financial Times, 21 January, 2011

February 14, 2012 Posted by | Godard, Godard/Truffaut, Truffaut | , , , | Leave a comment

FILM DIRECTOR TRUFFAUT ~ ~ 6 February 1932 – 21 October 1984 ~ ~ ” Le Cinema Règne” ~

Or perhaps as Truffault might have preferred:

Perhaps as we write, speak, play with images and ideas about Truffaut, M. Godard will be playing with the Truffault Google Doodle as well:

François Truffaut’s Google doodle is a modern memento mori

Google’s Doodle for 6 February 2013 – Truffaut would have been 80. Fun to imagine what it would be like to compare the filmography of Truffaut and Godard, both alive today. Would they have made friends again?

February 14, 2012 Posted by | film within film, Godard, Godard/Truffaut, Truffaut | , | Leave a comment

FILM Pierrot le Fou and Post-New Wave French Cinema

Studies in French Cinema: UK Perspectives 1985-2010 GoogleBook


Will Higbee, Sarah Leahy

Chapter 2

Pierrot le Fou and Post-New Wave French Cinema

This GoogleBook chapter is complete and could be classified as the complete guide to Godard’s Pierrot le Fou, for those who watch art house films but often don’t have the faintest idea what is going on. If you have a deep knowledge of all aspects of culture, you might watch this and understand it fully first time. I didn’t. I got something about it being a film as a cartoon, in which the characters in the film spent some of their time reading out the cartoon in which they were acting out. Plus a few other bits.

Here it’s explained in full, so you can now watch it a second, or is it third time, with greater understanding.

February 8, 2012 Posted by | Godard, Pierrot le Fou, post-New Wave | , | Leave a comment

FILM ESSAY Godard Moviemaker Magazine Issue #38 [April/May 2000]

This is a one page scroll (roughly equivalent to about 4 pages of A4) on Godard from Moviemaker April/may 2000. Can’t find title or author, so it’ll have to go up like this for now :

This is the result of a search for Godard in Moviemaker

February 8, 2012 Posted by | Godard | Leave a comment