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Jean-Luc Godard, Cinema Historian

Michael Witt

Publication Year: 2013

Originally released as a videographic experiment in film history, Jean-Luc Godard's Histoire(s) du cinéma has been widely hailed as a landmark in how we think about and narrate cinema history, and in how history is taught through cinema. In this stunningly illustrated volume, Michael Witt explores Godard’s landmark work as both a specimen of an artist's vision and a philosophical statement on the history of film. Witt contextualizes Godard's theories and approaches to historiography and provides a guide to the wide-ranging cinematic, aesthetic, and cultural forces that shaped Godard's groundbreaking ideas on the history of cinema.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Title page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

...Lundell for commissioning this book, and Jane Behnken and Raina Polivka for seeing it through to completion with great care. I am also extremely grateful to Michael Temple and Nicole Brenez for their incisive feedback on the manuscript. In addition, I am indebted to the following for their generosity, help, and support of various kinds: Derek Allan, Timothy Barnard, Nil Baskar, Raymond Bellour, Janet..

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Introduction: Godard's Theorem

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pp. 1-9

...simultaneously a set of essays on the history of cinema and television; on Godard’s life, and his place within that history; on the history of cinema in the context of the other arts; on the history of film thinking; on the history of the twentieth century; on the interpenetration of cinema and that century; and on the impact of films on subjectivity. It is also a critique of the longstanding neglect by historians of the value of films as historical documents, and a reflection...

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1. Histoire(s) du cinéma: A History

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pp. 10-44

...Looking back on the early stages of his film history project from the perspective of 1979, Godard suggested that his desire to actively investigate cinema history had originated in a growing confusion he had experienced around 1967 or 1968 regarding how to proceed artistically. He realized that what he needed to sustain and renew his creative practice as a filmmaker was a deeper and more productive understanding of...

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2. The Prior and Parallel Work

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pp. 45-68

...to his late found-footage practice. The only really significant break, as we look back over his work as a whole, is the one resulting from the dislocation to his working practices provoked by his encounter with video. In this perspective, the oeuvre falls into two major movements: from the postwar discovery of cinema and the early New Wave, via the neo-Brechtian critique of the society of the spectacle, to the political dead end of the early 1970s; and from the beginning...

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3. Models and Guides

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pp. 69-111

...imaginative, sensuous, anecdotal, digressive, discontinuous, lacunary, rhythmic, repetitious, humorous, dramatic, and frequently contentious. Brimming with emotion, intuitions, insights, and provocations, they are made up in large part of resonant fables, tall tales, shaggy dog stories, quasi-mathematical riddles, and – above all – poetic images. Their dense texture and serpentine forms are closer to those one more readily associates...

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4. The Rise and Fall of the Cinematograph

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pp. 112-134

...But behind Godard’s apparently simple equation of cinema with montage, and his treatment of the latter as a singularly potent expressive device, there also lies a historical narrative: the best of silent cinema, drawing on and combining aspects of all the other arts, began to develop a unique, popular, powerful, revelatory new means of expression, whose maturation was all too quickly curtailed as a result of commercial...

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5. Cinema, Nationhood, and the New Wave

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pp. 135-168

...part be divided into four broad, partially overlapping categories: the silent cinema he discovered in the cine-clubs and at the Cinémathèque française in the 1940s and 1950s; the work of a handful of auteurs, such as Chaplin, Dreyer, Barnet, Bergman, Lang, Hitchcock, Renoir, Rossellini, and Welles (a list that has changed little since his early critical articles); postwar American, Italian, and French cinema...

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6. Making Images in the Age of Spectacle

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pp. 169-188

...It is important to recognize, however, that Godard’s actual relationship with television has been far more complex than this caricature might suggest. His work as a whole does not indicate a rejection of the medium per se, but rather a deep suspicion of the superficiality, uniformity, and deleterious effects arising from the manner in which it has habitually been organized and used. Indeed, he has often argued that television has enormous untapped potential and could be extraordinary...

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7. The Metamorphoses

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pp. 189-208

...before turning in greater detail to the books and CDs. The rationale behind the making of the abbreviated 35 mm version of the series appear to have been relatively straightforward: financial considerations; a homecoming, in the sense of a reentry into the space of projection, the cinema theater; and, as Nicole Brenez has suggested, the return of selected fragments of the series to 35 mm film following their passage through video...


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pp. 209-212

Works by Godard

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pp. 213-224


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pp. 225-238

Select Bibliography

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pp. 239-260


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pp. 261-276

E-ISBN-13: 9780253007308
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253007223

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 261 color illus.
Publication Year: 2013