It’s just me who said just cinema … “Just cinema.” … not like showing a photo of Marilyn Monroe when you’re talking about her, more like showing a photo of something else to introduce another idea … Not long after the Liberation there was a brief vogue for what were called “poetic films,” there would be poetry or text and then there was simply illustration. You take a poem or a text and you simply put photos or images on it, then you see either that what you’ve done is banal, that it’s worthless, or that the image you add enters into the text and eventually the text, when the time comes, springs from the images, so there’s no longer this simple relationship of illustration, and that makes it possible to exercise your capacity to think and reflect and imagine, to create. That simple form, whether with an interviewer or an illustrated poem, enables you to discover at a stroke things you’ve never thought of before.

–Jean-Luc Godard, “Constellation and Classification”


… there was already this way of working with a photo and a text that didn’t exist separately … Benjamin says that in the beginning is understanding, in other words hearing as much as seeing, and to say one understands is to say two things, yes I hear what you say and yes I apprehend what you say. In my opinion these are two different things that go together and are indissociable. So you can say crudely that there is image and text. In my view, they were on a socially equal footing from the start; one may come first at a given moment and the other second, one can be stronger than the other for a moment, but without any inequality at the start or finish … It was here, if you like, that the whole thing was badly misunderstood, and misunderstood by the distributor Gaumont, which brought Historie(s) out like this … I wanted to do it in the usual way: television showing, books after that, perhaps high-quality videocassettes later. They did the opposite: books first, then cassettes — of appalling quality — with television still to come who knows when. I anted to put on a small exhibition or something of that sort in a gallery, assemble something that would show the different modes of entering and leaving what one can call History. Because for me the book is what will remain afterwards, books survive longer. Apart from that it has a small audience, a small print run of a book isn’t felt to be shaming, but in cinema it is and actually it’s very rare. There are secondhand bookshops but there’s no secondhand cinema … in the book, you perceive much more clearly the equivalence or fraternity or equality between the photo and the text, which are on strictly equal footing, things that completely disorient historians but don’t disorient film people. But they don’t want that, people who talk about films; they want illustration and their separate text, in which they can exercise a certain learning and a certain power. They do texts, and that’s the snag. Rather than taking three images simply and arranging them differently, going too far and remaking cinema. They could be doing that, but they aren’t, they want to do text … The book has more of that than the film proper, the book shows this relation between image and text. They may say the book hasn’t got everything the film has, it hasn’t got all the sound, it hasn’t got all the tricks … no matter, more of it comes through, while with the film audience, except for sincere people, it gets lost.

–Jean-Luc Godard, “Historie(s) du cinéma: Films and Books”


There’s no such thing as reason. Thinking, creating, is an act of resistance; that’s what Deleuze was saying in his fashion. It was to get through on the level of understanding, to be understood in the raw sense and the intuitive one.

–Jean-Luc Godard, “Towards the Stars”


All excerpts taken from CINEMA by Jean-Luc Godard & Youssef Ishaghpour.


2 Responses to “Épisodes”

  1. Ana Says:
    August 27th, 2007 at 7:59 pm eI’ve JLG to thank for a poem — in ‘Notre musique’ (2004) he has the narrator read a poem by the Cuban poet José Lezama Lima — I misheard the quote and used it (with misread/new meaning) as the title and starting point of this poem:


    The (correct) original line is: light is the first visible animal of the invisible

    Godard really is a poet and wonderful to steal from.

  2. Sam Rasnake Says:
    August 27th, 2007 at 9:25 pm eThanks for the Godard, Amy. His work is so essential.

Film Poetry Pop Culture

AMY KING View All →

Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She co-edited with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edits the anthology series, Bettering American Poetry, and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.

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