This is a major event in film studies: we hear as if for the first time the live pulse of Godard’s lectures and discussions in Montreal in 1978—a series of fourteen meetings that pave the way for the eight chapters of his Histoire(s) du cinéma (1988–1998). Indispensable to anyone seriously interested in the history and philosophy of film.
— James Williams, Royal Holloway, University of London
The Godard who emerges from Introduction to a True History of Cinema and Television is a quintessential twentieth-century high modernist—the author of an ongoing, not yet completed project comparable in ambition to In Search of Lost Time or The Cantos, composed in an idiolect that, as with Joyce or Picasso or Gertrude Stein, effectively reinvented a medium. — J. Hoberman, The Nation
Introduction to a True History of Cinema and Television
In 1978, just before returning to the international stage for the second phase of his career, the world’s most renowned art-film director then and now, Jean-Luc Godard, improvised a series of fourteen one-hour talks at Concordia University in Montreal as part of a projected video history of cinema. These talks, published in French in 1980 and long out of print, have never before been translated into English. For this edition, the faulty and incomplete French transcription has been entirely revised and corrected, working from the sole videotape copies of the lectures, housed in the Concordia University archives.
For this project, Godard screened for a dozen or so students his own famous films of the 1960s—watching them himself for the first time since their production—alongside single reels of some of the films which most influenced his work (by Eisenstein, Dreyer, Rossellini, the American directors of the 1950s and many others). Working at the dawn of the video age, a technology which was to be essential to his completion of the project many years later, as the visual essay Histoire(s) du cinéma, Godard used pieces of 35mm film, projected in an auditorium, to approximate the historical montage he was groping towards. He then held forth, in an experience he describes as a form of ‘public self-psychoanalysis’, on his personal and professional relationships (with François Truffaut, Anna Karina, Raoul Coutard, film producers and audiences), working methods, aesthetic preferences, political beliefs and, on the cusp of 50, his philosophy of life.
The result is the most extensive and revealing account ever of his work and critical opinions. Never has Godard been as loquacious, lucid and disarmingly frank as he is here. This volume is certain to become one of the great classics of film literature, by perhaps the wittiest and most idiosyncratic genius cinema has known.
Readers familiar with the Histoire(s) du cinéma video project, famous for its enigmatic juxtapositions of fragments of texts and images, will find some of the same works discussed here, providing an invaluable key to the meaning of Godard’s later collages.
Two editions of the book will be printed: a sewn-binding, cloth-covered library edition and a sewn-binding paperback with a thick (15 pt.) card cover that will not curl. Only the best-quality printing and binding materials and techniques are being used to create a handsome and durable volume in either edition. This will be one of the most attractive and well-made books you own. The book is 558 pages, with 150,000 words from Godard’s talks, 30,000 words of commentary and 80 full-page illustrations, twenty-four of which are in Godard’s hand and the rest film stills he manipulated with a photocopier for the original edition of the book.