Iconic filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, a figurehead of the French New Wave movement which pushed the envelope of cinematic storytelling methods back in the 1960s, has spent much of his career experimenting with form. That experimentation continues in the 88-year-old’s latest cinematic effort, The Image Book, which played at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The trailer has arrived, and I can say without hesitation that it’s unlike any trailer you’ve ever seen. Read More »
If one were to introduce Jean-Luc Godard’s first film, Breathless (1960), to a class of unassuming film students without first providing context, it may seem, to them, an exercise in the rote and familiar. The film’s referential nature began to permeate American cinema not long after its arrival (crystalizing, arguably, in the works of Quentin Tarantino in the 1990s) with the long-take becoming a staple of Western arthouse, the jump-cut featuring prominently the YouTube vlog, and other stylistic flourishes seeding the very tapestry that is our modern visual language. These, of course, were uncommon before the French New Wave. The context in question is partially the post-World War II dominance of American cinema, out of which Godard sought to explore — and subsequently, discombobulate from within — cinematic imagery, as if tapping in to a fractured cultural psyche. After all, the film’s protagonist Michel yearns for some fundamental Americanism, whether through romantic pursuit of an American woman or through a self-fashioned, Humphrey Bogart-inspired “gangster” persona. Point being, Godard and his peers lived in the shadow of a neatly functional, largely American filmic image, the vernacular of “a secret cult only for the initiated” (per his Criterion interview) and a paradigm he sought to upset in the process of exploring.
Fast forward fifty-eight years.
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