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  • The Legacies of Jean-Luc Godard ed. by Douglas Morrey, Christina Stojanova, and Nicole Côté
  • Albertine Fox
Douglas Morrey, Christina Stojanova, and Nicole Côté, eds. The Legacies of Jean-Luc Godard. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. xxvi, 244. $48.99

Each of the fourteen essays in this collection offers a fresh and unique engagement with the work of the filmmaker and video maker Jean-Luc Godard. Succinct close analyses are interwoven with original theoretical [End Page 494] approaches that draw attention to the complex interactions between Godard’s cinema and other artistic and creative disciplines, including music, dance, painting, philosophy, and installation art. As Douglas Morrey and Nicole Côté make clear in their respective foreword and introduction, this volume resulted from the international conference “Sonimage: The Legacies of Jean-Luc Godard,” held in Canada in 2010 in honour of Godard’s eightieth birthday and coinciding with the release of his then latest feature, Film socialisme (2010). The book is carefully arranged into four main parts: “Godardian Legacy in Film, Music, and Dance,” “Godardian Politics of Representation: Memory/History,” “Godardian Legacy in Philosophy,” and “Formalist Legacies: Narratives and Exhibitions.” Each part illuminates a select range of issues through a series of striking examples, while inviting readers to draw comparisons, in true Godardian fashion, across and between the different chapters. For example, in Part One Jürg Stenzl examines the structural affinities between the short film Dans le noir du temps (2002) and Arvo Part’s Spiegel im Spiegel, locating the film’s “true invention” in the creation of a radical counterpoint between the music and the images. Stenzl’s “score” of the film, displayed in the appendix, comprising textual quotations, diegetic and voice-over texts, and timings marking the entrance and exit of the music, is modelled on Céline Scemama’s “score” of Histoire(s) du cinéma (displayed in excerpted form in Part Two). In this way, one chapter, and indeed one film, immediately suggests a new reading of another: readers are encouraged to listen hard as they “delve into the darkness,” as Scemama suggests, of history, of Godard’s vision or composition of history, through to the “Final Vision,” a sonorous vision, of a new order. In Part Three, Christina Stojanova concentrates on a different facet of Histoire(s) du cinéma, shining the spotlight on the untapped parallels between late Wittgenstein’s concept of “language games” and Godard’s prolific use of associative montage techniques. For his part, Glen Norton unpicks Stanley Cavell’s disparaging view of Godard’s “depersonalization” of his characters, rightly foregrounding instead Godard’s self-questioning attitude toward the depiction of inwardness and its cinematic possibility in Vivre sa vie (1962). Norton’s study of the exchange between Nana and Brice Parain dovetails intriguingly with Tyson Stewart’s interpretation of Parain’s cameo role during the same scene in his chapter on Godard’s experimentation with the performance of the intellectual. Other interesting chapter pairings include Russell J.A. Kilbourn’s take on Godard’s allusions to Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List in Éloge de l’amour (2001), and Junji Hori’s teasingly contentious claim that, for Godard, “the most haunting object of desire is almost certainly Schindler’s List.” Of great value too is Timothy Long’s piece in Part Four on the compelling parametric strategies deployed in Ian Wallace’s contemporary photo-collage paintings. Inspired [End Page 495] by Godard’s new wave cinema, Wallace’s paintings perform a distinctive visual commentary on Le Mépris (1963) and Masculin féminin (1966) through a corresponding organization of space and time. In the final chapter, the reader is confronted with the impossible encounter between the art institution and the filmmaker himself. André Habib explores how Godard’s Pompidou exhibition constitutes a masterful and utopic “performance of failure”—failure operating as the crucial condition that determines the work’s existence. It is important to stress that Godard remains to this day an active filmmaker of enduring influence, having ventured most recently, since this book’s publication, into the world of 3-D film (Les trois désastres, 2013; and Adieu au langage, 2014). At times I felt that...


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