Wednesday, May 12, 2010

FILM SOCIALISME Press-Book: Interview with JLG by Renaud Deflins

An English-language version of the Film Socialisme press-book has been posted at the Festival de Cannes website as a PDF. You can download it here. The French-language version PDF can be downloaded here.

I reproduce below (with minor textual-tweaks) the English-language translation of the interview with Godard conducted by "Renaud Deflins" for "SUD Rail Magazine", April 15th 2010, contained within the press-book. —pour N.B.—*

Side-note: Godard's signature has been placed at the top of a petition in support of Polanski, organized by Bernard-Henri Lévy and posted at Lévy's site La Règle du Jeu. Others who have signed, up to the present evening: Mathieu Amalric; Xavier Beauvois; Agnès Varda; Bertrand Tavernier; Olivier Assayas; Jean-Stéphane Bron; Patricio Guzmán; Jean-Paul Civeyrac; Katell Quillévéré; Cristi Puiu; Louis Garrel. Petition in French and English can be found here.

Another piece (this only in French) extremely worth reading, and which I hope to get a chance to translate here soon, is BHL's April 6th editorial about Godard, and the remarks about his own remarks quoted in two recent biographies. It can be accessed here. The closing statements, worth reproducing for the immediate instant (and without yet translating the details on Terre promise), are as follows:

"Que le rapport de Godard au fait juif soit complexe, contradictoire, ambigu, que son soutien du début des années 70, dans « Ici et ailleurs » par exemple, aux points de vue palestiniens les plus extrémistes fasse problème, qu’il y ait dans les « Morceaux de conversations » d’Alain Fleischer (2009) des séquences que je ne connaissais par définition pas lorsque furent lancés chacun de ces projets et qui, aujourd’hui, m’ébranlent, cela est incontestable. Mais déduire de tout cela un péremptoire « Godard antisémite ! » et s’appuyer sur cet antisémitisme supposé pour, en une démarche de plus en plus courante en cette basse époque de police de l’art et de la pensée, tenter de disqualifier l’œuvre entière, c’est faire injure à un artiste considérable en même temps que jouer avec un mot – l’antisémitisme – à manier, je le répète, avec la plus extrême prudence.

"J’ai hésité avant d’écrire ces lignes. J’ai lu et relu, pour cela, le paquet de notes et de documents que j’ai conservés au fil de ces années. Mais c’était affaire de clarté et, je crois, de probité."

And now on to the Film Socialisme press-book interview.

* UPDATE: (Nicole Brenez clarifies things further in an email she sent me this morning: " 'Renaud Deflins' is a reference to the Usine Renault de Flins, a hotspot in '68's political fights. SUD [Solidaires Unitaires Démocratiques] is the farthest-left union of workers, and SUD Rail the branch that distinguished itself for being the most radical for the defense of the French public service (opposite to all the liberal and capitalist system, frontline to our governmental politics). It was co-founded by one of my cousins, who just died last week. So I'm extremely touched and happy for him and his comrades. This new junction between Jean-Luc Godard and the fighting workers is great news.")


DEFLINS: Production, distribution, exploitation?

GODARD: Since the end of the big studios, after the Second World War, the order was inverted, with the aristocracy henceforth coming first, and the "third estate" last.

DEFLINS: Cinema and films — the difference?

GODARD: The same, cinema is not necessarily to be found in films.


GODARD: Very quickly: the dimension of time has disappeared and space has been flattened, Cinemascope, 16:9.

DEFLINS: And what, what about geometry?

GODARD: Euclid understood the language of the Pyramids, not Aristotle.

DEFLINS: And the word "why"?

GODARD: Freud didn't study the birth of the word after birth, when the infant still speaks without words. Animals alone will be its custodian.

DEFLINS: Peace in the Middle East — when?

GODARD: As soon as Israel and Palestine introduce six million dogs, and stroll around with them in the vicinity of one another without saying a word, without saying a single word about anything.

DEFLINS: Tragedy and democracy?

GODARD: Without Sophocles, no Pericles.

DEFLINS: And copyright?

GODARD: We forget that Beaumarchais' real problem wasn't retaining ownership of Le Mariage de Figaro, but simply getting his share of the receipts.

DEFLINS: What are our humanities?

GODARD: In the past, in French high schools, Greek and Latin were identified as such. We can define humanity as an infinite curve in all its points save one where it is null. (cf. L. Schwarz)

DEFLINS: A happy Europe?

GODARD: Rather than receive historical wisdoms, we'd do better to understand that our Europe was created by the German princes in the process of their unification. And therefore that in the present day, France, Poland, Hungary are nothing more than "Länder". And, in its desire to "fara da se", Italy already presupposes future Axis forces.

DEFLINS: In rhyming "equality" with "shit"?

GODARD: Our "?" is the sign of it. The only behavior in which animals and humans inhabit an equality — chamberpot, seat, chairs, etc.

DEFLINS: Fixed shots only?

GODARD: The chemist doesn't do tracking shots in front of his microscope nor oil companies when drilling into the sea-bed.

DEFLINS: And the face of the Other?

GODARD: Unfortunately for him, the philosopher Levinas didn't walk out onto the battlefield with a camcorder and his reversible mirror.

DEFLINS: Blogs and text-messaging?

GODARD: In a way, behind this young thinking similar to that of an earthworm, one thing matters to all these passionate Phoenixes: to survive and find in the depths of chaos a chance to resurrect. (cf. Prigogine)

DEFLINS: Politics again?

GODARD: Yes, as modern democracies, by rendering politics a domain of separate thought, are predisposed to totalitarianism.

DEFLINS: IXE [Information Exchange for Economics] plus three equals one?

GODARD: Not an Einstein-style formula — a metaphor at the apex and the roots of all montage. If financial, for example, it allows the current debt of Greece to be brought near the hordes of German tourists. In Montesquieu's phrase: when finance is privileged, the State is lost.

DEFLINS: And images?

GODARD: The old magus Bachelard spoke about implicit and explicit images. We might cite Jules Renard with his image of silence: snow falling on water.

DEFLINS: A vision of the future?

GODARD: Even with Final Cut, the most humble or most arrogant of editors is in prison, bound to the past as to the future and must deal with it for the present. Only cinema reproduces this human work.

DEFLINS: One final film?

GODARD: Nothing more than a title: Farewell to Language.



  1. in what way can that ficticious dialog be called an interview? looks completely made up :) i mean, it's just a vehicle for godard's aphorisms/boutades...

  2. That's right, André.

    "Deflins" is the Platonic ideal interviewer — the shadow on the wall.

    And as for "SUD Rail Magazine" — well, make of that what one will.

  3. Thanks for posting this Craig. I look forward to checking out the press book, fictitious interviews and all.

    All this buildup has got me even more excited than ever for Socialisme. It's like the film geek's version of the summer blockbuster.

  4. See the just-added update footnote in the post above.

    Cohn-Bendit / Godard conversation coming soon.

  5. You're doing great work, Mr Keller. Google translation of the Cohn-Bendit interview with Godard just doesn't do it justice.

  6. Craig,
    merci beaucoup pour le lien au site de Lévy. Je commence la nouvelle biographe demain, en fait, pendant mon vol aux USA.

    La conversation entre Godard et Cohn-Bendit est intéressante, mais j'étais vraiment étonné d'apprendre qu'il a vendu tout ce qu'il utilise pour faire les films. J'espère que Film Socialisme n'est pas son dernier film !

  7. porfect.. film izle Thanks for posting this Craig. I look forward to checking out the press book, fictitious interviews and all.


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