Watch: A Jean-Luc Godard Homage in Blue, White and Red (NSFW, a little)

Watch: A Jean-Luc Godard Homage in Blue, White and Red (NSFW, a little)

This homage to Jean-Luc Godard by Cinema Sem Lei focuses on his enduring use of blue, whites, and reds in the films ‘Contempt,’ ‘A Woman Is a Woman,’ ‘Pierrot le Fou,’ and ‘Made in U.S.A.’ Watching it, you might be tempted to say,Is that all there is to it? Just a collection of red, white and blue scenes? What’s the point? I could do that. Etcetera. In so doing, you might miss the point you’re looking for. Watching this little collection, one is reminded of a crucial element of Godard’s early (and to a certain extent later) style: that point where what we might consider a narrative element (the way a person dresses, for instance, as an indication of character–or a part of a setting) turns into something else entirely: a cog inside a large symbolic machine, not a shirt, not a neon letter, not a doorway, not a floodlight, but something else. You can use the word "sign," if you wish, or the term "visual vocabulary," or "visual language," but the three-way-rally exchange is the same: from the screen to the eye to the mind, lingering a little in each.

Watch: Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina: A Marriage on Film

Watch: Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina: A Marriage on Film

[Extended transcript follows.]

[Jean-Luc] Godard contacted [Anna] Karina after seeing her in a Palmolive
commercial. He asked her to play a small role in ‘Breathless.’ She refused when
she found out the part required nudity. Godard cast her in the lead role of his
next film, ‘Le Petit Soldat.’ Halfway through production, the cast and crew
went out to dinner—including Karina and her boyfriend. Godard wrote her a note
and put it in her hand under the table. It said, “I Love you. Rendezvous at the
Café de la Paix at midnight.” Karina left her boyfriend and began a
relationship with Godard. They were happy. The production of Godard’s next
film, ‘A Woman is a Woman’, found the couple often arguing. Godard adjusted the
story to reflect the difficulties of their relationship in a humorous way.
Karina became pregnant over the course of filming. Godard proposed and they
were soon married. A friend and fellow filmmaker, Agnes Varda, cast the couple
in a small part of her film ‘Cleo From 5 to 7.’ Godard was usually preoccupied
with his work and would often leave Karina home alone. In the spring, she had a
miscarriage and fell ill. When her health returned, she acted in another film
while Godard attempted to set up a new project. Karina began an affair with her
co-star. In 1961, Karina decided to divorce Godard, but they made up and
started work on ‘Vivre sa vie.’ In 1963, Godard wrote and directed a film about
the end of a marriage titled ‘Contempt.’ It drew largely on his relationship
with Karina with many lines being things Karina actually said. Their divorce
was finalized at the end of 1964. Many of Godard’s subsequent films starring
Karina dealt with their relationship. In ‘Alphaville,’ Karina’s character does
not know the meaning of the word “love.” In ‘Pierrot le fou,’ Karina’s
character betrays the male lead. Their last film together, ‘Made in U.S.A.,’
has Karina shoot and kill a man meant to represent Godard himself. Despite the
bitterness on set, these films feature many close-ups of Karina, which seems to
suggest a longing. The last film in Godard’s cinematic period, titled
‘Weekend,’ depicts a harsh world littered with fiery car wrecks and rife with
anger and even cannibalism. The film ends with the words, “end of cinema.”

Tyler Knudsen, a San
Francisco Bay Area native, has been a student of film for most of his life.
Appearing several television commercials as a child, Tyler was inspired to
shift his focus from acting to directing after performing as a featured extra
in Vincent Ward’s
What Dreams May Come. He studied Film & Digital
Media with an emphasis on production at the University of California, Santa
Cruz and recently moved to New York City where he currently resides with his girlfriend.

WATCH: What One Critic Learned from Watching Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Breathless’: An Interactive Video Essay

WATCH: What One Critic Learned from Watching Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Breathless’

Tyler Knudsen, who goes by "CinemaTyler" on YouTube, has posted a remarkable video essay about what he learned, or rather what a viewer could learn, by watching Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless. This comprehensive piece takes us through the movie, its history, and the labors required to get it made with great deftness–and to top it off, it’s interactive! What this means is that, at regular points during the video, you (if you’re watching on a desktop) can click on buttons which will lead you to supplemental videos which discuss key terms or films, such as "Hollywood renaissance," or "The 400 Blows." The breadth of Knudsen’s scholarship is impressive, and the things Knudsen says he has learned from the film are impressive as well. The first of these? "There are no rules in art."

This video is part of a fantastic series–you can take a look at Knudsen’s other subjects here.

VIDEO – Motion Studies #4: Godardloop

VIDEO – Motion Studies #4: Godardloop

For the next seven weeks, the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival will present "Film Studies in Motion", a Web Series curated by Volker Pantenburg and Kevin B. Lee. This series, available on the festival's website and Facebook page, presents weekly selections of analytical video essays on the web, in preparation for Pantenberg and Lee's presentation  "Whatever happened to Bildungsauftrag? – Teaching cinema on TV and the Web", scheduled for April 28 at the festival.

Press Play will track the series, posting four or five of the selected videos each week as they also become available on the Oberhausen Film Festival website.

This week is an initial sampling of exemplary works from the emerging genre of online video essays on cinema. Combined they cover a wide range of subject matter (a genre, a sequence in a film, a cinematic motif, a director’s body of work). They demonstrate a variety of stylistic approaches to the video essay form, using an array of techniques: montage and rhythm, split screens, narration, creative use of on-screen text, etc. These works, some of them conceived as multi-part series, are made typically on computers with consumer-grade editing software, but they display an ingenuity that is comparable to that of the films they explore.

Today's selection:


Michael Baute (2010)

47 films spanning 50 years of filmmaking are channeled into a stream of images that attest to an inimitable talent: an artist who transforms the world simply by how he looks at it through a camera.

Volker Pantenburg is assistant professor for moving images at the media faculty of the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. 

Kevin B. Lee is Editor in Chief of IndieWire’s PressPlay Video Blog and contributor to Roger Follow him on Twitter.