Its difficult to know where to begin with so vast a study, so it might be useful to begin by comparing it to a similar study – specifically Colin MacCabe’s equally fantastic Godard: Portrait of the Artist at Seventy. In some ways, the comparison is inept; MacCabe’s work is a “portrait” and provides details about Godard’s background, including his affluent Swiss Protestant childhood, his stormy if bookish adolescence, his weird kleptomania, his utterly appalling treatment of Anna Karina. As the title of Brody’s book suggests, this pre-working life detail is not within his remit, and so, referring interested readers to MacCabe’s work, Brody begins his analysis more or less with the publication of “For a Political Cinema.”
The major difference between the two Godard biographies resides in their representation of the constellation of Culture, Cinema, Politics, History and France in Godard. As this is not meant to be a doctoral thesis, I’m not going to go into extended detail here, but the impression is that MacCabe is far more sympathetic to the Maoist phase of Godard’s career than is Brody; certainly, Brody consistently de-emphasizes the centrality of Brecht to Godard’s films, often to the point of failing to register it at all.
So MacCabe’s “Godard” is a Bazinian-turned-Brechtian whose career trajectory moves from the representation of politics in cinema to the politics of cinematic representation. (This is, admittedly, a gross over-simplification.) What are the outlines of Brody’s “Godard”? The term that Brody will use several times throughout his study is “cultural revolutionary” which is useful if perhaps one with too much potential baggage. So what uses does Brody put this term to? In his preface, he paints a broad outline whose detail he will fill in later: the central premise to Godard in particular and the New Wave in general is, as the title suggests, “Everything is Cinema.” For Godard, this was as much a credo as it was an injunction; cinema not only could incorporate everything from the personal life of its creator(s) to the political, social, cultural and philosophical contexts of a particular film’s creation, but cinema had a duty to do so. As a result:
But to return to Brody’s narrative outline:
More coming soon!!
Anyone who lived in Ontario, Canada during the Mike Harris 1990s cringes at the memory of his “Conservative Revolution” which was basically part of the first wave of Market Stalinism in Canada after Ralph Klein’s intermittently sober regime in Alberta. A curse on both of them!
A book which manages to be as nauseating as its title suggests, which is quite a feat, really. And indeed, Levy was interviewed a few times for this book. To be fair, Godard seems to have liked Levy for God(ard) knows what reasons.