The ghost of Jean-Luc Godard on the Cannes Film Festival 2023

In the Cannes Classics section, a tribute to the great director who died in September 2022 has been scheduled. It includes the restoration of Contempt, a documentary entitled Godard par Godard, and the posthumous short Film annonce du film qui n’existera jamais: «Drôles de Guerres ». Federico Gironi saw the doc and the short for us.

Sure, wherever you turn to Cannes you come across the beautiful photo of Catherine Deneuve chosen as the official image of the 76th edition of the Festival. But to really hang over the festival with its long shadow, this year as so many times in the past, is another great one. The ghost of another great one. Of another unattainable, even more unattainable than the divine Deneuve. Jean-Luc Godard’s sneaky shadow.
Godard who was not just a director, but a myth, a legend. Even in life. Legend fueled by Godard himself with his cinema, of course, but also with his interviews, his controversies, his disappearances.

Like it or not – and it is frankly impossible that in the very long filmography of Godard isn’t it at least something you like – Jean-Luc Godard deserved that myth. Because Godard was a genius.
A genius who maybe slammed his genius, his intelligence and his extraordinary creativity in the face of the spectator, or the interlocutor, in ways that can today (but also then) be considered questionable; but, nonetheless, a genius.
Dice Francois TruffautIn the documentario Godard par Godard which was part of the tribute to the director organized within the section Cannes ClassicsThat Until the last breath was with Fourth power the best debut in the history of cinema as a whole. I, to say, think that Until the last breath is better, and more influential, and more radical in the step forward made to cinema as an art and as a language, even than the film by Welles.

Ecco: you may not like Godard, but you can’t not like Breathless.
One cannot fail to like those first films that precede the first of the many transformations that Godard’s cinema has undergone over the years, the political one, which also in the documentary seen here in Cannes – in what has been repeatedly underlined to have been the favorite of GodardDebussy – is made to coincide with the making of The Chinese. In short, the political turning point. That written by Frédéric Bonnaud, director of the Cinematheque Francaisee directed by Florence PlataretsAnd a very simple and direct documentary, very little Godardian if you like, which reconstructs the extraordinary career of this author through the editing of archive images only – films, backstage, interviews: after the political turning point, the experimental path and his self-exile, the return to a more understandable cinema and the public scene, the return to Cannes, the pie in the face, the Golden Lion – the first prize arrived incredibly late, and thanks to my friend bernardo bertolucci – per Name Carmenand then everything else.
Including, of course, the ever-increasing obsession with the sense of the image, with the limit of language (also cinematographic), and with the strategies for overcoming and deepening.
Simple and direct, Godard par Godard, but far from negligible, indeed I would say very important, especially for the ability he has to make – silently, discreetly – a portrait that is not only of Godard the director, but also of Godard the man.
A highly intelligent, contemptuous, edgy, provocative man who rejected all hypocrisy of human interactions to the point of bordering on arrogance and rudeness. But also a man who, as he got older, showed – before his definitive retirement from the public scene – signs of very slight softening.

As part of the tribute to Godard, which also included a screening of the Contempt in restored version, after the documentary Godard on Godard the expected was also screened Film announcement of the film that will never exist: “Funny Wars”the director’s so-called “posthumous short”.
Here, these twenty minutes, twenty minutes of fixed signs (with only one short filmed interlude), collages made on A5 cards by Godard himself with texts and photos, presented with background audio, which are hypothetically the draft of what could have become a film, I would not have shown.
Not because they don’t contain very interesting stuff, but because they clearly a work in progress that, seeing him like this, now, lacks that final fine-tuning that only he, JLGhe could have guaranteed.

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