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Archive for May 18th, 2012

by Allan Fish

(France 1988-1998 276m) DVD1/2

Aka. Tales of the Cinema

A margin of indefiniteness

d/w  Jean-Luc Godard  ph  Pierre Binggeli, Herve Duhamel  m  Belá Bártok, Bernard Herrmann, Dimitri Sostokovich, Arvo Pärt, Franz Schubert, Arthur Honegger, Ludwig van Beethoven, J.S.Bach, Leonard Cohen, etc

narrated by Jean-Luc Godard, with Julie Delpy, Juliette Binoche

Think back to that magnificent opening to Zemeckis’ otherwise tepid Contact, in which, the further we retreat back from Earth, the older the sounds we hear, mirroring how long it takes these sounds to travel through space, from the Spice Girls, through the Dallas theme, Nixon, Neil Armstrong, Martin Luther King, the Kennedy assassination, Dean Martin, the McCarthy witch hunts, Glenn Miller, Roosevelt, to Hitler and ‘We’re in the Money’ as we pass out of the edge of the galaxy.

Around the same time as the effects boffins were working on that piece in sunny Hollywood, Jean-Luc Godard was finishing off an enterprise he had begun a decade earlier.  If the sound bites of the first part of Godard’s piece, shot in 1988, were part of that audio track back through the cosmos, they would have been heard just before Mars came into view.  And Godard’s film holds something in common with the sequence discussed, in that it encourages the viewer to juxtapose various images and sounds and even words together that may not, at first, seem to have direct meaning.  In the opening instalment, for example, Godard is sat in front of his electronic typewriter, thinking about where to even begin this journey through film history.  Films come to mind, and are spoken aloud, but it’s not images of these films that we see accompanying them.  So La Règle du Jeu is uttered, but it’s images of Chaplin we see.  Cries and Whispers follows, and pictures of Ida Lupino illustrate… (more…)

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