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Quotes / Jean-Luc Godard

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By Godard

All you need to make a film is a girl and a gun.

When the law isn't just, justice comes before the law.
— Title card from his film, Filme Socialisme.

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a musical score
a bunch of keys"
Histoire(s) du Cinéma (documental project made by Godard), Episode 4a, Tribute to Alfred Hitchcock

About Godard

What you see with Godard...is that ten years later, after the movie, you see that he was telling the story. But because of his modern mise-en-scène, the story wasn’t exposed. It appears over time. And in that way he’s like Picasso, or Einstein. Because he’s searching, he’s searching and he finds...People walk out of Godard movies because they say there’s no story, there’s no logic. But there is a story. It’s just exposed differently. For instance, in a classic film you’ll have an actor who says, “I’m the President of the United States.” In a Godard film, you’ll have an actor saying nothing, and you’ll have a voice coming in from somewhere saying, “Mr. President, do you want a glass of water?” That’s his method of exposition. It’s hard to understand. And you need to understand that logic to be moved by the movie. But with time and maybe one sentence in the program, these movies can touch people. Slowly we’re catching up.

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"Godard is a constant source of inspiration. Before I do anything, I go back and look at as many of his films as I can, as a reminder of what’s possible."

What directors—especially the good ones — put into their films is different from what comes out of the viewing of those films. Directors are an authority on the former, which is why an interview with a good director is almost always worthwhile. But, when it comes to the experience of watching a film, the director doesn’t know any more or any better than the average viewer. One great director who understands this is Jean-Luc Godard, who discussed the matter with me when I interviewed him in 2000. We were talking about “La Chinoise,” his 1967 collage-like drama about a cell of young Maoists in Paris and their inclinations toward political violence, which, I thought, he filmed with a significant degree of critical distance. He agreed, but said that, at the time of the filming, his critical perspective was 'unconscious,' adding, "My unconscious was right, but it’s the cinema that was right...often what the auteur says is even less right, because the auteur is in what he does, not in what he says."
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