Eight-Part Documentary | France/Switzerland | French | 4h46m
Dir: Jean-Luc Godard | Scr: Jean-Luc Godard | Ph: Pierre Binggeli & Hervé Duhamel | Ed: Jean-Luc Godard | Narrator: Jean-Luc Godard | Cast: Juliette Binoche, Julie Delpy, Anne-Marie Miéville, André Malraux, Ezra Pound, Paul Celan
In eight parts of roughly half an hour, Nouvelle Vague pioneer Jean-Luc Godard describes in words and images his relationship with the cinema and its history. Though often dazzling, just as often – if not more so – it proves rather frustrating. It doesn’t really work as film history, as a prior knowledge of the works explored is pretty much a must. As a piece of abstract film-making, it works much better, with some of the images, complete with imaginative superimpositions and inspired juxtapositions, proving really rather stunning – though seldom are these held on screen for long enough to be fully appreciated (the above image, for example, came and went in just the blink of an eye). The film’s sound design is also very much hit and miss, whilst its editing ranges from the brilliant to the nipple-tweakingly annoying. Histoire(s) du cinema, then, is perhaps a work best enjoyed with a remote control close at hand, with the pause, fast-forward, and mute buttons likely to come in very handy.