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Sound and Vision: The Cinema of Jean-Luc Godard

Lecturer: Lauren Bliss

Originally Taught: Winter School 2015

This course will explore the theoretical and epistemological foundations of the work of filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard. It will focus on five key Godardian concepts and techniques to highlight his oeuvre and to ask how his films are agents of, what Gilles Deleuze first called, 'cinematic thinking'. Surveying Godard's work, from its beginnings in the French Nouvelle Vague, through to the collaborations with Jean-Pierre Gorin in the Dziga Vertov Group, and to the later works with his partner Anne-Marie Miéville, this course will focus on: the concept of the image and its reproduction; the theory of cinema as an agent of political emancipation; the position and representation of femininity; the relation of sound to the image; and the black screen. These five concepts and techniques, as they are inherently referential, will be related through close analysis of Godard's own films and writings and through studying a number of key film theorists (in particular the early-film theorist Jean Epstein), influential filmmakers, and typologies.

Course Schedule

Week One: Image

  • The Concept and Technique of the Cinematic Original
  • Screening: Masculine Feminine (Jean-Luc Godard, 1966)

Week Two: Politics

  • The Cause for Cinema (On Jane Fonda)
  • Screening: Week-end (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967) (with excerpts from Tout va bien, 1972, and Letter to Jane: An investigation about a still, 1972).

Week Three: Gender

  • Godardian Typology (on the Virgin Mary)
  • Screening: The Book of Mary (Anne-Marie Miéville, 1985) and Hail Mary (1985)

Week Four: Sound

  • Seeing sound (and hearing images)
  • Screening: The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928)

Week Five: The Black Screen

  • On Love and Nothing
  • Screening: Éloge de l'amour (2001)

Reading

  • Jean-Luc Godard, Introduction to a True History of Cinema and Television, translated by Timothy Barnard (Montreal: Caboose, 2014).
  • Nicole Brenez, "The Forms of the Question." In For Ever Godard, edited byMichael Temple, James S. Williams, and Michael Witt (London: Black Dog Publishing, 2007).
  • Jean Epstein, "The Senses 1b," translated by Tom Milne in French Film Theory and Criticism Vol 1, edited by Richard Abel (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988):
  • Jean Epstein, “Indictment,” trans. Franck le Gac in Jean Epstein: Critical Essays and New Translations, eds. Sarah Keller and Jason S. Paul (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2012).
  • "Godard Makes Hi(stories) interview with Serge Daney" in Jean-Luc Godard son+image 1974-1991, edited by Raymond Bellour and Mary Lea Bandy (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1992), available online: http://www.diagonalthoughts.com/?p=1978