24 Thoughts on Jean-Luc Godard

October 16, 2013 | By Jay Anania

To mark the 50th anniversary of Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt, and on the occasion of a major retrospective of the director's work at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Film Department at the Cultural Services is delighted to present Godard & Me, a blog dedicated to the iconic French filmmaker. Throughout the fall, we will post thoughts and reflections on Godard and his work from film critics, scholars, students and fans.

24 Thoughts on Jean-Luc Godard


1 - began for me, as he did for many, with the staccato miracle Breathless, in which he and the actors pretended they were ‘telling a story’,  and in so doing changed, for many, the way films are made and seen.  

2 - does whatever he can to assure that we do not, ever, suspend our disbelief.

3 - treats advertising and mass media as characters, not milieux, and, not unrelated to this, he...

4 – regards printed text as pictures of words.

5 - shows us that in addition to all the borrowed arts used by filmmakers (photography, music, dance, speech, theatre, architecture etc), the essential cinematic art is its own: editing. And that...

6 -  sound editing is not less important to the ‘image’ than is picture editing.

7 - 's cuts feel like gunshots.

8 – did more than just intercut fiction and essay:  he gives fiction thecandid certainty of the essay, and gives the essay the the imaginative voice of  fiction, so that they become one and the same.

9 - asked the viewer to look not just into the frame but  also, and first, and mainly, at the frame. 

10 – creates ‘characters’ by showing us a documentary of actors creating characters. Every  moment of every (non-CGI) film is a documentary of what the camera is pointed at, and Godard seems to know, or honor,  this more than many others.

11 – had Jean Paul Belmondo change his mind too late about blowing his head off at the end of Pierrot Le Fou.  And then he let us hear and see Rimbaud’s ‘Eternity’.

12 – has many heirs who, appropriately, make films very different from his:   Lisandro Alonso, Bela Tarr, Abderrahmane Sissako,  to just start the surpising list.

13 - believes every word of Bresson’s Notes on Cinematography.  

17 -  made new the film interview when he sat across from Woody Allen with a camera and microphone.

14 – , in fact, Makes It New every time out the door, for instance his trailers, especially for Contempt.

16 - asks that the viewers keep their eyes and ears open for every single frame.

15 - 's films allow us see how they were made.

18 - always seems like a happy man, even when scowling.

19 – 's films have been the starting point for many filmmakers, though few have had the courage to follow him without hesitation.  

20 – is an historian.

21 – is a comedian.

22 -  became, or always was, a Romantic.

23 – , as people do, gets quieter as he ages.

24 – is a dawn of cinema.

About the author

Jay Anania makes experimental films, documentaries, and narrative features.  He lives in NYC.

What's your Godard experience: Are you a big fan or an ardent detractor? Have you seen all of his movies? Do you feel like a young Brigitte Bardot in Contempt sometimes? Do you feel like all one needs to make a movie is “a girl and a gun”? Let the comment box gathers your Godard’s outpourings and share with us what makes him such a buzz.

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