How to Watch A Jean-Luc Godard Film in 2018

How to Watch A Jean-Luc Godard Film in 2018

By André Shannon


“Oh mon Dieu, qu’est ce que je fais?” you exclaim in a spontaneous burst of perfect French, as your mouse hovers over the “purchase” button on the MIFF website. You want to be buy a ticket to The Image Book by Jean-Luc Godard, but you’re suddenly worried. “What if I can’t handle it?” enters your mind. Friend, that’s why I’m here. I’ve seen a cut of JLG’s oeuvre and am here to be your 21st century French art film spirit guide.


Here is my exclusive “HOW TO WATCH A JEAN-LUC GODARD FILM IN 2018”


Step 1: Have a long and well-deserved rest prior to the screening. You don’t want to miss a second of this urgent video essay as full energy levels are required. This isn’t a Scorsese flick starring Leo that you can fall asleep in; you need to be alert for this.


Step 2: After the rest enjoy a well-deserved French treat, like a bowl of Choco bitz cereal and read Le Monde (for added flair).

Step 3: Familiarise yourself with French filmmaker Laure Prouvost’s work; she’s primarily a sculptor but makes astonishing experimental film that blends factual fantasia and video essay aesthetics. She’s also French so it’ll get you in the mood for what’s to come.

Step 4: Ponder how much French people smoke, and realise you aren’t holding a reel of 16 mm film in your hands and won’t be able to re-create that iconic JLG image.

Step 5: Remind yourself of that not all directors are perfect, even Jean-Luc Godard, as is demonstrated in the final scene of Agnès Varda’s Faces, Places.

Step 6: Pull out the “Same, Same But Different” shirt you ironically bought in Bangkok, and wear it. The Image Book may or may not be another case of schema plus variation, but either way you want to communicate to the rest of the audience that you’re aware of the lineage of cinema.

Step 7: Enjoy the film, or DON’T. Godard isn’t trying to make a crowd pleaser. His film is best appreciated with the anticipation of bewilderment, or extraordinary confusion. It’s one of the most staggering films of the moment, and no matter your reading of the film The Image Book is still extraordinary.


What about post screening? Let me provide a special detox remedy for after the screening. Your head will be buzzing with exciting questions, so the only thing you need to do is have the conversations! Talk to people, spread the word! And if you’re feeling the high of the film, merely turn to Adam Curtis’s filmography for equally satisfying insights into cinema. But mostly, see more films at MIFF.  

André Shannon is a MIFF 2018 Critics Campus participant and host of Movies Movies Movies on Sydney’s FBi Radio.

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