Tuesday, July 14, 2009

'at the cinema, we do not think, we are thought'

'According to Godard, the cinema was, is, more than itself; it is both a supreme aspiration and an impossibility, a repository of history and intimate memory in the age of celebrity and forgetting, a lost golden age of self-transcendence, self-discovery, and a noble, doomed mission of folly for those who would attempt, as Godard himself continues to do, to recover and restore it.' (Everything is Cinema, p. 625)

Have just completed a slightly frenzied reading of Everything is Cinema, Richard Brody's book on the films of Jean-Luc Godard. Actually a biography of Godard refracted through his films (the two being inseparable). While there is a lot that is unsettling and, at best, distasteful, in Godard's developing philosophy through fifty years of work, he is a fascinating, even compelling figure. His early absorbtion in film and his development of narrative and thought that could only be expressed in cinematic terms are inspiring. One wonders what a theology developed, or at least expressed, only in film image and narrative would look like. (And perhaps someone else can think of someone who has done this over the course of a career - Wim Wenders is the only filmmaker who comes to mind immediately, though there was a long interesting period when Scorcese's theology was also to the fore - his more recent interests have been less compelling to me.) Definitely a huge amount of food for thought. It is an amazing book.

I love the high esteem that Brody holds film in. (And his monkish look in the author photo on the book jacket. He looks like he stepped out of a scene in Andrei Rublev.) In reference to the title of this post (a quote from Godard) Brody says, "This observation was less an avowal of passivity than of the will to self-transform through the movies."

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