Screening Modernism: European Art Cinema, 1950-1980

By András Bálint Kovács | Go to book overview

19
Political Modernism, 1967–1975

Commenting on the fact that in 1966 Godard made three films in a single year, and comparing him to Sacha Guitry, Michel Delahaye makes the following remarks:

Guitry's cinema was a cinema of the period between two wars. Godard's cin-
ema is a cinema between two worlds. By then, time stood still; no one knew
what was going to happen. Now we know: time has gone crazy Now ev-
erything is in a turbulence, and in this turbulence an old world is agonizing
and a new one is about to come into being. In pain and in blood of course.
In the sense Céline put it: “The Pithecanthropus changes mythology. Blood
will spurt.” And in the films of Godard blood spurts We can see that the
urgency to show and to say leads to the urgency of formal, economic, and
political subversion.1

The apocalyptic tone of these remarks was certainly inspired by the mounting political tension in Western societies, reflected immediately in Godard's sudden shift toward a certain political radicalism in Made in U.S.A. and Two or Three Things I Know About Her. And Delahaye obviously could not know that these two films were nothing when compared with what Godard would do the next year in terms of political radicalism (although he mentions already La Chinoise). Not to mention the year after, and the year after that…

If the driving force behind “romantic modernism” was a critique of conventional forms of cinematic representation, and a desire to reinvent art cinema according to a personal, subjective experience, which was true for almost every trend of modern cinema of the early 1960s, in the second

1. Michel Delahaye, “Jean-Luc Godard ou l'urgence de l'art,” Cahiers du cinéma 187 (Feb-
ruary 1967): 29.

-349-

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