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The Essentials: Readings and Viewings on Godard’s ‘Adieu au Langage’

adieu

Over fifty years after Godard helped changed the face of Western cinema with Breathless, his work remains divisive, innovative and for lack of a better word, avant-garde. While Adieu au Langage is Godard’s second foray into 3D technology, it is his first feature length effort using the technique and is far more complex than his short film, 3 Disasters, which was included as a segment in 3x3D. As with much of Godard’s recent work, the film defies conventional understanding of narrative and form. Adieu au Langage pushes the limits of audio visual technology, and has marvelled and frustrated audiences with equal measure. Due to it’s dense style and heavy theoretical grounding, the film has already sparked some beautiful works of film writing. Here is a selection of readings that will hopefully illuminate understanding and inspire more discourse on Godard’s latest work, as well as 3D technology

 

David Bordwell’s Adieu au Langage: 2 + 2 = 3D

Where, some will ask, is the emotion? We want to be moved by our movies. I suggest that with Late Godard, we are mostly not moved by the plot or the characters, though that can happen. What seizes me most forcefully is the virtuoso display of cinematic possibilities. The narrative is both a pretext and a source of words and sounds, forms and textures, like the landscape motifs that painters have used for centuries. From the simplest elements, even the clichés of sunsets and rainy reflections, the film’s composition, color, voices, and music wring out something ravishing.

Movie Mezzanine’s Jake Cole, TIFF review: Goodbye to Language

More than once, Godard even executes an effect that leaves the impression of one stereoscopic camera trained on a shot while the other swivels to follow other action. This isolates two shots at once in each eye, and when viewed with 3D glasses, becomes a kind of superimposition. Godard’s late period has often resorted to using the material innovations of early cinema, especially as developed and codified by the Soviet theorists, in an attempt to “return to zero” and find new applications for cinema’s basic building blocks. But this is something else entirely, not simply a re-use but an outright reinvention.

 

Cinema Scope’s Blake Williams, Cannes 2014 Adieu an langage (Jean Luc Godard, France)

This perverse strategy asks us to do away with interpretation—to bid farewell to cognition, offer a “so long” to translation, and say goodbye to language—while demanding that we simultaneously listen, read, and process information constantly. Evoking a sizable range of cultural and semantics theorists, as well as exhibiting a certain allegiance to the Lacanian Real (an allegiance Godard would likely never admit to), Adieu au langage is a lashing out against the symbolic and semiotic structures that hinder our ability to experience truth in the world, and laments the freedoms lost from so many demarcations and hierarchies, while painfully acknowledging the impossibility of the world without them.

 

The Film Stage’s Peter Labuza, Goodbye to Language 2014 Cannes Review

Yes, this is Godard. This is Late Godard. Beyond Late Godard. Historie(s) investigated the past. Socialisme: the present. And now: the future. It is Cinema 3.0 — 3D.0. We’ve passed the movement-image, the time-image, and into the image-image: the Frankenstein of the 21st century.

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