Yet, in countless art films of recent years, we continue to note a dominant thematic preoccupation with recognition, anxiety and subjectivity, begging the question: If we have departed from the humanist regime of art and philosophy, why do its primary concerns continue to dominate? Critics have wanted his films to show that countering such a condition of isolation is important, whether politically or morally. Inevitably, however, the respective analyses on Godard's relationship with Hegel proffered by Morgan and Pavsek markedly diverged from each other, and both differ substantially from my own account - testimony, if any were needed, of the hermeneutic inexhaustibility of Godard's work. This is not a minor matter. But then we begin to hear the sound of the sea, and, after a moment, Godard cuts directly from the painting to a black-and-white film clip of a large wave rising up from the bottom of the frame and tossing a small ship at the top right. If the shortcomings of this chapter are so flagrant, then this is only because Morgan generally maintains a high degree of conceptual rigor, redolent of the analytic tradition of philosophy in which he is so evidently steeped, and which makes his work a distinct departure from the vast majority of academic discourse on Godard's films.
It becomes a tool for thinking about other concerns, ranging from the analysis of history to the status of the medium. Defying criticism of Godard's alleged retreat from politics, this book provides compelling, detailed, and erudite analyses of his later films and illuminates the auteur's political and aesthetic response to the so-called 'death of cinema. As for myself, I owe my political formation to the cinema, and I think this is comparatively rare at present. Throughout the video series, Godard explicitly positions himself as both author of the inquiry and part of its subject. Frequently, as in his depiction of himself as a decrepit filmmaker in Prénom Carmen First Name: Carmen, 1983 , these appearances have to do with considerations of authorial presence however compromised. These sequences from Allemagne 90 neuf zéro and Histoire s du cinéma give an indication of how Godard thinks about and through the cinema. Elsewhere, images of nature mark the contrast between cinema and television for example: A projection is like looking at the sky, but watching television is not.
In using the tradition of aesthetics to illuminate Godard's late films and videos, Morgan shows that these works transform the basic terms and categories of aesthetics in and for the cinema. This is not simply a gesture of self-aggrandizement. Among several techniques he uses to show this is the staging of famous radio addresses from postwar German political life against scenes of private activity, usually eating, thereby correlating personal lives with public events. His collaborations with Miéville during the 1970s, for example, frequently turn toward the question of the home. Posing clear yet insistent questions, he burrows to the center of both parts of this bookand 8217;s formidable title, finding in late Godard an aesthetic fusion that generates the light and heat of a trenchant and powerful political critique. One is from Allemagne 90 neuf zéro, the other from Histoire s du cinéma. In chapter 1, I discuss in greater detail the equation of an interest in aesthetics with a politically conservative position, an influential line of thought within film studies.
The three films with which I am mostly concerned are not exceptions. And with it is a worry over the very possibility of political engagement. Over the course of this book, I will argue that these five features, and others as well, are best understood under the broader heading of aesthetics. Miriam Bratu Hansen brings to life an impressive archive of known and, in the case of Kracauer, less known materials and reveals surprising perspectives on canonic texts, including Benjamin's artwork essay. But what's needed is more than a revisiting of Godard's late work. The point for both Bálazs and Arnheim wasn't simply that film ought to be accorded the same respect as theater or painting in order to enable the appropriate appreciation; rather, the fact that a film could be treated in terms of aesthetics meant that it was on equal footing with the other arts.
Or is the film the source of that memory? Godard does not simply insert clips but manipulates their playback: they are stopped, slowed down, sped up saccadé. For me, the most striking of these parallels was their common discussion of Godard's citation of Hegel in Allemagne 90. Through detailed analyses of extended sequences, technical innovations, and formal experiments, Morgan provides an original interpretation of a series of several internally related films— Soigne ta droite Keep Your Right Up, 1987 , Nouvelle vague New Wave, 1990 , and Allemagne 90 neuf zéro Germany 90 Nine Zero, 1991 —and the monumental late video work, Histoire s du cinéma 1988-1998. Over and over, in films and videos made during these years, he turns to questions of what cinema is, both in itself and in relation to other media. An obvious instance of this is in the image-sound relations that structure his films and videos. .
More generally, Caution appears to be pointing to a familiar distinction between two models of society, one based on the organization of individuals and one based on the idea of a self-sustaining state. What that is, it will turn out, involves a specific kind of experience made possible by the conditions of theatrical projection. Reconciling the filmmaker's peculiarly Romantic sense of aesthetics --to which the book pays scrupulous, material attention--with the thorny political histories that Godard's cinema has always probed, Morgan gives us new, compelling, synthetic tools with which to understand an artist who is at once the most cryptic and the most sensuous of all living filmmakers. Posing clear yet insistent questions, he burrows to the center of both parts of this book's formidable title, finding in late Godard an aesthetic fusion that generates the light and heat of a trenchant and powerful political critique. When Godard begins to alternate the end of Les quatre cents coups with other clips, he chooses films that were touchstones for the critical enterprise of the movement. Instead, I want to draw attention to the appearance of painting, photography, and cinema in such close proximity to one another, a connection that suggests an interest in the relation among these arts. Taking up a range of topics, including the role of nature and natural beauty, the relation between history and cinema, and the interactions between film and video, the book provides a distinctive account of the cinematic and intellectual ambitions of Godardand 8217;s late work.
Comparing cinema to painting and photography is a well-worn critical gesture, the most familiar version of which is articulated by André Bazin in a remark that Godard cites several times during this period: Perspective was the original sin of Western painting. When placed in this context, Godard's interest in the form of twoness reads more as a calculated strategy in response to confusion and anxiety about the public world than it does as a reflexive withdrawal from that world. However, I'll also argue that aesthetics enters the picture in no small way because of Godard's sense that other methods of inquiry and analysis have reached a dead end or come up against their own limitations. Soigne ta droite gives this desire an increasingly broad motivation, culminating in Godard's extraordinary updating of the train scene from La chinoise. Godard's use of Valtin's text gives a particular slant to the film's depiction of the desire for solitude.
With the ravages of political activism, we have the fantasy of bourgeois privacy; with the impositions of the public world, we have social isolation; with the demands of finance, we have the solace of love. His films, that is, explicitly draw on and endorse a tradition of high art and culture painting in Passion, music in Prénom Carmen, theology in Je vous salue, Marie, literature in King Lear in a way that directly goes against the grain of the films from the previous decade. By explicitly positioning his films in relation to political events, Godard makes them available to be read as responses to those situations. There are serious questions about how the larger problems Godard is interested in fit with and emerge out of the complexity of the individual films and videos. The diagnostic model can be seen in the way many of his films use political events as their narrative frame: Chernobyl for King Lear, the fall of the Berlin Wall for Allemagne 90 neuf zéro, the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the subsequent wars for Hélas pour moi 1993 , Je vous salue, Sarajevo 1993 , For Ever Mozart, and Notre musique. Taking up a range of topics, including the role of nature and natural beauty, the relation between history and cinema, and the interactions between film and video, the book provides a distinctive account of the cinematic and intellectual ambitions of Godard's late work.