Saturday, November 26, 2022

Scorsese on Godard
When you’re watching an actor in a fiction, to what degree are you watching a character and to what degree are you watching a human being in action? What exactly is a story on film—is a shot or a sequence of shots equivalent to paragraphs in a novel, is it instants of ongoing reality recorded by the camera, or is it both at once? Only someone who loved the cinema as much as Godard and who knew it as well as he did could have asked these questions and approached them with such a mixture of rigor and freedom. 

All art is documentary: the record of an event. And all documentary is fiction.

This made me laugh. 

My favorite of Godard’s films is Contempt. It’s a genuinely tragic experience, a film about real betrayal: the betrayal of a wife by her husband, the betrayal of cinema (personified by Fritz Lang as himself—his spirit also haunts Jacques Rivette’s Paris Belongs to Us) by Jack Palance’s producer, the betrayal of Homer, of myth, of antiquity. The final moment, when the camera pans away from the film being made to the calm ocean in the distance over calls for silence, never fails to move me deeply. It’s an elegy for cinema, for love, for honor, for western civilization itself.

The top bit was quoted elsewhere by someone who wouldn't pay attention to the second.  Art is conservative or its reactionary. Bourgeois vulgarianism and aristocratic sadness. Get the joke now?

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