Jean-Luc Godard’s experimental movie, this Friday in U.S. theaters, picked up a special Palme d’Or at the last Cannes Film Festival and is as cryptic as it is fascinating.
This is not a documentary. At the age of 87, the Nouvelle Vague icon is back with a puzzling take on cinema. The director focuses on the way in which we create images and the effects they have on viewers. As we know, Godard is not renowned for being accessible to a general audience. Here he subjects audiences to a bombardment of diverse archive material from photos and quotes to snippets of music and excerpts from popular and lesser-known movies. In no particular order, we are treated to Buster Keaton, Hollywood westerns, Jean Cocteau, and Gauguin. However, there is a beauty to the film without having to link or decrypt the countless references. Godard uses these raw resources to bring viewers face to face with cinematic matter by varying the image format and the sound volume.
The movie then transforms into a geopolitical story. Godard takes us to the Middle East where he filmed the only contemporary scenes in his work, leading audiences to consider the meaning of current conflicts and the global chaos in which we live. In a visual and auditory maelstrom, The Image Book offers a poetic manifesto, a moral treatise, and a lesson in cinema.
U.S. release: January 25, 2019
Running time: 1h24
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
With: Jean-Paul Battagia, Fabrice Aragno, Nicole Brenez
U.S. distributor: Kino Lorber