Histoire(s) du cinéma is a video project begun by Jean-Luc Godard in the late 1980s and completed in 1998. It is always referred to by its French title, because of the wordplay it implies: histoire means both “history” and “story,” and the s in parentheses gives the possibility of a plural. Therefore, the phrase Histoire(s) du cinéma simultaneously means The History of Cinema, The Histories of Cinema, The Story of Cinema and The Stories of Cinema. Similar double and triple meaning, as well as puns, are a recurring motif throughout Histoire(s) and much of Godard’s work.
The densest of Godard’s films, Histoire(s) du cinéma is an examination of the history of the concept of cinema and how it relates to the 20th century; in this sense, it can also be considered a critique of the 20th century and how it perceives itself. The project is considered the major work of the late period of Godard’s career; it is alternately described as an essay and a poem.
Histoire(s) du cinéma consists of 4 chapters, each one subdivided into two parts, making for a total of 8 episodes. The first two episodes, Toutes les histoires (1988) and Une histoire seule (1989) run 52 minutes and 48 minutes, respectively; the remaining 6 episodes, premiered 1997 – 1998, run under 40 minutes each:
Chapter 1(a) : 51 min. Toutes les histoires (1988) – All the (Hi)stories
Chapter 1(b) : 42 min. Une Histoire seule (1989) – A Single (Hi)story
Chapter 2(a) : 26 min. Seul le cinéma (1997) – Only Cinema
Chapter 2(b) : 28 min. Fatale beauté (1997) – Deadly Beauty
Chapter 3(a) : 27 min. La Monnaie de l’absolu (1998) – The Coin of the Absolute
Chapter 3(b) : 27 min. Une Vague Nouvelle (1998) – A New Wave
Chapter 4(a) : 27 min. Le Contrôle de l’univers (1998) – The Control of the Universe
Chapter 4(b) : 38 min. Les Signes parmi nous (1998) – The Signs Among Us
The film was screened out of competition at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival. Nine years later, it was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1997 Festival. –wikipedia
The lynchpin of the French New Wave, Jean-Luc Godard was arguably the most influential filmmaker of the postwar era. Beginning with his groundbreaking 1959 feature debut A Bout de Souffle, Godard revolutionized the motion picture form, freeing the medium from the shackles of its long-accepted cinematic language by rewriting the rules of narrative, continuity, sound, and camera work. Later in his career, he also challenged the common means of feature production, distribution, and exhibition, all in an effort to subvert the conventions of the Hollywood formula to create a new kind of film.
Godard was born in Paris on December 3, 1930, the second of four children. After receiving his primary education in Nyon, Switzerland – during World War II, he became a naturalized Swiss citizen – he studied ethnology at the Sorbonne, but spent the vast majority of his days at the Cine-Club du Quartier Latin, where he first met fellow film fanatics Francois Truffaut and Jacques Rivette. In May… read more
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