Monday, December 3, 2007

Jean-Luc Godard Is 77 Today


Today is Jean-Luc Godard's birthday. I love Godard...I absolutely adore him. He was the first French director I ever really fell in love with, and his films have led me to so many other directors and for that I will always be grateful. As I get older I find myself gravitating more and more towards his peers like Truffaut, Rohmer and Rivette but Godard will always be the man...he will always be the one who first made me question what cinema was, and the one who in film after film gave me the answer. So for his birthday here are a few things I love about Jean-Luc Godard.

I love your early black and white pictures like BREATHLESS, MY LIFE TO LIVE and THE LITTLE SOLDIER. I love the grain, the shadows and the way you seem to be reinventing the cinema you had loved so much as a youth in every frame.

I love those early eye popping color features and the way you photographed Anna Karina and Brigitte Bardot in them. Films like A WOMAN IS A WOMAN, PIERROT LE FOU and COMTEMPT are among the most beautiful and trans-formative films ever made. I feel changed every time I watch them.

I love when you got more and more political, nasty and angry...that two or three year period just before you announced the 'end of cinema' during those closing credits of WEEKEND when you made TWO OR THREE THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER and MADE IN U.S.A. You were like a beautifully bruised punk poet scraping together the last cinematic evidence of a period that would quickly be over.

I love your difficult video productions of the seventies, and think that many of your greatest work can be found in these pieces. Films like NUMBER TWO continue to haunt and invigorate anyone lucky to come across out of print copies of them.

I especially love your '68 Comeback' as it was in 1980 with SLOW MOTION, possibly your greatest and most undervalued work. I love the films after as well like DETECTIVE and FIRST NAME CARMEN where you re-embraced film as your true love, but you didn't let go of the rage you found in the seventies.

I love you as the self described aging Swiss business man of the past twenty years still capable of transforming film into your own specific medium. I love that I can still feel you deconstructing and rebuilding this art form that you alone seem to totally grasp.

I love that you probably wouldn't give a damn what I love...

So happy birthday to one particular aging Swiss business man who at 77 is still changing lives and sticking it to the man as I type this. Here's to many more years of GODard...no one else has ever come close.

11 comments:

Brandon Colvin said...

Indeed, sir. And you didn't even mention "Masculin feminin!"

Tim Lucas said...

Without knowing it was Godard's birthday, I embarked on my viewing of HISTOIRE(S) DU CINÉMA tonight. It feels good to be back in his presence again, and it's definitely the deep end of the pool.

Steve Langton said...

Nice one! Great to see Godard on your blog. I didn't realise it was his birthday either. Some of my greatest cinema experiences involve his films; particularly BREATHLESS and DETECTIVE. I can remember seeing IN PRAISE OF LOVE at our local Indie cinema just days after catching MULHOLLAND DRIVE at the same palce and one of my friends remarked, "Hmm, two mysteries in two days". Happy birthday to the guy.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Brandon...Yea, there were several favorites in my haste that I didn't mention...no ALPHAVILLE either! What is wrong with me???

Thanks Tim,
Always good to hear from you here...check out the four volume book set that goes along with HISTOIRE(S) if you ever geta chance. A friend of mine got it for me a few years back and it is quite a thing to see...

Thanks Steve,
Wow, IN PRAISE OF LOVE and MULHOLLAND DRIVE in one day...your mind must have been particularly blown!! Thanks for the comments, and it is good to hear from another fan of DETECTIVE...

Jan said...

Jeremy, you have written some really fine stuff, but this on Godard is one of your best. It truly shows the effect fine film making can have on someone.
Jan

lettyo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cinebeats said...

What a wonderful, very warm and personal tribute to Godard! There's something oddly comforting in knowing he's still alive and as angry as ever. Especially when so many great filmmakers like Antonioni and Bergman have left the earth this year. While I don't always agree with Godard, I always respect him and his work as a filmmaker is astonishing and inspiring.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Jan,
I really appreciate the nice comments. Glad you enjoyed it...

Thanks Lettyo,
I wish I was responsible for that image but I'm not. I don't know where it came from originally as it has popped up on so many sites...it is very cool isn't it?
Thanks for commenting...

Thanks Kimberly,
Great comments...I totally agree with your thoughts and loved reading them...thanks again for the comments

Rogue Spy 007 said...

What a wonderful tribute to a brilliant filmmaker. I don't agree with him on his politics, but I think he's made some outstanding films over the years. I wish him a Happy Birthday. It's nice to know that his and my birthdays were so close together. It is cool that some of the legendary filmmakers are still alive. I respect his vision very much.

Anonymous said...

whichever way one looks at cinema
one comes back to the crux of it all.jean luc godard.who else.after marx darwin freud and the semioticians the one person who stands out alongside sartre is none other than the one and only enfant terrible of world cinema.who else but the inimitable and the indomitable hans lucas alias jlg.anonymous opinion subjective.

Carl Engels said...

I beg your pardon for my delayed comment, but I had just spotted your blog and your notes about Godard. I really enjoy your notes, though, in my opinion your view on the political aspect of his movies falls somewhat short.

Godard has been and always will be at first and foremost a political movie maker. You will find this thesis underlined, when you remember for instance his not long ago movie "Film socialisme" from 2010.

His ideas about socialism (/critical thoughts about capitalism) are always present in his movies, be it the way he has and still produces and distributes his movies or the way the movies deal with the content itself (Adieu au langage).

Like you I adore Godard, though, I love the Nouvelle Vague movement in general. Beyond that, Godard even today represents more than any other director the spirit of the critical theory of Adorno, Horkheimer, Benjamin, Marcuse or Fromm.

What I want to say is, Godard is still revolting cinema, not just technically, but in the way how to contemplate on the world.

While Adorno took the view critics on society will be assimilated by a totalitarian system, therefore he assumed the necessity to change the minds first before changing society, Marcuse advocated a more optimistic view. Marcuse had the idea that art that is subversive and critical can very well change the society (for further information on Marcuses thoughts about aesthetics pls see his colletcted works).

Godard's art is subversive and critical (just remember his movie week-end, la Chinoise, Adieu au langage, aso). Short after his early work he began to contribute the idea of corroding the process of assimilation in a totalitarian system. The way he does is the way how he learns us to regard art, habits, society and cinema itself, of course.