Saturday, August 19, 2023

The Image Notebook: Preview of FILM ANNONCE DU FILM QUI N'EXISTERA PAS "DRÔLES DE GUERRES" by Jean-Luc Godard

Emotion / Passion

The following appeared in the Cahiers du Cinéma no. 798, May 2023; cover story: "Cannes: Alternating Currents" — the Aragno text was conducted by Marcos Uzal via telephone on April 26th, 2023. Translations by Craig Keller.


Undoubtedly, one of the events of the year will be the discovery of the final film that Jean-Luc Godard finished completely and approved of just before his death. A text by Nicole Brenez and remarks by Fabrice Aragno, two of his faithful collaborators (with Jean-Paul Battaggia) return to the genesis and conception of this hand-made film.


"We had to stop, notably because of the pandemic confinement, and postpone the shooting of the film known as Drôles de guerres [Phony Wars], which we didn't end up making. As usual, Jean-Luc made a paper pamphlet for this film, with collages, photos, hand-written texts, in a very artisanal manner. In the same manner, he also made a pamphlet of the "trailer" that explicates Drôles de guerres — some forty-odd pages in A5 format on card stock. At the beginning of last year, he had the idea of filming all the pages, attaching Post-It notes to indicate the number of seconds each shot should last. I put it all in a timeline and it made up a film, each shot of which was one page. Then he made a document with colored markers, indicating the placements of the sound to the nearest second. "From such-and-such minute to such-and-such second, place such-and-such excerpt from Notre musique, or such-and-such piece of music, or such-and-such end of an interview that we did together to talk about the film to be made," etc. The indications were all provided graphically, and I manually put together the film at my home, but Jean-Luc was so precise that the result corresponded exactly to what he had been thinking, without his needing to place his hand on the cutting. It was completely finished and approved by him."


The first of March 2022, in a weary but firm voice full of joy, Jean-Luc Godard declares to Fabrice Aragno and Jean-Paul Battaggia, who record him on the subject of Film annonce du film "Drôles de guerres": "I don't know what you thought of it when I told you it was one of my best films; what I like is that it's very slow, very silent at times, and then there's something else — so it's perfection." For those who have become accustomed to the permanent self-criticism thanks to which Godard's work evolves, the surprise is considerable. After Sisyphus, imagine Godard happy? Jean-Luc thought about the duration of each shot on the physical model of the few seconds dedicated by visitors to an art museum to the perception of each painting, with, on the horizon, the extreme figure of Reger, this character of Thomas Bernhard who, for thirty years, just sat every two days before Man with a White Beard (according to 1985's Old Masters). Thus the slowness, the kinetic version of a contemporary residue of contemplative experience, yes; the silence, the blank page, yes. But then, what would this “something else” consist of that allows access to an even ironic perfection? Initial hypotheses: beings engaged in their cause until death; the irruption of a moving shot in the age-old history of immobile images, of which sometimes a film revives the miraculous character; a dense web of open or broken relationships between words, images, and sounds; the last bursts of a devouring research on the negative; much suffering, torture, lost battles, flouted ideals, on a piece of paper that bears the name of a weapon ("Canon"); various phases of the work, sometimes very old, laid bare and joined; shadow mouths, falls, dizziness; the pathway to a text where one can read: "If she is dead, don't forget. If she is dead, a simple announcement. A simple announcement." (Charles Plisnier, Faux passeports, 1937).


These photos taken in January 2022 go back from the time of the realization of this film. They're sketches done with black-and-white cinema 35mm, with scraps of reels mounted on spools in order to stick them into a film camera [cf. À bout de souffle from 1960. —CK], which was cheaper than unwinding 120 meters inside of a camera. It was just to see the quality, the grain, the contrasts of this film-stock. As I didn't know what to take pictures of, one I took my device along when I went to see Jean-Luc. These sketches were for Drôles de guerres, for which we were equipped with 35mm, 16mm, and Super 8 cameras. I continued on with the sketches for Drôles de guerres, but Jean-Luc was already started on the film trailer.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.