Wednesday, April 04, 2007

a just image / just an image

"I beg your pardon for disturbing you during your class struggle. I know it is very important. But which way to the political film?"

- woman to Glauber Rocha in Vent d'est (Wind From the East, Godard, 1970)

"... a revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another..."

Mao Tse-Tung, as quoted in War in the Shadows: The Classic History of Guerrilla Warfare From Ancient Persia to the Present, Robert B. Asprey, p. 247

"In Vent d'Est (however, this) habitual passivity is challenged from the outset, as Godard gives us an opening shot that arouses our curiosity (a young man and woman are seen lying motionless on the ground, their arms bound together by a heavy chain) but systematically thwarts our expectations by simply holding the shot for nearly eight minutes without any action and without dialogue. In fact, when the voice-over 'commentary' finally breaks in (on the 'forest murmurs' we have been hearing), what we get is not dialogue but a critique of dialogue.

"Ostensibly talking about strike tactics in some labour dispute, the speaker states at one point that what is needed is dialogue, but that dialogue is usually handed over to a 'qualified representative' who translates the demands of the workers into the language of the bosses, and in doing so betrays the people he supposedly represents.... in a strange and insightful way, this discussion of the failure of dialogue in the hands of a 'qualified representative' also refers to the failure of dialogue within the 'bourgeois concept of representation' in the cinema."

- James Roy MacBean, Vent d’Est or Godard and Rocha at the Crossroads, 1971

"Godard, like Eisenstein before him, is more concerned with 'image-building' as a kind of pictography, in which images are liberated from their role as elements of representation and given a semantic function within a genuine iconic code, something like the baroque code of emblems. The sequences in which the image of Stalin is discussed are not simply - or even principally - about Stalin's politics, as much as they are about the problem of finding an image to siginify 'repression'. In fact, the whole project of writing in images must involve a high degree of foregrounding, because the construction of an adequate code can only take place if it is glossed and commented upon in the process of construction. Otherwise, it would remain a purely private language."

- Peter Wollen, Godard and Counter Cinema: Vent d'est, 1972

"Sound (she)/Image (he) or, more precisely: Voice (She)/Eye (He). By talking too much about "images and sounds" in the abstract, we failed to notice that there was always and above all a body invoked. The Godardian body is what receives, what lodges the eye; it is the image. The image is the domain of the man (even when - Numéro Deux - nothing remains of it but fetal blackness), it is what he is answerable for. He is answerable for it as a filmmaker (the overwhelming majority of filmmakers are men), therefore as a voyeur. Cinema, voyeurism matters of the scopic drive, the erectile eye, the business of men until now. But he only answers for it because someone talks to him about it. Someone: a voice, a voiceover, always the voice of a woman.

"The voice of the woman as oral penis. It articulates the law, but a law made to order; what subjects the images, these images, his images. In the second part of Wind From the East it is the voice of a woman which makes him draw the lesson: "What to do? You've made a film. You've criticized it. You've made mistakes. You know more now, perhaps, about the production of sounds and images, etc." The same apparatus in Ici et Ailleurs, where it is again the voice of a woman that translates, unfolds, restores these images, already seen, too quickly run ("run out the ass," as they say). Even the theater of Tout Va Bien is one where the same division of roles is at work. She (Jane Fonda) works for the radio (the voice: political commentary). He (Yves Montand) works in film (the image: commercials). And this voice speaks only about the meaning of events ('68), about History, about the meaning of History. And this image is one of prostituted bodies prancing for the greater glory of Dim stockings and the shameful pleasure of the man who films them. It's by the voice that History descends on these images as what guts them, marks them, subjects them to its law. By the voice of a woman."

- Serge Daney, The T(h)errorized (Godardian Pedagogy), 1976 (trans. Bill Krohn and Charles Cameron Ball).

I hope to return to some of these quotes in the future in some form.


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