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Godard: A Portrait of the Artist at Seventy
Jean-Luc Godard's early films revolutionized the language of cinema. Hugely prolific in his first decade--Breathless, Contempt, Pierrot le Fou, Alphaville, and Made in USA are just a handful of the seminal works he directed--Godard introduced filmgoers to the generation of stars associated with the trumpeted sexuality of postwar movies and culture: Brigitte Bardot, Jean Seberg, Jean-Paul Belmondo, and Anna Karina.
As the sixties wore on, however, Godard's life was transformed. The Hollywood he had idolized began to disgust him, and in the midst of the socialist ferment in France his second wife introduced him to the activist student left. From 1968 to 1972, Europe's greatest director worked in the service of Maoist politics, and continued thereafter to experiment on the far peripheries of the medium he had transformed. His extraordinary later works are little seen or appreciated, yet he remains one of Europe's most influential artists.
Drawing on his own working experience with Godard and his coterie, Colin MacCabe, in this first biography of the director, has written a thrilling account of the French cinema's transformation in the hands of Truffaut, Rohmer, Rivette, and Chabrol--critics who toppled the old aesthetics by becoming, legendarily, directors themselves--and Godard's determination to make cinema the greatest of the arts.
- September 26, 2005
I'm a fan of Godard's work and really enjoyed this book. It is part biography and part history and tends to go off on tangents which make the book all the more strange and interesting. Towards the end it becomes more personal because of the experiences MacCabe had with Godard later on in his life. Although the form and construction of the book are not very tight, it does a nice job of weaving through the complex mosaic that is Godard's life. It has some really cool pictures too.
A blow-by-blow account of 70 long years
By Kevin Killian
- August 29, 2004
Once upon a time, Godard was the leading filmmaker in the world, and if he lost some of his stature after a run of didactic, neo-Rossellini and Maoist tracts in the 1970s, he never really wanted to be famous, just influential. MacCabe, who has written interesting books on Warhol and Nicolas Roeg, explicates the progression of a great artist from enfant terrible to a man most think has died. The chapter about Anna Karina is wonderful, and we get the impression that Karina remains for MacCabe one of the icons of femininity, whereas he is cool and respectful towards Anne-Marie (Godard's frequent collaborator) you get the feeling he's not turned on by her the way he is by Karina. Also, we see him being tremendously gallant I think, towards Jane Fonda, with whom Godard made a film TOUT VA BIEN and then after it failed, he turned on her with the vicious "cinema portrait" LETTER TO JANE, castigatig her for her vanity and her foolish liberalism. MacCabe delivers a reproof to Godard and... read more
Required text for class
By Chistina Richards
- March 26, 2013
I'm taking a class on Godard. This is the required reading. (We have weekly articles but this book supplements those readings.) It's a very nice read. MacCabe kind of goes on tangents that don't relate to Godard sometimes, but overall it's a good book. (Still currently reading it.)
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