Back Where We Come From...

By James Leahy


1 What is Culture Secretary Chris Smith’s solution to the problems of independent and national cinemas, now drowning in tidal waves of Coca Cola?

chris-smith.jpgHere a single still is associated with two questions

2 And what is the similarly infelicitous solution of European Commission President, Jacques Santer?

3 What is the function of Vertigo?

4 Who described the bedroom dialogues in À Bout de souffle, between Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) and Patricia (Jean Seberg) as “prolonged and idiotic palaver”?

5 Who attacked À Bout de souffle because it was inconceivable that a character such as Michel Poiccard could have had a clarinetist as a father?

belmondo.jpgHere a single still is associated with two questions

6 Who argued that “Belmondo’s otherwise masterly performance is marred by the way in which his psychopathological worship of Humphrey Bogart is being constantly and boringly stressed in repeated facial tricks...”?

7 Who claimed that: “... the theory of specificity is influential now only in the field of criticism; the film-makers themselves have long since sacrificed it on the altar of demand...” citing the news that: “Godard... is adapting his next film from Moravia, as many have done before him...”?

breathless-jean-luc-godard.jpg Breathless, 1960

And by whose “lack of culture” had this same writer always been astonished?

9 Why is Alphaville science fiction?

le-mepris-jean-luc-godard.jpgJack Palance (Prokosh) and Brigitte Bardot (Camille) in Le Mépris

10 Who was seen as the worst director of actors since Sternberg and Bresson? Why?

11 Whose work is “characterised by an absence of emotion and an overbearing concern with the film’s surface”?

alphaville-jean-luc-godard.jpgAnna Karina (Natasha von Braun) and Eddie Constantine (Lemmy Caution) in Alphaville

12 Who, with what film, demonstrated that he hadn’t “anything very much to say”, so that one ended: “with a vague sense of infantilism, partly due to the film’s violent repudiation of feeling, partly due to its mythomaniacal devotion to a washed-up B-picture world which never really existed in the first place...”? And what was the result?

13 Who had “not caught up with the literature that they so despise...”, and had “no roots in the intellectual realities of their time...”?

14 Who “wears dark glasses to hide from the world the fact that he’s in a permanent state of ocular masturbation, rubbing himself off against anything and everything on which his eye alights...” and “keeps babbling on about the world being absurd because he can’t keep an intellectual hard on long enough to probe for any responsive warmth.”?

15 Where can one find the whole of Godard?

16 Who wrote: “Godard’s films, which seem to me ludicrously bad, fascinate several people whose opinions I respect... His evocations of an emotionally and morally lost world would appeal to my acquaintances’ disillusionment, their pain... finding themselves in today’s cool, fluid, cynical world... all his experiments with narrative amount to a compromise between the narrative and the essay... and in this Chris Marker’s and Agnes Varda’s movies have gone far beyond Godard’s: being more demanding, they are less popular...”

17 Which film “set the fashion for any old thing done in any old way”?

18 Were all the critics who attacked Godard and the New Wave in the 1960s dickheads?

19 Who had “the temerity to end” which film “with an echo of Belmondo’s death in À Bout de souffle”?


1 Bigger budgets.

2 More glitzty awards

3 To emulate the arc, providing a sanctuary where apostles of cinematic diversity can shelter from the floods, and search for signs of life elsewhere.

4 Peter John Dyer. (Monthly Film Bulletin, July 1961)

5 We can’t remember! Answers please to Vertigo. Mark you envelopes GODARD QUIZ. A free issue of Vertigo 9 for the first correct entry.

6 Peter John Dyer, op. cit.

7 Robert Benayoun (‘The King is Naked’, Positif 46, 1962, translated for The New Wave, a collection edited by Peter Graham, Cinema One, Secker and Warburg and the B.F.I., London 1948).

8 Truffaut’s.

Jules et Jim script: “…in Jules et Jim, François Truffaut has ended up by shooting just the kind of film he would once have attacked: the very principle of a commentary lifted straight from the book… (Jeanne Moreau (Catherine), Henri Serre (Jim) and Oskar Werner (Jules)).” …and read, quite simple, on the soundtrack, contradicts, all that he was foolish enough one day to write. By this I mean that Truffaut… had a lot of luck to come across a good book, to have liked and understood it.” (op. cit.)

9 Because: “the technological references are simply a network of metaphors. If Godard talks about ‘galactic space’ and shows us a car driving down a road it’s because seeing a road as ‘galactic space’ is a characteristic schizophrenic experience and Godard is talking about schizophrenia…” (Raymond Durgnat: ‘Asides on Godard’, a dissenting voice in The Films of Jean-Luc Godard, Movie Paperbacks, Studio Vista, London 1967).

10 Godard, because “he does not believe in feelings”. (Durgnat, op. cit.).

11 Wong Kar-Wai’s. (Remila, Vertigo 7).

12 Godard, with À Bout de souffle. As a result, he: “trapped himself in that familiar artistic cul-de-sac – the film all dressed up for rebellion, but with no tangible territory on which to stand and fight,” (Dyer, op. cit.)

13 The film-makers of the Nouvelle Vague. (Benayoun, op. cit.)

14 Godard; “the flicking glance of his camera is the constant dribble of premature ejaculation. It is an unseeing stare…” (Durgnat, op. cit.).

15 In certain scenes of Knave of Hearts or Gli Italiani si Voltano, an episode in Amore in Citta. The former was directed by Rene Clement, the latter by Lattuada, both directors for whom: “The Nouvelle Vague… displays the greatest comtempt.” (Benayoun op. cit.).

16 Durgnat (op. cit.).

17 À Bout de souffle. Benayoun (op. cit.): “although this fashion certainly arose from a deep dissatisfaction with traditional filmic language, it could never raise its convulsions above the leve of untidiness… Godard, at the present stage of his career, is no longer creating cinema: moreover, he is trying very hard not to look too much as though he is… Any film-maker who claims to say something without having a precise idea of what the creative act implies remains a mere techinician possessed by a functional frenzy. The cinema cannot be reduced to a syntax of repeatable devices, nor can Cinemascope and the zoom lens play the part of a linguistic manifesto… Godard attaches no importance to anything he says… he says anything that come into his head, just as he films anything that comes into his head.”

18 Unfortunately not. Whilst Peter John Dyer quickly become and icons of what the new generation regarded as an old and outmoded school of critical writing, even his work is not without insight. The criticism of both Durgnat and Benayoun has made an important and positive contribution to film culture.

19 Hal Hartley in Amateur is the wrong answer!

Godard in Bande à part is the right answer!