THE MAGE OF LAKE GENEVA
When Jean-Luc Godard received a copy of Colin McCabe’s Godard: A Portrait of the Artist at Seventy in 2003, he ripped entire pages out of it. After consulting Richard Brody’s Everything is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard, published in 2008, the director sent the book back to its author with a cross drawn on the cover, adapting a phrase from Victor Hugo: ‘As long as there will be scrawlers to scrawl there will be murderers to kill’. Even without these precedents, the task of any Godard biographer is intimidating enough: his vast and varied oeuvre of more than 140 films spans over half a century, and has involved a number of unexpected turns. Godard has several times abandoned one way of working to start from scratch in another, switching narrative forms and picking up new technologies in order to experiment with weaving together image, sound and text on the screen, in an attempt to get the measure of the world in which we live. His career has also developed paradoxically: while critics wanting to canonize him have multiplied, the audience for his films has progressively decreased; responses to every new film veer between admiration and frustration, enthusiasm and incomprehension.
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