A Double Bind

By Damien Sanville

cinema-n-14-colin-self.jpgColin Self, Cinema N°14, 1965

An image of the Virgin and her baby on a donkey doesn't cause a war; its interpretation by a text is what will lead to war and cause Luther's soldiers to go and deface Raphael canvases. I have a strong feeling that the image enables us to talk less and say more. – Jean-Luc Godard in interview with Youssef Ishaghpour

I would like to begin this editorial by thanking Jean-Luc Godard. His films were part of our everyday life. They taught us another way of speaking and seeing, in other words of thinking and feeling. Then there was a gap, I didn't follow him anymore, I made new friends; philosophers, poets, writers, other filmmakers. Later on, I saw Of the Origin of the XXI Century and The Old Place. Through these two short films, I reconciled myself with his cinema and understood the depth of his humanism, a humanism which is demanding, intransigent, Nietzschean. It took me a while not to judge his films individually but to see his work as a whole. His oeuvre is, just as colour is.

There are very few important books written about film or cinema. Maybe one should only read Bresson's Notes on the Cinematographer to understand what cinema is. Everything else is better written, or thought of in philosophy, poetry and literature. The problem is when film critics' references are confined to the subject they are writing about, producing the theoretical mise-en-abyme of specialist's jargon. So why more writings on film? To incite, by any means, the desire to see these films which otherwise would be lost in the cultural wasteland we are crossing.

We recently acquired Vertigo Magazine which, since 1993, has been among the most serious publications of writing on film. Who are "We"? Close-Up Film Centre is a company established in London, which includes a film library, film screening and publication of Vertigo Magazine. We say "Centre" but there is not really a centre, as our activities are scattered around various buildings, houses, and a basement. We started with the idea to make films more accessible than archives and institutions, which are usually open to the same elites. Our aim remains to facilitate access to film culture and create encounters which otherwise wouldn't be possible.

With Vertigo, we will dedicate ourselves to maintain the diversity of writing that made its unique voice throughout its history. We will also focus on what happens between the works of cinema and of the art world. We want to have done with definitions such as "experimental" cinema because the cinema we're interested in always starts from an experiment. To paraphrase Godard there is no experimental cinema, there is only cinema. We also want to have done with the art world's dismissal of cinema as an art form. Eventually we want to show that all these are only manners of speaking.

Vertigo Magazine takes inspiration from Godard's oeuvre. Godard is one if not the most influential filmmaker to explore the role of the moving image within aesthetics, politics and history. His work represents in its most emblematic way the crossover between the poetical and the historical, cinema and the arts, which will also be at the core of our publication. A "double bind", Guattari's crayfish.

We sent Godard a letter hoping that he would contribute to this issue. Even a sign of disapproval would have done. His silence seems to speak for itself...