Histoire(s) du Cinema DVD
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Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
Produced in 1998
Main Language - French with English subtitles
For mass audiences, Jean-Luc Godard may have a bigger reputation than a following, but that’s partly due to the unavailability of so much of the work he created long after he helped establish modern cinema and the French New Wave. Like other members of that loose constituency, Godard’s love of movies was birthed in the marathon screenings of Henri Langlois’ Cinémathèque Française, where multiple films a day flooded his eyes and ears. Godard the critic was born, and shortly thereafter, Godard the encyclopaedic, intertextual, essayistic filmmaker. Of the many declarations about life and cinema that he has made, his claim that the best way to critique a film is to make another film has emerged as his raison d’être.
It’s definitely the navigating principle of Godard’s ten years-in-the-making Histoire(s) du Cinéma, an eight-part video essay film that charts the interactions of cinema and the 20th century like a Cinémathèque on film: movie clips, newsreels, pornography, stills, overlapping dialogue, intertitles, quotes, pop music, classical music, and Godard’s brooding narration cascade over the viewer in an ever shifting phantasmagoria of references and cross-references. The film’s soundtrack alone justifies an independent CD release with copious liner notes, but Histoire(s)’ complete presentation has thus far eluded the mainstream. Widely considered the filmmaker’s magnum opus, it’s a major work of and about the cinema that’s been compared in style and scope to Finnegan’s Wake and the works of Marcel Proust; it’s a film that transmits associational and highly provocative thoughts on the art form by one of its greatest practitioners.
Godard eulogizes the cinema even as he condemns it for failing to prevent two world wars and multiple genocides; he criticizes its silence toward atrocities (studiously ignored until their epochs have passed), and in similar fashion champions the bravery and beauty of Italian neorealism emerging from the rubble of World War II. Bridging semiotics, representation, classical painting, politics, literature, and a diverse array of motion pictures (which are nothing more than light, he mischievously notes), Godard’s mammoth meditation is rich, essential viewing.
Godard's epochal study of 20th century cinema is unlike any other. A collage of clips, stills and images of great paintings accompanied by passages of music and dialogue, this contemplation on the great 20th century art form becomes, in Godard's hands, a commentary on the century's catastrophes and follies.
Publisher: Artificial Eye
Length: 265 mins
Aspect ratio: 1:1.33 (4:3) Standard
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 22nd September 2008
Cat No: ART382DVD
- 3 discs.