Henri Langlois, Georges Franju, and Jean Mitry, founded the Cinémathèque Française (a Paris-based film theater and museum) in 1936 which progressed from ten films in 1936 to more than 60,000 films by the early 70s. More than just an archivist, Langlois saved, restored and showed many films that were at risk of disintegration. Films are stored in celluloid, a material which requires a highly controlled environment and some degree of attention to survive over time.
During the Second World War, Langlois and his colleagues helped to save many films that were in risk of being destroyed due to the Nazi occupation of France. Continue reading
Two voices. One French, one American. A political tract concerning the issues of Communism in the workplace and ideals of freedom and equality, post-May, 1968, is recited back and forth over an obscured image of bodies slumbering in what appears to be a garden. The image is pastoral and idyllic in presentation, suggesting an almost abstract quality devoid of time and place. After a series of static images that simply observe these scenarios – largely with no real movement within the frame – we see a small group of actors preparing themselves for a film. As we continue, these actors, who speak Italian and are dressed in period costume, wander through this idyllic location as the narration goes on to discuss a cinema of revolution and the history of politics in cinema dating as far back as Sergei Eisenstein. Through this, the filmmakers are able to reflect on the notions of politics and history in both a cultural and cinematic sense; creating in the process a film that collapses elements of genuine historical fact, and superimposes them over the struggles and issues of the present day. Continue reading
Born in a decade of political turmoil, La Chinoise has become a cinematic marker for the significant historical events that surrounded its creation. Five Parisian students, their political awareness aroused by Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book and the Chinese Cultural Revolution, envision an overthrow of Western governmental systems – which they aim to bring about through acts of terrorism. One of Godard’s most brilliant films of the 60s, its success lies in the rejection of traditional narrative techniques: it is a dialectical charade which is as disturbing as it is comical. Though criticised in its day as a political manipulation, La Chinoise has proven alarmingly prophetic and its impact on audiences during the late 60s is echoed amongst viewers today. Continue reading
Plot Synopsis from AMG
This controversial spy-romance tale by Jean-Luc Godard was banned from release in France for three years because it refers to the use of torture on both the French and Algerian sides during the Algerian struggle for independence. The story focuses on Bruno Forestier (Michel Subor), a young, disillusioned man who becomes involved in politics, yet in spite of the fact that he stands up to torture and commits murder because of this involvement, he does not have deep political beliefs. Also featured is his lover Veronica Dreyer (Anna Karina, then-wife of director Jean-Luc Godard appearing in her first film) as a motivating factor in Bruno’s behavior.
Eleanor Mannikka Continue reading