The Work of Jean-Luc Godard and Anne-Marie Miéville
Publication Year: 2013
Jean-Luc Godard and Anne-Marie Miéville are among the most important postwar filmmakers; they have worked across forms, across media, and across countries. This book, the first to be devoted specifically to the work they did together, examines the way they expanded the possibilities of cinema by using cutting-edge video equipment in a constant search for a new kind of filmmaking.
Two Bicycles examines all of the films, videos, and television works that the two did together, and moves slowly across France and Switzerland, with detours in Quebec, Mozambique, and Palestine. Their amazingly varied body of work includes a twelve-hour television series, some experimental videos, an acclaimed feature film with Isabelle Huppert, a cigarette commercial, and much else. Overall the book shows the degree to which this work departs radically from the legacy of the French New Wave, and in many ways shows signs of having been formed by the distinct culture of Switzerland, to which Godard and Miéville returned in the 1970s to set up their “atelier,” Sonimage.
Two Bicycles offers a chance to explore a body of work that is as unique and demanding as it is rich and revelatory. Godard and Miéville have worked together for four decades but have never seemed more relevant.
Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Series: Film and Media Studies
Title Page, Copyright Page
...Writing this book has been a very long road. I began it as a childless Albertan; I finish it as a Nova Scotian father of two school-age boys. It began with the support of James Naremore and Joan Catapano, and I have remained grateful for that throughout this process. It was brought to fruition by Lisa Quinn, WLU’s indomitable editor, and I am also grateful for the faith and confidence...
Chapter 1: Introduction
...The work of Jean-Luc Godard is both voluminous and widely celebrated. This is as it should be; he is a great filmmaker, someone who has spent a career rigorously rethinking the fundamentals of his medium (film) and its neighbouring media (television and video). Anne-Marie Miéville’s work as a filmmaker seems, at first glance, to pale in comparison. She has directed several noteworthy works, and to judge from them, it might seem that she could be filed under the category “interesting Swiss filmmaker,” hardly a classification...
Chapter 2: Abandonments
...understanding Godard and Miéville’s work together because all of these abandoned projects that I discuss here (and there are other projects that Godard abandoned that I do not cover) engage with the thematic and formal problems that give their shared oeuvre shape: the search for a form that moves beyond the fiction / documentary split, a concern with the process and difficulties of communication, and a desire to move out of Paris and make cinema in and about more marginal communities, places, and forms: African...
Chapter 3: Communication
...I made the case in Chapter 1 that Godard and Miéville’s career can be broken into three distinct phases: Communication, Realization, and Reconsideration. These phases, of course, flow into one another and overlap. One way that the “Communication” phase (which is to say the period of the 1970s) is often explained is that it is Godard and Miéville’s “Sonimage Period.” During this period, they were co-owners of a company called Sonimage, based in Grenoble...
Chapter 4: Realization
...engagements (the Palestinian struggle, the revolution in Portugal, a critique of the rise of television-led consumer capitalism), these “Realization” films are more closely engaged with interpersonal matters, specifically with the ways that men and women try (and often fail) to communicate and form intimate bonds. Of course, these kinds of considerations have political and philosophical meanings, and these works investigate these...
Chapter 5: Reconsideration
...I call this discussion of the last part of Godard and Miéville’s career “Reconsideration” because it seems haunted by uncertainty, by a vague sense that this project that they had shared for two decades—the 1970s and 1980s—was coming to an end. Part of this uncertainty is driven by extratextual concerns, specifically Miéville’s growing interest in her own feature...
Chapter 6: Conclusion
...I began this book by contrasting the fame of its two subjects: Jean-Luc Godard, the hero of the French New Wave, and Anne-Marie Miéville, the interesting but less well-known Swiss filmmaker. What I have tried to do throughout is to show that, together, they have been something else entirely—neither a hugely popular golden child nor a regional curiosity. Together, they have been a pair responsible for the most searching and nuanced negotiations...