Comolli argued that in the wake of the nouvelle vague what had changed irrevocably was less the 'art' of cinema than 'a certain conception of the entertainment industry', in other words that conditions of work, economic structures, technical As a result more films were being made outside of the traditional market and were finding audiences. Comolli's statement came in an issue which focussed on new cinema in Brazil 'cinema novo' and Quebec. R2 As Comolli pointed out, these cinemas had in common not only their novelty, nor even the fact that they came from countries with little tradition of film production, but also leach finds itself at the sharp point of a struggle which is not only artistic but which involves a society, a morality, a civilization: cinemas of revolution'.
And, since these films were difficult for many people to see, Cahiers had 'chosen to be part of the struggle' by helping to get such films shown. A year and a half later - and the intervening period must be read in terms of the already sharply more militant tone - Comolli answers: Certainly, no longer should it be Olympian, lofty and detached, braiding together crowns and interpretations; no longer, either, should it be oracular, Pythian, making the dead speak. Rather, it must be compromised and implicated up to the neck in work being done now, criticism which finishes off the dying on the field of battle, no longer criticism which rifles the pockets of corpses; criticism as a result of which cinema is more dangerous, more effective, more present Criticism must therefore not only go down into the arena, but it must fight and debate there with every available means - writing, thinking and - less noble and perhaps more useful - action.
A qui la faute ? : Réponse à Léon Tolstoï. La sonate à Kreutzer (LITT.GENERALE) (French Edition)
For example, the currents affecting Cahiers in the s inevitably also affected a magazine like Posit;f, the other single most important film journal in France. The effects were different because the roots of Positif were in different soil. Their interest in Brecht, for example, was more 'natural' to them since they had always been more leftist, and there is not the 'discovery' of Brecht that one feels in Cahiers. Similarly more natural was the growing interest in Cuban cinema, Brazilian 'cinema novo' and the whole new cinema phenomenon in film-makers such as Jancso, Makavejev, Skolimowski, Bertolucci, Bellochio, all figures as central for Positif as they were for Cahiers.
The political stance of Positif significantly affected its attitude to the French nouvelle vague: as we have seen, violent in its opposition to the film-makers of the Cahiers group, whose films they found not only incompetent technically but also morally and politically at best uncommitted, at worst reactionary, but lavish in their praise of the 'Left Bank' group of Resnais, Varda and others. Most striking is the difference - and not only in the s - in their attitudes to American cinema, attitudes stemming from two different sources: on the one hand, the inheritance still very much alive - from surrealism, and on the other, the commitment.
Thus, from the former came a consistent interest in the horror movie and the 'fantastic' in general Sternberg and Corman, for example , in certain kinds of crazy comedy especially Tashlin and Jerry Lewis and in eroticism and the star phenomenon particularly women stars like Marilyn Monroe, Kim Novak, Louise Brooks, but also, for instance, Brigitte Bardot, an interest pursued with much of the implicit misogyny of the early surrealists.
And from the latter, a consistent interest in liberal, humanist film-makers like Huston, Brooks, Penn, a rehabilitated Kazan.
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Very few of these concerns and interests were not equally evident in Cahiers, but the perspective was often rather different. Something of the duality of interests if not schizophrenia in Positif may be suggested by its June-July issue: editorial comments on the Langlois affair and the Estates-General of the French Cinema,8s followed by a - doubtless long-planned - 'Lexicon of Eroticism in the Cinema'. Taking a broader perspective in a different sense, it is clear that the disenchantment of Cahiers with American cinema cannot be separated off from more significant political and economic developments in the US during the This was a period heavily marked by economic and military expansion by the US, Vietnam being the most obvious instance, of course, but also in the spread of transnational conglomerates, an activity specially relevant to the media industries, including film-making; and the nouvelle vague film-makers had now some more practical experience of the effects of these developments.
This was a period marked by growing anti-Americanism among many European intellectuals. Despite growing anti-Americanism, despite the radical revaluation of American cinema, and despite the commitment to new cinema, American cinema was not in any sense 'dropped' by Cahiers. But, as this volume makes clear, there was a need both to talk about a different American cinema - experimental and often political film-makers like Peter Emmanuel Goldman, Shirley Clarke, Juleen Compton, Robert Kramer and, represented in this volume, John Cassavetes87 - and to re-think the Hollywood auteurs as well as to re-read and re-position works of the past.
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This was sometimes related to the The tendency - fully exemplified in this volume by Comolli's 'The Ironical Howard Hawks' and Narboni's 'Against the Clock: Red Line '92 - was often to treat the late works as being about the auteur's whole oeuvre and, by extension, about the cinema itself. Cahiers needed to make sense of them in auteur terms at the same time as it questioned conventional auteur principles and marked the works off from more typical Hollywood products.
After ten films we already begin to talk about an author. After thirty, we talk about him a lot. But past a hundred, how can we still talk about what the author is? What 'thematic' can we derive when the repetition more than a hundred times over of the same themes, situations, relationships, roles, must clearly have led to an infinite diversity of nuances or, on the contrary, to a whittling away until the friction of one against the other has reduced them all to nothing?
Depending on the point of view, Ford seems rich and confused, or perfunctory and narrow. As well as the re-reading of Hawks represented in this volume, Hitchcock - the other half of the hitchcocko-hawksien epithet from the s was also subjected to a different kind of reading consonant with the newer critical concerns of the later s, however much it may have grown equally out of earlier accounts like Jean Douchet's 'Hitch and his Audience'. Thus, Sylvain Codet: 'At the start, Hitchcock shows us his cards, refusing the facility of a plot that would rest solely on the identity of the characters, choosing and assuming his actors with their mythologies.
Within the framework of these welldefined types, Hitchcock interests himself only in variations and modulations.
The critical work of cracking apart did not take place only in the form of written criticism. New cinema was a vital critical practice, addressing itself to established forms as well as to established modes of production. The nouvelle vague had been, certainly, an important development in this process, even if it had not set out to be. Both were stages on the cinema's route towards a financially and aesthetically viable means of survival: an alternative, that is, to the sort of film-making that, wherever it takes place, is still best conjured up by the word Hollywood In the wake of the New Wave, and provoked to a large extent by the experience of the films themselves, has come more formal discussion about the cinema than there has been since the abortive theorizing of the 'twenties.
This process undermined many of the preconceptions about film which had been accepted equally by the 'commercial' and 'art' cinemas. Here the key figure has been Godard The New Wave has provided not so much the inspiration for the films described in this book - many of them were made before their directors had seen films by Godard and the rest - but has created the pre-conditions for their acceptance. As Cameron says, Godard was the key figure.
And in many ways the politicization of Godard - Brecht's influence expanding on him after the formal Brechtianism of films like Vivre sa vie and becoming more pervasive and more deeply understood in its politics in films like Deux au trois chases que je sais d' elle and La Ch inoise - parallels the politiciza tion of Call iers. Despite the early s emphasis on formal innovation, there were at the same time the beginnings of a sense of the politics of a new cinema, a politics of form as well as of content.
Luc Moullet, back in in his article 'Jean-Luc Godard', already recognized some of this, a sense of the different directions which the nouvelle vague would take, when he contrasted the Godard of A bout de souffle with Truffaut: 'where Truffaut applies himself to the task of making our own civilization fit a classical framework, Godard - more honestly - seeks a rationale for our age from within itself'.
From a very different perspective - also crucial for any consideration of what happened to the nouvelle vague and what it represented over the decade - Rohmer' 5 interview, 'The Old and the New', and Truffaut's interview offer There is a very real discordance and tension between Rohmer's and Truffaut's readings of the meanings of the nouvelle vague and, for example, Comolli's determination, in his 'Polemic: Lelouch, or the Clear Conscience', to distinguish Lelouch's work from what, for him, the nouvelle vague represented. It is a tension and discordance even clearer, perhaps, between the Rohmer and Truffaut interviews on the one hand, and the interview with Godard 'Struggling on Two Fronts' and the interview with Rivette 'Time Overflowing'IOS on the other.
By it was Godard and Rivette, of the ex-Cahiers faction of the l'Vcllc vague, who best represented in their work what had happened to critical writing in Cahiers in the s. Godard's interview, in particular, bears eloquent testimony to the process of politicization which had taken place, and Godard's 'Manifesto' in the press-book for La Chinoise, August , can serve as a kind of summary of where Godard and Cahiers were situating themselves as May drew closer: Fifty years after the October Revolution, the American industry rules cinema the world over.
There is nothing much to add to this statement of fact. Except that on our own modest level we too should provoke two or three Vietnams in the bosom of the vast Hollywood-Cinecitta-Mosfilm-Pinewood-etc. Before these critics carne together to form, or write for, Movie, in , their ideas had already been taken up and challenged in other journals.
Extracts from some of these. The debate in Britain overlapped with the debate in the US, but began with a response to Cahiers then centred very much on the mediation of Caltiers in the work of American critic Andrew Sarris.
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Cameron, Perkins, Shivas, 'Commitment in Films', op. Chs 11 and 13 in this volume. Roud, 'The French Line', op. Sarris, 'Notes on the Auteur Theory in ', op. Chs 12 and 14 in this volume. Chs 1, 3, 5 and 24 in this volume. Chs 14 and 16 in this volume. Labarthe, 'Promethee enchainee', Calliers , October , pp.
On the 'modernity' of Dreyer, d. For Andre Bazin's 'Evolution du western', in the same issue, see note 20 above. Bazin's main work on neo-realism is collected in Bazin, What is Chlema? We should remember that Brecht's writings in Brecht on Theatre were not widely available in English until and, more generally, that contemporary understandings of Brecht owe a good deal to the context of post debates on the politics of culture.
Barthes's comments in his interview, Ch. Boulez, born , was probably the leading contemporary composer, pianist and conductor in France, central to developments in musique concrete and in serial music. The work of Levi-Strauss, born , in anthropology became extremely important over a much wider field in the development of structural or structuralist critical methodology. Levi-Strauss's main works before were translated as Structural Anthropology, Harmondsworth, Penguin, originally published Paris, , collecting papers from the period ; The Elementary Structures of Kinship , London, Eyre and.
Levi-Strauss's place in the development of structuralism is charted in Barthes's Critical Essays see, for example, the essay 'The Structuralist Activity'.