Jean-Luc Godard’s 2018 film ‘The Image Book’ (Le Livre d’image) opens at Film Society of Lincoln Center on Friday, January 25, 2019. It screens daily through January 31. $15
‘The Image Book’
The 87 year-old pioneer of French New Wave Cinema in the 1960s keeps making striking films. Here one of the great masters of the film medium comments on the postmodern deconstruction of the moving image from a group experience in the cinema to a lonely show on a phone screen.
Godard has been present almost every step of the way in the transition of film from analog to digital. He hasn’t thrown out anything he learned along the way. The imagery is a kaleidoscopic collage of found images and films he made since ‘Histoire(s) du Cinema’ (1988-1998).
The movie is a collaboration with Fabrice Aragno who is cinematographer, co-editor and co-producer. It was shot on analog and then moved to digital. Knowing that life is a mix of joy and sorrow, Godard refuses to try and fix things. You can’t go back and fix real life the way you can a film. He lets captured images play out as they will.
The movie is as much a sound poem as cinema. Your experience of it varies depending on where you sit in the theater. But Godard also planned for it to be seen on the smallest of small screens.
Godard is mature enough to stop looking for perfection because he knows that sometimes the real beauty lies in the mistake. That was always part of the New Wave ethic, but nearing life’s end, Godard even more profoundly sees beauty in things that are falling apart.
In some ways, it’s hard to tell whether this is cinema or art. It is probably both.
True to form, Godard also makes social commentary. He seems to be saying that as clever as we humans are, we haven’t been able to recognize and avoid the great atrocities of our time. We refuse to believe our own eyes until it is too late.
At this point, nobody knows when we’ll see Godard’s last film. He still works daily, but no longer travels in person. That gives each new work a special poignance. We might be witnessing the first human recording of what people report as “my life flashed before my eyes.” In his case, Godard is doing it in slow motion, one movie at a time over the course of the thirty years.
Change can be jaw-dropping, but it is beautiful. Life is a book of fragmented memories. In the end all things come together as one.
‘The Image Book’ premiered at the 2018 New York Film Festival. The Casa Azul production is a Kino Lorber release.
‘The Image Book’ Tickets
Tickets are available at the door or online at www.filmlinc.org
Film Society of Lincoln Center
Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th St, New York, NY 10023
(between Amsterdam and Broadway)