In his article called “A Beautiful Exception: Godard’s For Ever Mozart,” Fergus Daly quotes from what he calls “the best of the recent books on Godard,” The Cinema Alone by Michael Temple and James S. Williams. He is objecting to their characterization of Godard’s recent filmic concerns as “quite standard fare.” But what interests me is their enumeration of what they call his concerns: “the purity of origins, the infinite promise of invention, the compact between Méliès and Lumière, document and fiction, the betrayal of cinema’s popular mission and scientific vocation by Hollywood and spectacle, the death of the silents at the hands of the talkies, the ethical irresponsibility of cinema at crucial moments of contemporary history (Auschwitz, Hiroshima, Vietnam, Bosnia), the cancerous spread of global television, the slowly successive deaths of distinct national cinemas and so on.” (Fergus’ article appears in the booklet enclosed with the COHEN Film Collection’s DVD of Godard’s For Ever Mozart. His article first appeared in an Irish journal called Film West (no longer published) and also appeared in the online film journal Senses of Cinema. The DVD is from 2014, the film itself from 1996.)
Whether or not you agree with the authors that these are concerns in Godard’s films of the nineties, are any of these concerns, concerns of yours? I’d like to hear from you.
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And here is Jean-Luc Godard in a 1994 interview with Hal Hartley: “”Projection will disappear. And the possibility that was given by motion pictures will be missed. The possibility of there being a real audience — a group of people who have nothing in common, but, at a certain time of the day or the week, are able to look with other known neighbors at something bigger than they are. To look at their problems in big. Not in small. Because if it’s small, you can’t…It was big [in earlier days], so it was evident. And in the beginning there was not even talking. There was no need for that. Because it was more evident if there was no talking. Only in sports does there remain this fervor, which can even become violent. There’s this desire to see something big.” (The quoted interview also appears in the COHEN booklet accompanying the DVD of For Ever Mozart. Called “In Images We Trust” and done on May 5, 1994, the interview first appeared in Filmmaker Magazine.)
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In his biography of W. Somerset Maugham, Robert Calder writes: “Maugham’s attitude toward film, as he expressed in an article in 1921, was that the writer was the key figure and the director’s role is that of an interpreter. Filmmakers, he believed, would discover that it is ultimately futile to adapt stories for the screen from plays and novels and that the only advance in the art of cinema would come from original screenplays.” (Robert Calder, The Life of W. Somerset Maugham, St. Martin’s, 1989. First published in Great Britain by William Heinemann, Ltd.)
NEXT POST Friday December 26
See you at the movies,