Godard taught me how to watch cinema, even when he was reinventing it

I wasn’t ready for that Jean-Luc Godard; I doubt that anyone was. Now that he is gone, it seems impossible to express the enormity of his influence on cinema, an art that has changed him the most. His influence was so profound that even after his work became unpopular and reflexively rejected by the lazy, and even as he himself faded (he died Tuesday of assisted suicide at the age of 91), the remnants of this pesky giant, the gentleman in dark sunglasses and cigars remained. He was the ghost of cinema long before his death, and he will haunt us.

When we talk about beloved artists, we often blink the first time we encounter their work, a trend that evokes first love. I was in college when I saw my first Godard movie,”Every man for himself(1980), is widely considered a return to form. I can’t remember now what I thought at the time. I only remember the sensations I had when I bounced off the Bleecker Street cinema and came home in the fog, dazed. I thought I understood. Movies, but I didn’t get this. What I also didn’t understand was that I just watched another way to make – and watch – a movie.

Early on, Hollywood made movies easy for us. She taught us how to understand her sense of time and place, and she transformed sights and sounds into stories. He called us in with a smile and asked us to enjoy the show, then come back for more next week. Godard didn’t make it easy, or not always. He insisted that we come to him, navigate his intensities of thought, decipher his short sayings and learn a new language: his. If we can’t or won’t respond, that’s too bad – for us. We were poor because we don’t Vision That cinema can be more than laughter, tears, dollars and prizes.

These movies can also be more than money-making machines, anything other than corporate branding, looking weird in the Marvel era – horrible and naive old fashioned. It’s amazing and useful that now when a new movie arrives that really interests people, there may be some chatter about its representations and whether it aligns with established ideas about proper politics and entertainment. The biggest focus, though, will always be on box office potential and the attendant Oscar opportunities. Commodity of movies is the other way Hollywood has made it easier for us.

It could be so much more, as Godard has shown decade after decade. Cinema is art – or it can be – and it is political, he insisted. This was evident from the very beginning of his cinematic career, first as a critic and then as an artist. But there was such joy and youthful romance in the previous work that it was easier to feel the pleasures than to deal with its complexities. The reason I fell in love with his 1966 movie “Masculin Féminin” when I first saw him wasn’t because he described his characters as “sons of Marx and Coca-Cola” – I fell in love because I was young. She was beautiful and broke my heart.

Over time, I’ve learned how to watch Godard, though in fact I think he taught me how to watch. Early exposure to avant-garde cinema helped me with this simply because by the time I started researching Godard’s work, I already knew that films don’t necessarily have to be obvious. Sometimes, I needed to solve a puzzle through them; Sometimes, you need to get lost. There is tremendous pleasure in getting lost in the movies, in letting the sometimes awkwardly exciting and unfamiliar overwhelm you, letting images and sounds sink into your body while your mind tries to make sense of what’s going on.

It is his first advantage, “breathless(1960), Godard invites us to open our minds and hearts as he pushes cinema beyond its industrial standards, stretching the narrative, exploring realism and navigating the space between classic and modernity. He inserted reams of text into his work, added many voices, then stopped and started flowing, drowning out the soundtrack. with music, flooding the screen with color.As he pushed and pulled, he defied and occasionally assaulted viewers.Trying to explain his latest show—not to mention writing an eloquent synopsis of it—became more difficult, and one reason, I think, was that many critics expressed their hostility to him.

The feud definitely brought back the feud in interviews and in his films. Over time, he provoked boring, irritating, and fiercely anti-fun controversies, and his language became more insular, private, and subtle. He became an epistemological voice of cinema and a pariah, at least in mainstream circles. He has repeatedly insulted the United States, spoken out repeatedly about the Holocaust, and repeatedly played on Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians, sometimes to the point of alarm and, for some observers, to the point of overt anti-Semitism. I think what he was doing often, sometimes clumsily and clumsily, was wrestling with history, memory, and civilization.

One of the most moving things I find about Godard is that even as the films have changed, he has done so too. He worked in television before it was acceptable for serious filmmakers to do so, and when movies went digital, he also found a new, shocking beauty with them. He smudges the colors and makes them pop, playing with his new media kit with the amazing creativity of someone discovering their brilliance. In his 2014 filmGoodbye language“He got involved in 3-D, showing me images I had neither seen nor seen since. Watching him in Cannes, where the audience cheered and almost rose from their seats, remains one of the greatest experiences of my cinematic life.

Godard became shamefully marginalized, relegated to the festival circuit and negligible theatrical releases. And unlike his longtime compatriot, Agnès Farda, which became more famous with age, receded from view. Their relationship plays a role in Varda’s 2017 essay film,”faces of placesMeander through history and the memory she made with artist JR. At the end of the film, Varda and JR appear at Godard’s house in Rolle, Switzerland. It’s been years since she’s seen him but Godard refuses to come to the door or even acknowledge their presence, causing her to cry.

I always thought the real reason Godard didn’t come out to say hi to Varda was because he didn’t like or respect JR. JR Varda has helped tremendously but his work is not on the same level as that of Godard or hers. However, the old man could have come out to say hello to his friend. He could have simply whispered good morning Through the door pebbled characteristic of him. But Godard was clearly not interested, and unlike Varda, who attracted fans who often thought she was a nice old lady, he didn’t play the game.

He didn’t have to. Farda was a woman in a man’s world and had learned how to work in the room, a habit–and a burden–that was not necessary for Godard, the once terrible child, a former evil cinema genius who faded into a caricature of himself, almost like Lear: “Poor, frail, weak old man. and despised.” Godard played with this image of a rude, eccentric, cigar guru nibbling on cigars from his cinema past while in reality he remained a prophet of his as-yet-unfulfilled future. Despite his reputation and all the scandals, his sarcastic aperçus and the air of vitriolic pessimism, he was an amazing optimist.

A few years ago, a friend sent me some Google Maps coordinates, and he excitedly told me that if you clicked on them you could see Godard walks On some Rolle streets with Anne-Marie Miéville, his third wife and constant collaborator. I clicked the link excitedly, and there he was, caught halfway, his face blurred but distinct and recognizable in the sun-brushed photos. He was dressed in dark clothes and was carrying a light colored plastic bag. At one point, they appeared next to a red car and flashed on all the cars and colors in his movies. It was very ordinary but very extraordinary. I like to think that he and Mayville just went out shopping. I hope they are happy. Somehow, I found Godard, but my search will never end.

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