Wednesday, September 28, 2022

rewriting sentences

Héloïse Godet, on Godard 

I remember, while we were shooting some scenes of “Goodbye to Language” in Jean-Luc Godard’s own house, the protocol had us enter through the backdoor, which they called the “entrance of the artists.”...

When we heard Godard enter his house through the main door, with a big wrought-iron key, we joined him in his small living room....

“Feel free to check out any of my books, as long as you put them back where they belong.”

To be honest, his natural authority could be rather challenging at times. The set was silent and focused. Dedicated. But his steel attitude would occasionally melt into a warm smile. He came up with funny jokes or proved extremely thoughtful towards us. When that happened, I remember feeling relieved, and finding him absolutely endearing....

He really had his ways that I never experienced elsewhere! For example, here’s how he directed actors: He gave Kamel and me an abstract art painting as a representation of our characters.... But he made sure to ask: “Do you have any questions?” And he added: “No, you won’t have any.”...

Godard was composing his painting and the bodies of actors were like one color among others in an experimental narrative.

When he directed me physically, he explained each gesture clearly, like a choreographer, and scenes were launched by this signal: “I say go, you count to three, and you go. So… Go.”

As he was so playful, I now wonder if he counted until three before his own final “Go.” Rest in Peace, Jean-Luc Godard.

I remember an image of Danielle Huillet, sitting on the floor during rehearsals, elbows in her lap, hands together, fingers together pointed up, then clapping to begin a scene. It was a gesture of authority, casual from repetition. Film is not a democratic medium. It's less democratic than theater—there's less room for it—and the asceticism of Straub-Huillet is monastic. Philosophy is authoritarian by definition. If radicalism can mean democratic, Catholic radicalism is an oxymoron.

Reading and listening to discussions of Godard. It's going to be a while till history separates the brilliance from the idiocy. And I still love the idiocy.

Fredric Jameson, at Sidecar, the first and last paragraphs—the nostalgia for his own past, the long hangover.

After decades in which inscrutable titles signed Godard popped up as regularly as clockwork in the film festivals, while the image of their maker deteriorated from rebel into dirty old man, if not technologically obsessed sage, it is stunning, leafing through the filmographies, to remember how much these films counted as events for us as we waited for each new and unexpected one in the 1960s, how intensely we scrutinized the political engagements of the Dziga Vertov group, with what genuinely engaged curiosity we asked ourselves what the end of the political period would bring, and later on what we were to do with the final works of the ‘humanist’ period, where they came from, and whether they meant a falling off or a genuine renewal....

He lived, ate, breathed, slept movies. Was he the greatest movie-maker of all time? A party game question. What he was, if anything, was Cinema itself, cinema rediscovered at its moment of disappearing. If cinema really is dying, then he died with it; or better still, it died with him.

"I have always confused cinema with life." The schoolboy believes the world ends when he does. It doesn't.  And movies aren't dead. 

The jump cuts in Godard, like the awkwardness in Picasso and Schoenberg's move to serialism: the need to indulge and undermine the root impulse towards melodrama: from id to superego, from childishness to condemnation—or distance, mannered in James and Eliot, or not, in Cezanne. The move to abstraction beginning in fear, the insecurity of boys. It's not true for everyone, Turner, Degas, Mallarmé.


There's an attitude in Godard, despite the assertions of wanting to converse, that says, Don't argue or cross me about such things. And this book does not alter the notion of his brilliant immaturity. The most fascinating point of all applies more broadly than to Godard; it reaches out to anyone who believes that film is more important than the world. Maybe film is not the great new language of engagement with the world that Bazin hoped it would be. Perhaps it is, instead, a vehicle more suited to dreaming, sensationalism and not wanting to grow up. Perhaps language--the construct of words--was always subtler, deeper and more humane. 

"Expressionism is the emotion escaping the denial of emotion; it’s  the melodrama behind positivism, from Vienna to Weimar. In the atomic age, of technocratic order and annihilation, it’s the relation of Strangelove to von Neumann."

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