Jean-Luc Godard's Vivre Sa Vie.
Long heralded as a beacon of the French New Wave and a treasured figure for cineastes, the Film Society of Lincoln Center announced complete details for its upcoming Jean-Luc Godard series. Titled Jean-Luc Godard – The Spirit of the Forms, the three-week retrospective debuts October 9, during the second week of the 51st New York Film Festival, and continues through October 30.
Today's announcement includes dozens of features and shorts Godard completed for the big screen and television from the early 60s to his latest feature, Film Socialisme (2010). Among the films joining the series are: Breathless (1960), Vivre Sa Vie (1962), Contempt (1963), Band of Outsiders (1964), Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1966), Letter to Jane (1972), Numéro Deux (1975), King Lear (1987), Nouvelle Vague (1990), in addition to television titles Six Fois Deux (1976), France/Tour/Détour/Deux Enfants (1979), and the eight-part video project Histoire(s) du Cinema, which he began in the late '80s and completed in '98.
Today's additions join previously announced titles: Alphaville (1965), Weekend (1968), Hail Mary/The Book of Mary (1985), and For Ever Mozart (1996), which will screen during NYFF. Nineteen Godard films have screened at the annual New York Film Festival over the decades.
"Jean-Luc Godard is one of the few undeniable names in cinema," said NYFF Director of Programming and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones. "No one has more bravely—or consistently—reinvented him or herself as an artist. No matter how well you may think you know his films, every new viewing comes as a shock. I know this from personal experience. No matter how many times I’ve seen La Chinoise, France/Tour/Detour/Deux Enfants, Nouvelle Vague or The Old Place, every new viewing leaves me astonished and open. Like all great artists, Godard is always with us, walking by our side.
Between 1955 and today, Godard has made 45 shorts, 11 medium-length films, 40 features, three television series, as well as of commercials, and several of his own trailers.
Noted Film Society about Godard's five-plus decades of filmmaking: "Throughout every 'period' of his working life—his early heyday with the French New Wave, his explicitly political films made in collaboration with Jean-Pierre Gorin in the aftermath of May ’68 in France, his collaborative television and video work in Switzerland during the '70s with Anne-Marie Miéville, his movement between film and video from the '80s onward—he has always continually ventured into new territory."
Jean-Luc Godard’s films have regularly screened in NYFF's Main Slate. Among the many NYFF-screened films that will be revisited during the retrospective will be: Le Petit Soldat (1960), A Woman Is a Woman (1961), Les Carabiniers (1962), Band of Outsiders (1964), Alphaville (1965), Pierrot Le Fou (1965), Made In U.S.A. (1966), Masculin Féminin (1966), 2 Or 3 Things I Know About Her (1966), Weekend (1967), Le Gai Savoir (1968), Wind From the East (1969), Tout Va Bien (1972), Every Man For Himself (1979), Hail Mary (1985), Nouvelle Vague (1990), In Praise of Love (2001), Notre Musique (2004) and Film Socialisme (2010).
General public tickets for Jean-Luc Godard – The Spirit of the Forms are now on sale. For the complete lineup and more information, head to the series page.
Alphaville (1965) 99 min
“Humble secret agent” Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) arrives from the Outlands in Alphaville, the becalmed territory ruled by the computer Alpha 60 where “No one has ever lived in the past, no one will ever live in the future, the present is the form of all life.” When Caution meets Natacha Von Braun (Anna Karina), the forbidden, illogical power of love opens the path to liberation. All of science fiction is a commentary on the present by way of an imagined future; Godard visually abstracted the Paris of 1964 by way of 1940s Hollywood in order to foreground its smoothly engineered consumer-driven impersonality. ALPHAVILLE is presented as a new DCP from Rialto Pictures.
Band Of Outsiders (Bande à part) (1964) 95 min
One of Godard’s most beloved films, based on Dolores Hitchens’ novel Fools’ Gold. Godard’s pitch? “Alice in Wonderland meets Franz Kafka.” But that doesn’t quite account for the magical spell that the film casts, which has a lot to do with the youth and grace of its three young stars Anna Karina, Sami Frey and Claude Brasseur; with Godard’s freedom of invention, which allows him to move from reverie to the antic to the unexpected celebration of sheer movement that is the now-canonical Madison scene; and, in Manny Farber’s words, “the inclement charm Godard gets from drizzly weather.”
Breathless (A bout de souffle) (1960) 90 min
How much more can possibly be said of this fresh, buoyant, surprising film about a small-time gangster on the run (Jean-Paul Belmondo) and his capricious American girlfriend (Jean Seberg)? The denatured post-synched sound…the vivacity of Raoul Coutard’s cinematography…the springy pace that seems to skip like a stone across the action…the beauty of Belmondo and Seberg in motion…the byway into an extended lovers’ dialogue…the energy of Breathless seems self-replenishing.
British Sounds (1969) 52 min
This commission from Kestrel Productions – a blunt 52 minutes of political sloganeering, with opening and penultimate images (followed by a waving red flag) of fists punching through the Union Jack and readings from The Communist Manifesto. Two films later, Jean-Pierre Gorin would work with Godard to take his left-wing cinema beyond mere agitprop.
Les Carabiniers (1963) 80 min
Godard’s bolt from the blue, shot to evoke the look and the energy of early cinema, about two lame-brained guys in an imaginary country who leave their wives to go to war, where they pillage and plunder and from which they later return with their spoils. An assault on the audience, explicitly derived from Brecht, the film was destroyed by critics and ignored by audiences. Half a century later, it is one of Godard’s most curious films, as visually rich as it is tonally coarse and blunt.
La Chinoise (1966) 96 min
Godard’s film about a Maoist student cell living, working, and playing the revolution, with Jean-Pierre Léaud, Juliette Berto, Michel Semeniako and Godard’s soon-to-be second wife Anne Wiazemsky, whose Véronique debates her former teacher Françis Jeanson (as himself) about the utility and morality of terrorist action in the service of the revolution in one of the most riveting sequences Godard had ever directed (aboard a moving train). A brightly colored, politically sharp, and quite poignant film. “Godard is the only contemporary director with the ability to express through graceful cinema what young people are feeling at this time in world history,” wrote Andrew Sarris.
Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville.
Cinétracts (selection) (1968) 40 min
Godard’s on the spot, edited-in-camera filmed reports from the barricades during the events of May 1968.
Comment Ça Va (1978) 78 min
In 1975, Godard saw a photograph in Libération of Portuguese soldiers protesting their country’s military government. Godard reckoned that the image should not have been accompanied by an explanatory text but by another image of a striking worker confronting a policeman in Brittany in 1972, in order to allow these two “comrade photos” to speak to one another. Thus began Comment Ça Va, a lovely, muted film-video hybrid work, in which a need to inquire about the nature of audio-visual communication and to understand it on a personal level is split between multiple characters.
Contempt (Le Mépris) (1963) 102 min
Godard’s adaptation of Alberto Moravia’s novel – perhaps it was more of a springboard – had a million-dollar budget, half of which went to its star Brigitte Bardot, with a sizable portion of the rest going to Jack Palance and to Fritz Lang. With what little was left, Godard made what many now consider to be one of his greatest films in five weeks. Palance is the producer who brings screenwriter Michel Piccoli and his wife (Bardot) to Cinécittà to work on Lang’s adaptation of The Odyssey, and the conflicts between commerce and art, the ancient and the modern, the legendary and the mundane, the tender and the cruel commence.
Détective (1985) 95 min
“I’m a renaissance painter looking for commissions,” said Godard of this project that began as a gleam in producer Alain Sarde’s eye: Paris, pulp fiction, Claude Brasseur, Nathalie Baye, Johnny Halliday and an aging Jean-Pierre Léaud. After Godard and Miéville were through adapting Sarde’s story, the stuff about gangsters, detectives and bad debts became a backdrop for the relationship between Brasseur’s Emile and Baye’s Françoise. A fraught shoot, but a lovely film with surprising bursts of passion.
Early Shorts (88 min)
A program of Godard’s first shorts, including:
Opéation Béton (1955) 20 min
All The Boys Are Called Patrick (Tous les garçons s’appellent Patrick) (1957) 21 min
Une Histoire D’Eau (1958) 18 min
Charlotte Et Son Jules (1958) 20 min
Every Man For Himself (Sauve qui peut (La vie)) (1980) 84 min Countries: Switzerland/France
“What’s that music?” It’s the music of Godard’s return to (relatively) mainstream moviemaking, composed in four movements – The Imaginary, Fear, Commerce, and…Music – with Nathalie Baye and Jacques Dutronc as a kind of alter ego. “Somewhere on the screen he has captured the subtle reality of what it is to be a thinking, feeling being in these ridiculously convulsive times,” wrote Andrew Sarris.
Jean-Luc Godard's Film Socialisme.
Un Film Commes Les Autres (1968) 108 min
Two 54-minute segments, with identical successions of images but different soundtracks. Students from Nanterre (where May 68 more or less began) sit on the grass (shot from the neck down) and discuss where the movement will go next; two Renault workers discuss their own ideas of a revolutionary future – their images are intercut with black and white footage of May 68, their words mingle with Godard’s own rhetoric. When the film was shown at the 1968 New York Film Festival, Godard told the projectionist to flip a coin and decided on the spot which 16mm reel to begin with. According to D.A. Pennebaker, the American distributor, the audience “began to tear up their seats.”
Film Socialisme (2010) 102 min
Another triptych, the first and most mesmerizing section of which takes place aboard an ocean liner (the Costa Concordia to be exact, which would later run aground on the west coast of Italy) and is a stately yet relentless portrait of the pursuit of packaged “leisure,” rendered in degraded images and sounds captured with cell phones. This is Godard’s first film shot entirely with digital cameras, and, as Amy Taubin put it in Film Comment, the images prove that Godard is “as much a master colorist in digital media as he has been in celluloid.”
First Name: Carmen (Prénom Carmen) (1983) 85 min
The early 80s brought no less than four new re-imagined versions of Prosper Mérimée’s 1845 novella: Peter Brook’s pared down stage version and Francesco Rosi’s full-throttled film, both based on Bizet’s opera; Carlos Saura’s flamenco Carmen; and Godard’s powerfully physical modern rendering, which goes deep into sexual desire and longing and moves with the rhythms of Beethoven’s final quartet, with Maruschka Detmers, Jacques Bonnaffé, Myriem Roussel and JLG himself.
Armide (1987) 11 min
Godard’s contibution to the 1987 omnibus film Aria includes portions of Jean-Baptiste Lully’s 1686 opera, in which two lovely naked woman try, and fail, to attract a series of muscle men, hard at work in the gym.
For Ever Mozart (1996) 85 min
An acting troupe journeys to Bosnia to mount a production of Musset’s “On ne badine pas avec l’amour.” When the actors arrive, they are taken captive, tortured, and executed. Godard returned to the war in Sarajevo in his films and his short videos many times. This 1996 feature was the most sweeping of those projects. “It may be a depressing film made in honor of those who have shed blood,” wrote Olivier Séguret in Libération, “but it depends also on a mad physical exultation.” For Ever Mozart is presented as a new DCP from Cohen Media.
France/Tour/Detour/Deux Enfants (1977) 12 movements, 312 min
Godard was commissioned by the Antenne 2 TV channel to do a series based on the 19th century French children’s classic La Tour de la France avec deux enfants. The final result, co-created with Miéville – an utterly remarkable examination of childhood within the contexts of family, home, work, and the shared idea of life and time within the greater culture – may have displeased the TV executives, but it is, as Colin McCabe put it, “probably as great as anything Godard has ever done.”
Le Gai Savoir (1969) 95 min
Countries: France/West Germany
From a starting point of an adaptation of Rousseau’s Emilie, Godard made this vibrant, beautifully colored film about two young people, Jean-Pierre Léaud and Juliette Berto who “get together each night between midnight and dawn,” wrote Manny Farber, “to examine the meaning of words and the phenomena they describe. Practically all of the movie is structured on one static frontal image in boundaryless black depth, the edges of the two seated figures picked out by a powerful floodlight. This mysteriously inky-hot lighting is hypnotic, slowly joining usually unseen nooks and crannies in the sullen Léaud-Berto faces with some sense of the young leftists’ purpose and youthful energy.”
Germany Year 90 Nine-Zero (Allemagne 90 neuf zéro) (1991) 62 min
In 1989, producer Nicole Ruellé approached Ingmar Bergman, Wim Wenders, Stanley Kubrick and Godard to make a television film about solitude. Godard accepted the commission and decided to make a film not about the solitude of an individual but of a state: East Germany. A few months later, when there was no more East Germany, he conceived the idea of a Don Quixote character wandering through the former nation, and the character eventually became a reprise of Alphaville’s Lemmy Caution, reprised by the 73-year old Eddie Constantine, as a mole whose assignment collapses after the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. The result was a film, perhaps the only film, that captured the feeling of Europe after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Grandeur Et Décadence D’Un Petit Commerce de Cinéma (1986) 91 min
Godard took a TF1 commission to create a TV movie for the “Série Noire” series based on James Hadley Chase’s 1964 novel The Soft Centre, and turned in this funny, melancholy video piece about a director (Jean-Pierre Léaud) and a producer (comic filmmaker Jean-Pierre Mocky) who are trying to make a movie out of the Chase novel (sort of) in the old style: on the run, with a low budget, and with an eye on sublimity.
Hail Mary (Je vous salue Marie) (1985) 72 min
Hail Mary was condemned long before it was ever seen by the public, from Vatican City to Manhattan – anyone who attended a screening at the 1985 New York Film Festival will remember running a gauntlet of pamphleteers, prayer circles and newscasters outside Alice Tully Hall. The irony, of course, is that the film itself is far from blasphemous, but rather a glorious cinematic hymn, an attempt to reconcile spirit and flesh, science and nature. “Somehow I think we need faith, or I need faith, or I’m lacking in faith,” Godard told Katherine Dieckmann. “Therefore maybe I needed a story which is bigger than myself.”
The Book of Mary (Le Livre de Marie) (1985) 25 min.
Director: Anne-Marie Miéville
Preceded by Anne-Marie Miéville’s exquisite Book Of Mary, about the broken affections between a husband and wife through the eyes of their young daughter.
Notes On Hail Mary (Petites Notes à propos du film Je vous salue Marie) (1983) 20 min
Godard’s video notebook for Hail Mary.
Hélas Pour Moi (1993) 95 min
A detective (Bernard Verley) tries to verify a visitation from God, who has inhabited the body of Simon (Gérard Depardieu) in order to lie with his wife Rachel (Laurence Masliah). But Godard’s version of the legend of Zeus’s seduction of Alcmene in the form of Amphitryon is a secret journey through sound, light and shadow to the world of a man and a woman. Depardieu left halfway through, but Godard built a new film from his original conception and created a work of splendor and ferocity.
Histoire(s) Du Cinéma (1988-98) 8 chapters, 266 min
Godard began to think about his own audiovisual history of cinema in the late 70s. He began thinking of the project as a collaboration with Cinémathèque Française director Henri Langlois, then developed a series of lectures at Concordia University, and then started working on what would develop into an 8-part series one chapter at a time in the mid-80s. The result, a massive meditation on cinema within the framework of the 20th century and the greater history of visual art, is a truly monumental work.
Ici Et Ailleurs (1976) 60 min
In 1969, Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin were commissioned by the Arab League to make a film on the Palestinan struggle for independence. Godard returned many times to the middle east, and he and Gorin labored for years on the project. In 1974, he returned to the footage with Anne Marie Miéville, and he realized that there was a great, yawning gulf between what he and Gorin had wanted their proposed film Till Victory to say and what the militants themselves were telling them. In the new film built from the remains of the unfinished one, Godard re-positioned himself in relation the footage, and to militant political imperatives in general.
In Praise of Love (Eloge de l’amour) (2001) 97 min
Another slowly gestating project with a lengthy shoot, a direct evolution from Histoire(s) Du Cinéma and a way forward. In Praise of Love is structured as a diptych. The first half, set in Paris and shot in lustrous 35mm black and white, is about a young director (Bruno Putzulu) preparing a project on “the four stages of love”; in the second half, set two years before and shot in fauvist digital color, the same man visits an aging couple who have taken part in the resistance. That’s just the bare bones of a densely layered work – emotionally, visually and thematically – that speaks directly and movingly to the memory of love, as well as atrocity, betrayal and death.
JLG/JLG: Self Portrait In December (JLG/JLG – autoportrait de Décembre) (1994) 62 min
In the 90s, Godard was commissioned by Gaumont to make this film, a close look at himself and his place in the world (the world of his home, his immediate natural surroundings, the landscape of Europe, the historical span of his lifetime). A film that is by turns playful, somber and – when it settles on the heart-stopping image of the quiet heart of a snow-covered forest at twilight – exalted.
Keep Your Right Up (Soigne ta doite) (1987) 82 min
Godard as an “Idiot” film director modeled after Dostoyevsky’s Prince Myshkin, selling his work by the can; Jacques Villeret is “the Individual”; François Perier is “the Man” – and Les Rita Mitsouko are themselves, in the studio and the control room, as they record and mix. KEEP YOUR RIGHT UP is about speed – the speed of life, the speed of a jet plane and a moving train, the speed of thought – relative to “a place on earth.” It might be Godard’s most underrated film; in its Jerry Lewis-inspired sequences involving the Idiot, it is also one of his funniest.
King Lear (1987) 90 min
“I must insist that this movie, which has already been postponed so many times, will reach the Cannes festival,” says Cannon’s Menahem Golan to Godard under the opening movement of this eye-opening reconsideration of Shakespeare, couched within a story of his fictional ancestor (Peter Sellars), charged with the recreation of culture after the calamity of Chernobyl – he consults with a certain Dr. Pluggy, played by the director himself. The cast is as filled with stars as a northern sky, but the ravishing layers of sound and image and the profound faith in art are the real source of wonder.
Letter To Jane (1972) 52 min
Godard and Gorin’s meditation on and dissection of a famous image of their Tout Va Bien star Jane Fonda, taken during a trip to Hanoi, rendered on the soundtrack by the two filmmakers in hard-boiled English. Far from the dry-as-dust film of legend, this is a formidable piece of political analysis that reaches some kind of peak when they find a direct link between Fonda’s expression of caring for the Vietnamese peasants she’s talking to the same expression on her father’s face, thirty years before, in The Grapes of Wrath. “We made this film in the same way that you’d make a can opener,” said Gorin. A can-opener that’s built to last.
Made In U.S.A. (1966) 90 min
Godard’s harsh goodbye to his ex-wife Anna Karina began as an adaptation of Donald Westlake’s Richard Stark novel The Jugger, and was re-shaped by the details of the Ben Barka affair. Shot almost as quickly as A Married Woman, Made In U.S.A. seems to have been composed almost intuitively, one Cinemascope canvas and close-up of Karina at a time. The film was made in the midst of a great burst of artistic energy and productivity: a little more than a week after he finished shooting Made In U.S.A., Godard began shooting Two Or Three Things I Know About Her and at some point he created the trailer for Bresson’s Mouchette.
A Married Woman (Une femme mariée) (1964) 94 min
May, 1964 – Godard meets Luigi Chiarini, the director of the Venice Film Festival, who tells him that he is sorry to have missed the chance to present the premiere of Band of Outsiders. Godard tells Chiarini that he can have another movie ready by August, goes to Columbia Pictures and pitches a story of adultery to be called The Married Woman, and hires Macha Méril to play the lead. Godard shares his idea with Truffaut, and promises to move away from the direction that Truffaut had pursued with The Soft Skin. The result is an exciting hybrid of fiction and documentary, admired in Venice (yes, he made it in three months), initially banned by the censorship board, then approved after minor cuts and a change in the title from The to A.
Masculin Féminin (1966) 110 min
“Jean-Luc Godard’s graceful, intuitive examination of the courtship rites of ‘the children of Marx and Coca-Cola.’ The boy, a pop revolutionary (Jean-Pierre Léaud), is full of doubts and questions. The girl (Chantal Goya) is a ye-ye singer with a thin, reedy little voice; her face is haunting just because she seems so empty – she seems alive only when she’s looming in the mirror toying with her hair…Godard captures the awkwardnesses that reveal – the pauses, the pretensions, the mannerisms. He gets at the differences in the way girls are with each other and with boys, and boys with each other and with girls. Not just what they do, but how they smile and look away.” - Pauline Kael
Notre Musique (2004) 80 min
For many years, Godard has scored his films with pre-existing music, a great deal of it released by Manfred Eicher’s ECM Records. Notre Musique began as a film about ECM and Eicher, but, as has happened so often with Godard, it slowly changed over the years into something wholly different: a three-chapter (Hell, Purgatory and Paradise) meditation on the city of Sarajevo in the wake of the Bosnian war, on Palestine and Israel, on war itself. It is one of Godard’s most tonally delicate works, shifting from ferocity to somber calm to harmony between people and nature.
Nouvelle Vague (1990) 89 min
One of Godard’s most powerful and beautiful films, set on an estate in the lush Swiss countryside near a long and winding road where a wandering stranger (Alain Delon) is hit by a wealthy woman (Domeniziana Giordano) in a sports car, kept by her and then cast aside when the frustrating work of being a couple takes its toll. The dulling anxiety of maintaining money, the transcendent glory of wind and water, earth and sky, the strangeness of simply being alive – that’s Nouvelle Vague.
Numéro Deux (1975) 88 min
Is the family a landscape or is it a factory? And what about a mother, a father, a child? Godard’s first film after his Dziga-Vertov period was the result of multiple factors: his new partnership in life and work with Anne-Marie Miéville, his deep interest in video and his close relationship with Aäton founder Jean-Pierre Beauviala, who Godard followed to Grenoble. An extraordinarily complex work, a beehive of multiple images and sounds, generated by Godard’s excitement over video as a new creative and industrial tool.
Passion (1982) 88 min
Love and work…in a movie studio near a hotel down the road from a factory. A buoyant, often ecstatic film made in the teeth of the Polish Solidarity movement; a film singing with color and light, peopled with the faces and bodies of Isabelle Huppert, Jerzy Radziwilowicz, Hanna Schygulla, Michel Piccoli and László Szabó, the recreated light of Rembrandt and Rubens and the quattrocento (in the film within the film) contrasting and harmonizing with the clear winter sunlight of Switzerland.
Le Petit Soldat (1960) 88 min
Godard’s follow-up to Breathless, about a right-wing terrorist (Michel Subor) during the Algerian conflict (the film was made before the creation of the OAS) who falls in love with an FLN sympathizer (Anna Karina) and is then accused of being a double agent. A sad, existential chill pervades this painful film, which was banned outright when it was completed and was only released three years later. Almost 40 years later, Subor would reprise the role of Bruno Forestier in Claire Denis’ Beau Travail.
Pierrot Le Fou (1965) 110 min
Anna Karina and Jean-Paul Belmondo leave middle class life behind for a life on the run, out in the trees under the sun and the stars, by the wide blue sea. “The cinema is, as always, a director’s art,” wrote Andrew Sarris, “and feelings are expressed through actors rather than by them, but the point is still to see what is felt rather than to figure out what is meant, and in this respect the bleary-eyed Belmondo undoubtedly looks the way Godard felt when Godard was making Pierrot Le Fou, and the resultant unity of features and feelings is beautiful to behold.”
Pravda (1970) 58 min
Countries: West Germany/France
In April 1969, six months after the Soviet invasion, Godard went with a crew to shoot in Czechoslovakia. The resulting film was a verbal attack (in the form of a voiceover “dialogue” between Lenin and Rosa Luxembourg) on both Soviet and Czech revisionism and a crisp visual tour of the country.
Shorts Program 1 (152 min):
Les Enfants Jouent À La Russie (1993) 63 min
Pour Thomas Wainggai (1991) 3 min
Liberté Et Patrie (2002) 21 min
Origins of the 21st Century (De l’origine du XXIème siècle) (2000) 13 min
The Old Place (2002) 49 min
A selection of Godard’s later video/digital work: an extension of both Histoire(s) Du Cinéma and Keep Your Right Up, with Godard as the “Idiot Prince” director and László Szabó as “Jack Valenti”; Godard and Miéville’s contribution to the Amnesty International omnibus film Contre L'Oubli their contribution to the 2002 Swiss Expo, based on Charles Ferdinand Ramuz’s 1911 novel about a fictional Swiss painter named Aimé Pache; a commission from the 2000 Cannes Film Festival and one of Godard’s most devastating works; and a commission from MoMA, by Godard and Miéville, a genuinely great work.
Shorts Program 2 (109 min):
Scénario du Sauve Qui Peut (La Vie) (1979) 20 min
Scénario Du Film Passion (1982) 54 min
Changer D'Image (1982) 10 min
Puissance La Parole (1988) 25 min
A selection from Godard’s video work of the 80s, including the video scenarios for Every Man For Himself and Passion, a TV commission on the subject of “change” on the occasion of François Mitterand’s first anniversary in office, and an extraordinary 1988 commission from France Télécom.
Six Fois Deux/Sur Et Sous La Communication (1976) 600 min
When Godard was approached by the National Audiovisual Institute to make a 100-minute feature to fill one of six Sunday night slots on FR3, Godard made a counter-offer to fill all six slots, with the airdate for the first slot a month and a half away. His first foray into television, made with Miéville, was this 10-hour 12-part investigation of our place in the mass media universe. For Godard, it was just a beginning, a rough sketch. It remains a bracingly fresh work that sounds through the mediatized cacophony like a morning bell.
A selection of short films made by Godard and excerpted from omnibus films:
Le Nouveau Monde (1963) 20 min
Anticipation, Ou L’Amour En L’An 2000 (1967) 20 min
From Le Plus Vieux Métier Du Monde
Montparnasse-Levallois (1965) 18 min
from Paris Vu Par… and shot in glorious 16mm by the great Al Maysles.
Struggle In Italy (Lotte in Italia) (1971) 62 min
Godard and Gorin’s second film together and the first under the banner of the Dziga Vertov Group was financed by Italian television, a three-part study of a young revolutionary (Christina Tullio Altan) who realizes that she is not as committed as she had imagined, from a text by Louis Althusser.
Sympathy For the Devil (1968) 111 min
The Rolling Stones in the studio, recording the title song one track at a time; Anne Wiazemsky as “Eve Democracy,” sauntering through the woods and the streets of London in a diaphanous gown as she is being interviewed by a TV reporter. Despite the majesty of the film’s final boom shot – to be more precise, of Eve’s body draped across a soaring camera crane. The producer Iain Quarrier was unhappy that Godard had never included the finished version of the Stones song in the movie, originally called One Plus One. Quarrier froze the last image, let the lengthy song play out, and released it as Sympathy For the Devil. Godard punched him in the face and the stomach onstage at the London Film Festival.
Tout Va Bien (1972) 96 min
Before production began on Tout Va Bien, Godard had a motorcycle accident that put him in a coma for a week and resulted in a lengthy rehabilitation and recovery. Godard was seriously incapacitated during the making of this film about a left-wing filmmaker (Yves Montand) and journalist (Jane Fonda) who investigate a strike at a sausage factory, his last completed project with Jean-Pierre Gorin. The result is a film by turns melancholy and antic, the peak of Godard and Gorin’s partnership, inspired by Jerry Lewis in general and The Ladies Man in particular.
Trailer Program (60 min)
Unlike the majority of filmmakers from around the world, Godard made many of his own trailers. They will be presented in a package by the series co-curator Jake Perlin and projected on 35mm, including the trailer that Godard created for Bresson’s Mouchette.
Two Or Three Things I Know About Her (Deux ou trois choses que je sais d’elle) (1966) 87 min
Her is Marina Vlady as a Parisian housewife, supplementing her income by turning a few tricks on the side in order to afford the latest fashions and appliances; and Her is the city of Paris, as it undergoes a massive urban renewal. Godard and his cinematographer Raoul Coutard render both with the clarity and wonder of the first filmmakers, and Godard stretches his cinematic form to accommodate shifts in public and private spaces from consciousness to consciousness, including his own.
Vivre Sa Vie (1962) 82 min
Here is Manny Farber’s description of one of Godard’s greatest films, made with, and for, his wife Anna Karina: “The fall, brief rise, and death of a Joan of Sartre, a prostitute determined to be her own woman. The format is a condensed Dreiserian novel: Twelve near-uniform segments with chapter headings, the visual matter used to illustrate the captions and narrator’s comments. This is an extreme documentary, the most biting of his films, with sharp and drastic breaks in the continuity, grim but highly sensitive newsreel photography, a soundtrack taped in real bars and hotels as the film was shot and then left untouched. The unobtrusive acting inches along in little, scuttling steps, always in one direction, achieving a parched, memory-ridden beauty. A film of extraordinary purity.”
Vladimir and Rosa (1971) 92 min
Countries: France/West Germany
Godard and Gorin’s take on the trial of the Chicago Seven trial, shot in their editing suite, with actors declaiming their roles as Hoffman, Seale, Dellinger et al. against primary colored walls. When financier and Grove Press publisher Barney Rosset saw Vladimir and Rosa, he was shocked and deeply offended by the irreverence with which Godard and Gorin had treated his heroes. He screened it for Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, filmed them as they watched and caterwauled at the screen, and edited them into the movie (some of those prints have survived).
Weekend (1968) 105 min
Godard’s farewell to commercial cinema begins as a savage critique of French bourgeois/consumer culture and ends in a state of pastoral calm, along the way incorporating Georges Bataille, Frantz Fanon, Emily Brontë, cannibalism, Mozart’s 18th piano sonata played in the middle of a farmyard and Lautréamont’s “Chants de Maldoror” reinvented as a revolutionary anthem with a beat. With this unforgiving, incendiary and wildly inventive film, Godard not only caught the mood of the moment but anticipated the events of May 1968 by almost a year. Weekend will be shown in a new 35mm print, courtesy of Janus Films.
Caméra-Oeil (1967) 11 min
Godard’s contribution to the S.L.O.N. omnibus film Far From Vietnam, a montage of images from North Vietnamese films, La Chinoise and a 35mm camera with the filmmaker himself behind it and Godard’s voiceover in search of a concrete answer to the question: how is it possible, as a French filmmaker, to help the North Vietnamese in their struggle?
Wind From the East (Vent d’est) (1970) 100 min
Countries: Italy/France/West Germany
In 1969, the radical student leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit suggested the idea of making a left-wing spaghetti western in Italy to Godard, who wrote a story about the kidnapping of an executive by strikers and asked the left-wing Italian actor Gian-Maria Volonté to star. When the shoot devolved into complete chaos, Godard brought in his young friend Jean-Pierre Gorin, who was recuperating from a motorcycle accident. In the editing room, at Gorin’s urging, the film was re-shaped from a chronological narrative into a conceptually manufactured propaganda tool.
A Woman Is a Woman (Une Femme est une femme) (1961) 84 min
Godard’s third film is a thing of great beauty, a “neorealist musical” (with a score by Michel Legrand – actually, in Godard’s words, “the idea of a musical, nostalgia for the musical” – but no less magical for that) about a woman (Anna Karina) who wants to have a baby with the man she lives with (Jean-Claude Brialy) but who turns to his friend (Jean-Paul Belmondo) – will either of themselves be able to turn away from themselves and give her what she wants? A richly colored, funny, and moving film about one of Godard’s great subjects: being a couple.