Friday, 3 February 2012


Jean-Luc Godard’s collaboration with a museum comes at a point in his œuvre when his work is not reaching the size of audience enjoyed by his early films, whilst his name has never been so frequently evoked and celebrated. This apparent contradiction can be partly explained by the fact that the combination within a single film of a critical dimension and a capacity for entertainment has become less and less accepted. À bout de souffle (1960), Le Mépris (1963) and Pierrot le fou (1965) achieved a perfect blend of theoretical power and spectacular lyricism.

In the past the filmmaker has devoted considerable attention to reflecting on the conditions of a film’s production by disrupting spectatorial investment through techniques such as narrative rupture, looks to camera, interrupted music, non-linearity of events and so on. He has also frequently represented the cinematic ‘machine’ and deprived the viewer of illusion, while nonetheless retaining a certain lyricism. Similarly, the sudden breaks to which he subjects his borrowed musical extracts serve to defer, if not prevent, the formation of his characters.

Collage(s) de France was a response to something for which the filmmaker had often been reproached: not telling a story. One day he jokingly recalled how he used to be reprimanded as a child (‘Don’t tell stories’), whereas in his work as a filmmaker he is now asked by producers to tell them. In fact he has always sought a balance between fiction and ethical gesture.

LALANNE: The HADOPI law, for example, or the matter of prosecuting downloads, or the property of images...

GODARD: I'm against HADOPI, of course. There's no intellectual property. I'm against estates, for example. That the children of an artist might enjoy the rights of their parents' body of work, why not, until they come of age. But afterward — I see no evidence that Ravel's children are getting their hands on the rights for the Boléro...

LALANNE: You don't claim any rights over the images that any artists might be lifting from your films?

GODARD: Of course not. Besides, people are doing it, putting them up on the Internet, and for the most part they don't look very good... But I don't have the feeling that they're taking something away from me. I don't have the Internet. Anne-Marie [Miéville, his partner, and a filmmaker —JML] uses it. But in my film, there are images that come from the Internet, like those images of the two cats together.

LALANNE: The second-to-last quotation in the film is: "If the law is unjust, justice proceeds past the law..."

GODARD: It ties back in with the right of the author. Every DVD starts off with a title from the FBI criminalizing copies. I went for Pascal. But you might take something else away from that phrase. You might think about Roman Polanski's arrest, for example.

LALANNE: Is the idea of accomplishing a body of work, one which life granted you the time to complete, a matter that weighs upon you?

GODARD: No. I don't believe in the body of work. There are works, they might be produced in individual installments, but the body of work as a collection, the great oeuvre, I have no interest in it. I prefer to speak in terms of pathways. Along my course, there are highs and there are lows, there are attempts... I've towed the line a lot. You know, the most difficult thing is to tell a friend that what he's done isn't very good. I can't do it. Rohmer was brave enough to tell me at the time of the Cahiers that my critique of Strangers on a Train was bad. Rivette could say it too. And we paid a lot of attention to what Rivette thought. As for François Truffaut, he didn't forgive me for thinking his films were worthless. He also suffered from not ending up finding my films as worthless as I thought his own were.

LALANNE: Do you really think that Truffaut's films are worthless?

GODARD: No, not worthless... Not any more than anything else... Not any more than Chabrol's... But that wasn't the cinema we were dreaming of.

LALANNE: Posterity, leaving a trace behind — does this concern you?

GODARD: No, not at all.

LALANNE: But has it weighed upon you even for an instant?

GODARD: Never.

LALANNE: I have a hard time believing that. You can't make Pierrot le fou without having the urge to create a masterpiece, to be the champion of the world, to take your place in history forever...

GODARD: Maybe you're right. I had to stake that claim in my early works. I came back down to earth pretty quickly.

LALANNE: Do you think about your death?

GODARD: Yes, inevitably. With health problems... You end up being a lot more introspective than you used to be. Life changes. In any case, I've made a break with the social life for a long time now. I'd really like to take tennis back up again, which I had to stop due to knee-problems. When you get old, childhood starts coming back. It's good. And no, I don't get particularly distressed about dying.

LALANNE: You seem pretty detached...

GODARD: Mais au contraire! I'm very attached! [laughs] And further on this topic: Anne-Marie told me the other day that if she ever ends up outliving me, she'd write on my tombstone: "Au contraire..."

Longas horas submergida em tudo o que é JLG (JLG e não Jean-Luc Godard).
A obra actual de Godard e a sua tendência para descontruir a realidade e tudo o que já fez durante a Nouvelle Vague é algo que, de facto, não deve ser levado de ânimo leve. Requere uma análise, um estudo, acima de tudo um pensamento crítico, e se de início, desabituados a estas imagens provocadoras que criticam a contemporaneidade, nos sentimos confusos perante esta "novidade", quando nos damos ao trabalho de ver além do evidente, apercebemo-nos da sua clareza assertiva e pessimista. Mais do que isso, numa altura em que atentados à liberdade surgem sob a capa do respeito dos direitos de autor (que pouco remetem para os autores) é crucial ler e reflectir sobre o que diz Godard, quem um dia afirmou, tomando uma posição tipicamente extremista, "Le droit d'auter? L'auter n'a que des droits".
Para quem está interessado em ver mais das suas reflexões, estão aqui alguns vídeos que fazem parte de um pack intitulado Morceaux de conversations avec Jean-Luc Godard.

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