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More on Jean-Luc Godard     
NEW! See rare interview footage with Jean-Luc Godard in our Film Archive
Godard - Eloge de l'amour
Jean-Luc Godard had a fortunate upbringing and a superb education consisting of studies in Switzerland and then in ethnology at the Sorbonne in Paris. He'd spend his free time (and most of his lecture time) on the Left Bank watching movies and attending underground film meetings. At twenty he met André Bazin at a cinema club. Bazin introduced him to Francois Truffaut, Jacques Rivette, Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer.
Between them they conceived a spontaneous, impulsive, vibrant and totally original style of cinema - French New Wave.
71 next week, Godard has just released his latest film, the first in
competition at Cannes for over 10 years, Eloge de L'amour In Praise of
Love), you may have caught it at London recently.
How do you come to deal with the present in black-and-white and the past
Is that what gives the impression that the past sheds light on the present?
Eloge de l'amour is very structured, more than usual.
Why did the film take so long?
So it's much more difficult than, say, with a painter or a novelist, to go: "We'll shoot this, but we know we're shooting to move on to something else; still, you have to go through this, it's practice. You shoot to practice, not to come up with a good shot. You practice because the game is coming up in two weeks." It's hard to do that, besides you're not aware of it, but later, during editing, you suddenly say: "All this goes and this is all that's left in the end." And this time I said: "It's a miracle!"
So the film was shot in several sections. In February, then in September. Then in Brittany. At that point, I didn't know what I wanted to do. It was a bit frantic. I didn't really know, but I must have heard something. My vacation in Brittany was with family. There were too many personal things. I couldn't tell the difference between what was personal and what was the film.
I remember that JLG on JLG was a film I shot very quickly because one
day I read in the contract: "Delivery in a month." But the film
was about me, it answered to me. Whereas with Eloge de l'amour I had to
answer to the film, but I realised that I was asking the film to answer
to me, and that wasn't clear. So Brittany wasn't easy to get in the can,
as they say. Then I acted in Anne-Marie Miéville's film, which
did me a lot of good, but we had to put everything off for four months,
so the production turned out disjointed.
The Resistance of World War II is something we have difficulty finding out about. It comes back again roughly a half-century later, just long enough to skip the generation of the parents. Later, it goes down in textbooks and people's memories. I've always been absorbed by the mid-century, by the Second World War, which were the years of my innocent adolescence, and which I felt guilty about later.
Emmanuel Astier once said that there was a brief moment early in the Resistance in which money wasn't an end but a means. I can understand that. If, when you make a film, you manage to create something, and money is a means and not an end, then that's production, if it's genuine. Then come the other sectors, which in France all deserve their names. Language clearly describes the three terms: production, distribution and exhibition. In Hollywood, there's no more production, all that's left is distribution, which is under the thumb of exhibition and television broadcasting. In television, there's no more production, except a few pockets from time to time, certain sporting events or interviews. Besides, we say wildlife programs, not wildlife film production. We talk of a TV network like we do a food distribution network. When producers like Darryl Zanuck and Louis B Meyer made 40 films a year, they werent making films on an assembly line. Today it's very difficult. Renault car ads tell it like it is. In the past, they used to say automobile manufacturers. Today we say automobile creators.
At what point do you know what works and what doesn't?
Sometimes, a take do eight takes of a scene, you don't sense that doing eight takes, for whatever reason, is a clinical sign, a symptom. If the film is good, the symptom is correct.
Sometimes images return several times, like waves breaking on the shore.
Is it to slow down the course of things?
In some shots you use the freeze frame, like the start of a shot where
you think you're seeing a painting.
You say that putting Godard on the front page of a newspaper hurts your