Third Cinema

Criterion Files

Much of Jean-Luc Godard’s cinematic output is inaccessible to American audiences. His most prolific period, the 1960s (in which he made 18 feature films) is almost entirely available, due in no small part to the Criterion Collection’s well-justified infatuation with the cineaste’s important and influential work. The output of much of his later career, however, isn’t commercially accessible in the US including much-lauded work like Nouvelle Vague (1990) and the Histoire(s) du Cinema entries (1988-98). In fact, Tout va Bien (1972 – his most recent title included in the Collection) is to my knowledge the only film he made in the 1970s that’s available on Region 1 DVD. This is all to say that here in the US, what we know of Godard we know mostly the first decade of his career. While it’s unfortunate that cinephiles have minimal access to his later work, this complaint is not meant to undervalue the importance of the work he did in the 1960s. Godard made an unbelievable amount of brilliant and challenging work in an astoundingly short amount of time, and by 1970 he had emerged as a different kind of filmmaker altogether. Godard’s 1960s work is, in a sense, the only logical starting point in order to approach an understanding of this later work. Godard’s films are an ongoing exercise in personal growth, aesthetic experimentation, and political criticism. Each work builds off of what came before. With this weekend’s US release of Godard’s most recent work, Film Socialisme, the gaps in […]

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Criterion Files

I’ve watched Gillo Pontecorvo’s landmark film The Battle of Algiers (1966) many times. I remember the circumstances of viewing each and every time, because each time I see it, it affects me more profoundly than the last. The film alone is astounding, distressing, exhausting, shocking, beautiful, and it still feels urgent forty-five years after its release and more than fifty-five years after the events depicted in it took place. I’m both surprised and thankful time and again that such a film was ever even able to get made. I rarely write about my personal relationship to a film as I believe it risks obscuring the critical lens that I wish to take to it, but the fact that each time I watch The Battle of Algiers is different than the last speaks rather appropriately to the film’s historical role. As famous screenings and topical revisitations conversantly continue to take place around the film, it acquires new historical profundity and greater relevance as time moves forward, hardly speaking exclusively to the 1957 battle of the film’s title.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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