The Ultimate Journey: Remarks on Contemporary Theory

Ultimatum: An Introduction to the Work of Nicole Brenez

Adrian Martin

In 1955, Jacques Rivette wrote: “It seems to me impossible to see Voyage to Italy [Roberto Rossellini, 1953] without receiving direct evidence of the fact that the film opens a breach, and that all cinema, on pain of death, must pass through it”. [1] The history of high level, theoretically-informed film criticism (and perhaps especially French criticism) contains many such ultimata: moments when a writer feels compelled, on the evidence of an unexpected experience at the movies, to declare a decisive sea-change in cinema, an outbreak of modernity, a new ‘crest line’ of radical achievement, an emergent kind of purity that instantly surpasses everything hitherto seen.

Nicole Brenez (born 1961) has written on many kinds of films and filmmakers – from Buster Keaton and horror cinema to “Godard and byzantine philosophies of the image” [2] – but there is something of the urgency of an ‘ultimatum’ animating her work, also. She is not, in a strict sense, a film theorist – she attends to theory in the following essay “in so far as it informs experience, as it matters to me and as I have need of it” – but then, who is a strict film theorist in these post-Metz years? Like many of the colleagues whose work informs Brenez’s – such as Raymond Bellour, Alain Bergala and Charles Tesson – theoretical reflections arise from the work and pleasure of viewing, analysis, comparison, writing: the decisive moments when the cinema itself leads theory, and gives rise though its inventions, innovations and surprises to new thoughts. It is one history of such moments, beginning at the start of the 1980s, which Brenez sketches in “The Ultimate Journey”. Moments that include not only new work (such as the telecast of Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma series, beginning in 1989) but the forcible rediscovery of old work: Tod Browning’s Freaks (1932), the weird oeuvre of Sacha Guitry, or – as ever – Rossellini. [3]

In Brenez’s account, 1980 loosely marks the beginning of a new period in this practical activity of French film theorising. She by no means dismisses or discounts the importance of the structuralist and post-structuralist periods of the 1960s and 1970s that are marked by Christian Metz and his contemporaries – part of her own academic training was in the literary post-structuralist school. But, in a sense, Brenez’s story begins at the point where post-structuralism, having allowed an important way of thinking about cinema to emerge, also reached its limit, even its impasse. The entire semiotic enterprise (across all fields) allowed us to think the autonomy of signifying, textual systems. It allowed us (as Brenez might put it) to grasp the radical degree of the break between aesthetic, formal works and the ‘real’ to which they refer.

For Brenez, the act of understanding and internalising this ‘epistemological rupture’ – being able (in a sense) to take it for granted – has enabled a generation of film scholars to embark on a full-scale theory of ‘figuration’. In a figural model (Brenez’s doctoral thesis was devoted to the ‘figural problems’ posed by another breach-like work in cinema history – Godard’s Le mépris, 1963), the cinema leaves behind its last vestiges of mimesis, copying, or resemblance to the real: the cinema traces, figures, weaves ex nihilo its fully imaginary, endlessly renewed repertoire of spaces, places, movements, gestures, worlds and bodies. [4] This ‘going all the way’ with figuration is the impulse that Brenez sees inaugurated in the writing of Jean-Louis Schefer – because he “completely reconsidered the question of analogy” in cinema. Zeroing in on the constitutive, fundamental oddness, even monstrosity, of cinematic bodies – these bodies superhumanly large and strong or pitifully tiny and abject in relation to our own, this panorama of truncated limbs, wheezing apparatuses and twitching muscles in search of a coherent expression or identity – Schefer’s powerfully eccentric meditation corrodes all of our common-sense, facile assumptions about analogical resemblance in film. And thus a ‘breach’ is opened in our practical theory of cinema.

Exploring this breach, Brenez’s ongoing examination of filmic figuration – whose action she has traced in auteurs as diverse as Abel Ferrara, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Philippe Garrel and John Cassavetes – is uncommonly dynamic (as well as systematic – the notion of a film-text as an ensemble, a multi-layered whole, is crucial in “The Ultimate Journey”). She stresses qualities of energy and plasticity, and finds everywhere dramatic points of transference, reversal, renewal or ruination. And her analytic imagination is clearly excited by films that, on some level of their form-content matrix, enact or trigger some auto-reflection on the problems of figuration: films about performance (acting or musical performance, from Shadows [Cassavetes, 1959], The Killing of a Chinese Bookie [Cassavetes, 1976] and Opening Night [Cassavetes, 1977] to Reservoir Dogs [Quentin Tarantino, 1992], Snake Eyes [Brian De Palma, 1993] and Les baisers de secours [Garrel, 1989]); about birth and death or creation and destruction; or – at a more buried, abstract but no less powerful level – about the philosophical and anthropological problems of ‘classification’ or categorisation, that is, how films navigate the treacherous ground of deciding or demarcating what is ‘human’ from what is variously animal, alien, monstrous or non-human (a fertile drama she has traced in films from King of New York [Abel Ferrara, 1990] to India: Matri Bhumi [Rossellini, 1958] via the bodily transformations of Lon Chaney). This is slippery figural territory, indeed, and its inherent confusion and dynamism gives a vivid life to the highest works of avant garde cinema and the lowliest, trashiest works of popular, pulp cinema alike.

And yet, the inter-linked, ongoing projects of film theory and critical analysis cannot merely stop at the acknowledgment of the ‘figural revolution’ and the imaginative freedom it brings. The post-structuralist researches of the 1970s eventually allowed such an insight, but they could not further it. I am reminded of a review in Cahiers du Cinéma by Pascal Kané in 1973. Having scanned the tightly coherent and intricate textual systems of Billy Wilder’s Avanti! (1972), Kané tried turning his attention to ‘the real’, seemingly so far in the distance, and grimly mused,”perhaps we should stop considering the referent as simply a grain of sand” in the textual mechanism. [5]   And this is the second movement, the next and greater challenge, that Brenez traces in the writing and teaching of the 1980s after the upset caused by Schefer: how to reconnect figural texts with the tides, factors and calamities of real history? Once we have demolished all those simplistic notions of analogy and resemblance, of film as mere mirror or reflection, where and how do we situate the mutual action of film-forms and historical forces?

We should not overlook the importance of the fact that, for all its dazzling, figural brilliance, Brenez’s work is also anchored in a profound interest in anthropology and ethnography, in the being and presence of the human body, in everyday movements and gestures and their radical transformation or re-invention within a work of art. Like Serge Daney or many of her contemporaries the world over, she is committed to defining “a type of Bazinian exigency maintained in the heart of a type of non-Bazinian analysis that no longer takes the real as second nature or as the second nature of film”. [6]  In her introduction to the script of Cassavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence (1974), for instance, she begins with a reflection on “the plasticity of creatures” as mobilised by “the figurative powers of the cinematograph”: “Certain very simple acts … remain absolutely incomprehensible”. But, at the same time, “inversely, certain very difficult and delicate phenomena, or those among the most ancient in the history of representations, are made the object of a resolutely clear treatment”. [7]

This passage hints at something of the ethical drive behind Brenez’s investigations into the inscrutable mysteries of identity, history and politics as both complicated and illuminated by the work of film. From the semiotic era, Brenez takes on the irreducible heterogeneity of the film-text, with all its gaps and multiplicities, bits and pieces, levels and interferences, monstrosities and phantasms; but in an age where we look for some clarity, some faith, some dearly-won, fragile article of civilisation, she also looks for a fragment of common ground. “The subject of the cinema”, she writes near the end of “The Ultimate Journey”, “prefers to verify that something else is still possible (a body, a friend, a world)”. Which is its own kind of ultimatum for today, but a gentle one. Godard’s words from the 1980s still hold good, and maybe even true: “There is the goodwill for a meeting: that’s the cinema”. [8]

[1] “Letter on Rossellini”, trans. Tom Milne, in Jonathan Rosenbaum (ed.), Rivette: Texts and Interviews (London: British Film Institute, 1977), p. 54.
[2] “Le film ‘abyme'”, in Jean-Luc Godard au-delà de l’image, Études Cinématographiques, no. 194/202 (1993).
[3] Brenez has written on “Le project télévisuel de Roberto Rossellini”, CinémAction, no. 57 (October 1990); “Une économie du geste. Sur les Fioretti de Roberto Rossellini”, Cahiers philosophiques, no. 62, CNDP (March 1995); and most recently on India (“Déclasser [hommes, femmes, animaux: les espèces dans India”], [Brussels: De Boeck Université, 1998]).
[4] It is worth pointing out that Brenez’s figurative model is – at least in the first instance – a formal and aesthetic one. Thus, it bears little similarity to the understanding of figurality proposed in English-language film theory by D. N. Rodowick in a series of essays, such as “Reading the Figural”, Camera Obscura, no. 24, (September 1990): pp. 10-45. Brenez owes more to Jean-François Lyotard’s work on the plastic arts (for example in Discours, figure, [Paris: Klincksieck, 1971], or in English, the collection Driftworks, [New York: Semiotext(e), 1984]) than to the more situationally and socially centered model that Rodowick derives from Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze.
[5] Pascal Kané, “Sur Avanti”, Cahiers du Cinéma, no. 248 (September 1973), p. 48.
[6] See the round-table discussion, “Movie Mutations”, featuring Brenez, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Kent Jones, Alex Horwath, Raymond Bellour and myself in Trafic, no. 24, (December 1997).
[7] “Die for Mr Jensen”, L’Avant-scène Cinéma, no. 411, (April 1992): pp. 1-4. My translation.
[8] Quoted by Berenice Reynaud, Afterimage [USA] (January 1986).

The Ultimate Journey: Remarks on Contemporary Theory

Nicole Brenez

Editors’ Note: This article originally appeared in French in Art press: un second siècle pour le cinéma, hors-série 14 (1993): pp. 65-72. In every translation there are bound to be a certain number of errors. The editors of Screening the Past would like to make use of the capabilities of the internet to improve this one. We invite our readers to help correct the errors here by sending us email with their suggestions for improvements. From time to time, as we receive corrections, we will update what appears below. We have kept the referencing system in the original article for this translation. Notes by the translator appear in square brackets throughout what follows. [1]

This article attempts to describe what I know of contemporary French theory, in so far as it informs experience, as it matters to me and as I have need of it. There are bound to be some errors and omissions but to start with I will not omit the respectful silence that welcomed two publications by Christian Metz: L’Énonciation impersonnelle, ou le site du film (Paris: Meridiens Klincksieck, 1991) and the Christian Bourgeois reissue of Psychoanalysis and Cinema – the text that made possible a number of reflections on what was in question during the eighties: the body, emotion, the figurative (in the rhetorical sense) economy of fiction. Question number one: what is it, today, that makes these texts, not in the least unreadable, but on the contrary so definitively beyond question that they are unread and unused? [2]

The experience of theory does not take place just through books, a lot is transmitted orally, particularly in the field of cinema. Often films have to be introduced and film theory is manifested more euphorically in that always friendly and always problematic event in which a word suddenly changes what you see. These discourses are not always reproduced, but perhaps they are more alive than they would be in the state of published texts. A book would have remembered for me, but then I would have been able to forget. Here are some instances of things that struck me deeply because I heard them: what Jacques Aumont, talking about Puissance de la parole [Jean-Luc Godard, 1988], called the principle of symphonic editing (this was in 1989); Raymond Bellour’s analysis of emotion as the genesis and setting into the world of the effective body (1992); Bernard Eisenschitz’s portrait of Nicholas Ray as an experimental cinéaste in Hollywood (1990); or again, Sergio Toffetti’s historical comparison of the double birth in 1896 of cinema and football in Turin and the mutual indifference of the two great popular spectacles of this century (1993). These theoretical discoveries remain to this day speech events. The desire comes to me all the more strongly to take note of this kind of thing as something proper to the analysis of cinema, which Serge Daney’s posthumous book, L’exercice aura été profitable Monsieur (Paris: POL, 1993), an interior monologue where writing, speech and conversation, an intimate diary and a sketchy article are mixed together, accomplished with staggering facility. On the other hand, now that I have done a little editing myself, I have come to understand better what a book is and, for example, why the ‘politique des auteurs’ would be a more effective trap in the field of writing than in that of the cinema. There was, for a time in the early eighties, one exceptional locus of theorisation, a collection of books in which each volume was equally important both for its conceptual invention and as a model of methodological freedom. Camera lucida by Roland Barthes (198O), L’homme ordinaire du cinéma by Jean Louis Schefer (1980), Souvenirs écran by Claude Ollier (1981), Nosferatu by Michel Bouvier and Jean-Louis Leutrat (1981), Pour un observateur lointain by Noel Burch (To the Distant Observer, French translation, 1982), Le champ aveugle by Pascal Bonitzer (1982), La rampe by Serge Daney (1983)…; this was Jean Narboni’s “collection grise” for Cahiers du Cinéma, Gallimard, composed of texts which all irrigated the theoretical monument of this decade, Gilles Deleuze’s Cinéma 1 and 2 (Minuit, 1983 and 1985) and which above all demonstrated that the theory (of cinema) never manifests itself better than as a movement, capable of carrying in a dynamic ensemble [dynamique d’ensemble] thoughts that would otherwise be absolutely singular and irreducible to each other. Question number two: what runs through all those books, compelling us to read them, to get to grips with them over and over, to reflect on them together [ensemble]? Another editorial determinant: certain ideas, certain formulations of the ancients (in the time-scale of the cinema) are only making their appearance today and, having remained secret until now, they appear very new both because they were unremarked and because now they appear weighted already with history: the clear history of political censorship, the mysterious history of the judgements of taste. In this light, I know nothing more timely and dazzling – in a word, more enabling – than two collections [ensembles] of reflections dating from early in the century. The first of these are the remarks on cinema by [Vsevolod] Meyerhold, who observed, with enthusiasm and melancholy, the cinema’s accession to power in the actor’s craft. Meyerhold, [Sergei] Eisenstein’s teacher, played a unique role in the weaving together of those historical and aesthetic lines that connect theatre and cinema. His work produced major texts on acting and the stylisation of gesture, eminently cinematographic material that has largely remained unthought. A figural thinking [une pensée du figural] is deployed in Meyerhold’s work which deals with the actor’s performance in the unprecedented terms of cuts, a thinking which is the result of a long period of work bearing simultaneously on the body and on the look. Meyerhold went behind the scenes of a ballet by [Michel] Fokine in order to study the costume of a Caucasian montagnard at close range, and this became the occasion for this incisive spectator to demonstrate that the body does not fit the shape of the silhouette: “there was too much thick linen, padding, and the devil knows what getting in the way so that during the show I had not the slightest view of all the lines of the body [je n’en avais pas moins vu toutes les lignes du corps]”. [3] But I also like the infinite movement of invention in his work, that élan that embraces everything and stops at nothing. I read him, wrongly perhaps, as the Godard of theatre history. How could I do otherwise in the face of a remark like this: “When I staged La dame aux camélias, I was hoping that some pilot might pilot his machine better because he had seen my show”. [4]  In the same way that Meyerhold found he needed a forgotten article by [Gotthold Ephraim] Lessing on the structure of the epigram [5] in order to understand Modern Times [Charles Chaplin, 1936], so we can have recourse to Meyerhold’s work in order to envisage something of that which, in an actor’s performance, partakes of experimentation, of vitamins, as he himself said about popular song.

And then there is Vachel Lindsay. “Excuse me, I am late. I have just finished my book for the blind – The Art of the Moving Picture“. An American poet whose work generously spills over into the field of cinema, Vachel Lindsay inaugurated no less than two traditions in the United States: that of the great film critics: Balázs, Delluc, Kracauer . . . up to Serge Daney, the spinneret of the thinkers of the immediate (Lindsay was a journalist with The New Republic); and that of theoreticians in the traditional sense of the term. Lindsay was able to elaborate an aesthetic system for the cinema at the same time that, as an enthusiastic spectator, he was in the process of discovering the cinema himself. The Art of the Moving Picture (1915) [6] constructs a vast comparative system – how the cinema appropriates the other arts – having as its outcome the production of a certain number of analytic categories feeding into a principal thesis: the cinema invents new modalities of the visible. (Whence the joyous and ironic remark that I cited above). The cinema reformulates the world by means of light and rhythmic effects. This theory thinks of films in terms of splendour and speed. “The key-words of the stage are passion and character; of the photoplay, splendor and speed”. [7] What is it that is radically alive in Lindsay’s reflections, that transforms these forgotten pages, so beautiful and so witty, yet active in the history of the cinema (Griffith distributed The Art of the Moving Picture to his actors), into texts that are at last publishable and readable in French, into indispensable texts? And another question to put the response to that one in perspective: how are we to talk about the overthrow of theory when Lindsay made the first analysis of the cinema? In fact, the history of theories of cinema demands to be rethought in the light of Vachel Lindsay, in the light of what he called his proposition: “My overall proposition is that the United States is a great movie”. [8]  We should attempt to attend fully to such a statement, and this is not the place for that. But I can sketch out such a thing here: if Lindsay has thrown out a thread that has been broken which might tie up contemporary theories again, it is because he thought of the cinema not as a simple reflection, the redoubling of something that already existed, but as the emergence of a visionary critical activity. The cinema is for him that art which renders images first of all capable of detecting the structure of the present. Seeing Douglas Fairbanks in The Thief of Bagdad  [Raoul Walsh, 1924] “the American idea” can be understood, which is “to destroy in the fraction of a second the repose one finds between two heartbeats”. But images can also anticipate phenomena to come, which figurative analysis brings into the immediate present. For example, on the subject of the representation of the crowd in films, in remarks that form a diptych with those written ten years later by Soviet cineastes or Walter Benjamin, Lindsay prophesied, “as we peer into the Mirror Screen some of us dare to look forward to the time when the pouring streets of men will become sacred in each other’s eyes, in pictures and in fact”. [9]  In this way the cinema is much more than an heuristically high-powered technology: it is a mode of thought, thought based on visual (splendour) and temporal (speed) properties, which produces humanity. (A contrario, Lindsay wrote, “this book is intended to fight against the non-humanity produced by undisciplined photography”). And it is this fundamentally moral idea of a cinema with the power of political perspective and figural responsibility which brings Lindsay into today’s reflections on the cinema by Deleuze, Daney, Schefer, [Jean-Marie] Straub or Godard. Theoreticians, like cineastes, base a part of their meditation (written or filmed) on two common premises which Lindsay argued at the edge of cinema theory: the idea that film, because it does not imitate a referent but allows it to come forth from the real, can eventually provide the world; and the corollary that an image is not a plastic phantom but a dynamic principle endowed with powers that demand to be deployed and reflected. From that spring the three axes of theorisation which seem to me to have been of major significance through this decade: work on the powers of the image, on the figurability of the subject, and on the thinkable relations between the cinematograph and history.

In the beginning was Jean Louis Schefer, because he completely reconsidered the question of analogy in cinema. In 1980 Schefer published three texts devoted wholly or in part to the cinema: L’homme ordinaire du cinéma (op. cit.), “L’image, la mort, la mémoire” (with Raoul Ruiz, Ça Cinéma, Albatros) and La lumière et la proie, anatomies d’une figure religieuse – Le Corrège 1526 (Albatros). [10]  To which one ought to add the four articles appearing in the out-of-series issue of Cahiers du cinéma entitled Monstresses, edited by Pascal Bonitzer [1980]. To describe what he was talking about, Schefer invented a new syntax which works in such a way that, just when you believe you are able to reasonably get hold of a firm thesis, suddenly the idea slips away by means of a false grammatical relation and the movement throws you back at the text like a spinning top. This stylisation of the ungraspable draws you along as part of the very proof of that which the theoretical elaboration is constructing: the description of the unknown relations that the cinema installs between the subject and its experience (of the world, of others, of the image). The cinema, according to Schefer, comes to pass as a whole [ensemble] (unsystematic in appearance only). Proofs of its strangeness: it comes simultaneously as “the effect of the alterity of the world” [11]  and as the fecundity of the unknown in the very heart of intimacy. But this intimacy becomes the most precarious of places, it is no more than a decoy of interiority that the cinema transforms into a precipitate of anxiety by means of addressing itself to the spectator’s “yet more unknown” impulsive body (this man called ordinary that Schefer describes now as a vampire, now like a guardian angel, [12] about whom he solicits above all, aphasia and fear). “I wanted to explain how the cinema stays within us as a final chamber where both the hope and the illusion of an interior history are caught”. [13]  For Jean Louis Schefer the cinema is neither a world nor a way of knowing and still less a corpus of films, but a phenomenon: the problematic work of disproportion. For example, it is the disproportion of the visible that withdraws my body from myself and metamorphoses it into “experimental consciousness”. It is the disproportion of sense [sens] that introduces a fable of death into the picture, unsticks it from its stage to project it in time and obliteration (see the section entitled “film” in “Light and its prey”. [14] It is the final improportion that will not synthesise all the “ends of humanity” presented by the screen into some ultimate lesson about the stranger. It is time, the monster. It is in this sense that one should understand the assertion that analogy is “evidently” a (logical, optical) aberration. [15] Nothing exists in the future or the present of the cinema to which it would be analogous. There is only a protracted problem of resemblance (which is doubtless Schefer’s real subject), that is to say, that which, despite everything else, links all the terms of the disproportion. Pure proof of diversity, the cinema has affected us like “a fold along which all the variation enters us (including what has not been done) in the spectacle of others, enlarged people and things, incomprehensibly cut apart and joined together” [16] and having done this, it propels us into that dizziness which Schefer often calls “the new” and even, in a quite Rimbaudian fashion, “the renewed world of affects”. [17] It is obvious that in this examination of the aporiae of the visible which is also an affective ethnology of itself there is no longer a place for a terrestrial referent of any sort. (However, this is really a question of a resolutely historical description, as will be seen a little later on). The cinema leaves the referent, and analogy gets to work on the terrain of resemblance, elaborates the presumptions of the subject. After Schefer’s formulations, a dividing line arises more clearly between modern theorisations whichever side of the argument (in the literary sense of the term) they are on – including Vachel Lindsay (the theoretical movement taking up in its spiral again the unreadable bits that floated in previous constellations) – and classical theorisations, which postulate the existence of a world, or better, a subject, to which the cinema is referable a priori: the work of Christian Metz, notably. Having placed the world out of consideration, modern theories find their area in considering the cinema no longer as a scientific construction or as narrative, as classical readings would have it, but as a critical proposition, a hypothetical gesture, an essay. All the shots of a film do not originate in the same space or in the same time as thought. Letting a body advance in a field does not necessarily engage the advent of a presence. The interstices between shots reserve places for absent images. These are some of the consequences, among others, that provoke the rupture of the analogic pact between image and world. Whether the film enquires into something or whether it problematises its linkages with a big Other (reality, experience, death), either course has the effect of unleashing it, of throwing it into the history of humanity. At the end of Soigne ta droite [Keep up your right, Godard, 1987] we see presented in a very masterly fashion the event of the suppression of those closures (the ‘clausal’ effect of end credits) which habitually serve not so much to politely dismiss the audience as to guarantee the integrity of the film and of the place where it has been shown. As theory today reflects it, the cinema appears before everything else as the negation of what art historians would call a “symbolisation”, which designates a work of conciliation, a “conquest of the world as representation”.[18] On the contrary, the cinema has not ceased tearing itself apart, making its fractures deeper, making the powers of discontinuity and its double (repetition) deeper, working over caesurae and allowing defection to work as if it was a question, in Adorno’s words, of “capitulating before heterogeneity”. [19]

What has assisted the contemporary theorising of the cinema? The massive recuperation of certain defective images and the elaboration of economies of representation (filmic and textual) set in train by these images themselves. Which images? The ones from the concentration camps. Returning endlessly to the unsettled character of the disappearances, the theory of cinema (which is, strikingly, produced these days by isolated individuals and not by schools or laboratories as is the case in other fields) is collectively and whether it knows it or not, Blanchotian. The two major works of this period were actually structured like Maurice Blanchot’s Death Sentence (1948). On the absolute terror of the Second World War; on the blinding and absent images of the camps; on the necessity of retrieving a body all the same, on this “Rio Zero”, [20]  pivot the two theoretical agglomerations that are most important for the cinema: Gilles Deleuze’s Cinema and Jean-Luc Godard’s Cinema History(s) (1989). Both initially presented themselves in two volumes (video chapters in Godard’s case), both finished their first volumes and started their second with the same moment of the cinema and with the same cineaste: Roberto Rossellini, a tutelary figure who had intensely taken as his charge the narration of that catastrophe. During this decade many ideas of the cinema and ideas of filmic analysis were born from his proposals or were verified on the corpus of the Rossellinian project. [21]  One only has to consider the vital role that Rossellini plays throughout the last pages of Daney’s L’exercice aura été profitable, Monsieur. Of all these ideas, let’s retain this one, which traverses Deleuze and Godard: the cinema offers the possibility of a body. What does that mean?

For Deleuze it means first that the modern history of the cinema is no longer oriented solely according to movements and aesthetic schools but that across these sites there is a question of describing the invention of singular anthropologies. Deleuze’s logical and philosophic models ([Henri] Bergson, [Charles Sanders] Peirce) have already been commented on, as well as the systematic construction and the variable relations of concepts to their object from The Movement-Image to The Time-Image[22] In sum, the structure of the Deleuzian architecture has been well described. But this enterprise articulates two apparently incompatible energies: it constructs a system at the same time that it maintains always an effect of being an enquiry: it imports strong conceptual models at the same time that it seems to be taking its concepts from the films themselves. What can be found to bring these two postulates together? Doubtless it is the analytic mesh that constitutes Deleuzian developments and condenses itself by returning to and varying the same questions: how does a figure inhabit its body, how does the body concentrate itself or open itself out as a result of its gesture, how does the gesture splice or not splice space and time? Here are some of the instrumental figurative concerns that permit a distinction among regimes of liaison between phenomena: rational and organic liaisons in the movement-image, intermittent and complex liaisons in the time-image. But the Deleuzian innovation is not to be found entirely in the story of the evolution of forms by such clear and operative different routes, from action-image to crystal-image, perception-image to description, affection-image to pure optics and sound. This history of form(s) has already been sketched out elsewhere; [23] and the history of film has already thrown up several roadblocks in its path, like Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992) which, beginning as an ensemble demonstration of what the idea of performance signifies in an actor’s performance, finishes by completely confounding the narrative effect with pure optic and sound, which Deleuze had thought of as two mutually exclusive image regimes. What seems to me most precious in Cinema 1 and 2 is the idea, nourished and intensified by each analysis, that the image (its regime, the economy of its sequencing and its cutting) is charged with formulating an ontological proposition, in a mode of thought where being does not necessarily precede its figuration where, as well, being is not necessarily oriented towards figuration. This is the reason for the privileged attention accorded by Deleuze to cinemas of anthropological decentring – [Orson] Welles more than [John] Ford, [Carl Theodor] Dreyer more than [Fritz] Lang, and even [Michelangelo] Antonioni more than Rossellini, the latter putting humanity where Antonioni effaces it – those stylistics that work inside and outside the human figure, indeed against it, in the greatest suffering, on the signs of its viability or of its impossibility of being, on the signs of its disappearance and of its return. (Signs which will later be placed again in play and with such plastic grandeur in Godard’s Nouvelle vague [1990]). So that at bottom what structures Cinema, at least as much as a conceptual logic, is the desire to restore confidence in the world, to rediscover a possibility of believing in the body. Because he forgets nothing of the shocking history, nothing of the weakness nor of the fragility, because he has taken in obliquely everything which in the cinema evokes absence and disintegration, Deleuze is able to write (and of course this is about Philippe Garrel, who continues to burn the screen with black and white lights that reaffirm the figure in apparition):

We must believe in the body, but as in the germ of life, the seed which splits open the paving stones, which has been preserved and lives on in the holy shroud or the mummy’s bandages, and which bears witness to life, in this world as it is. We need an ethic or a faith, which makes fools laugh; it is not a need to believe in something else, but a need to believe in this world, of which fools are a part. [24]

Retrieving a body. This motif often recurs in Godard’s work also – for example when he declares, “If I make cinema it is already a resurrection”. [25]  How does such a phrase make sense, why isn’t it sheer insanity? To understand it, one must take account of the movement of conceptualisation that Godard has imprinted on the notion of the image, intertwined with history, rethought by him along three principle lines, three conditions of the theoretical possibility of establishing a history of cinema. First, the cinema enters into a particular rapport with history: it proves that people have a memory, a predictive memory to boot (“the cinema being the souvenir or the presentment of a history” [26]  it interrogates the idea of having a history, reattributing an experimental character to the very notion of history – here Godard invents a concept of his own: that of History By Itself [Histoire seule]: “This kind of history unreels by itself, like the history of the stars. History is independent, in a certain way, of characters. Novelists know this perfectly well: this history is by itself”. This means also that it unreels between, between people, between temporalities, between images, in that interval which exceeds the human and which only the work of montage is able to put into question. Second, three particular relations between the cinema and its own history exist. It is the only art which is able to conceive of its history in its (own) distinctive material, with images and sounds (on account of which this history is called “true”). Its history is that of a double betrayal: betrayal by industry, which has reduced the continent of cinema to a single fiction by itself, and betrayal by the public, which is uninterested in documentary because it detests its work. It is necessary thus to recount a potential history for the cinema, to restore to the cinema the history of its potentialities. “The cinema ought to be spoken of as something that has existed, which was able to exist otherwise and which is a trace of what people have between themselves and which they call history”. This is why the  History(s) of Cinema insist on unfinished films or films which were not able to be realised: Max Ophuls’ L’École des femmes, Welles’ Don Quixote – and that the cinema responds better to this concept when it accomplishes itself as virtual, as the very idea of the possible, that is to say, when it anticipates effective history – but it always anticipates it. “The cinema does not show, it previsions … when it is artisanal, it is ten or twenty years in advance, when it is factory-made, it is two or three years”. Now, from this predictive capacity is born precisely the ultimate scandal which always wedges the cinema off from its own history, that in some way tears it away from itself and hollows it out, not in an external but in an internal way, creating that depression around which the History(s) will turn. “From Vienna to Madrid, from [Robert] Siodmak to [Frank] Capra, from Paris to Los Angeles and Moscow, from [Jean] Renoir to [André] Malraux and [Alexander] Dovzhenko, the great directors of fiction have been incapable of controlling the vengeance that they have staged so often”. (This citation and the following are extracts from Toutes les histoires). Renoir, Malraux, had previsioned the war and described Guernica; George Stevens’ colour film had recorded the discovery of the camps. But the cinema had been able to do nothing to forestall [prévenir] the catastrophe. The most exact premonitions, like that of the little rabbit killed in La règle du jeu, had not sufficed as a warning: the cinema found its terrible limit. So the work of the possible is here confounded with historical powerlessness, and barren anxiety transforms itself into culpability. “1941, 1942, 1943, 1944. Nearly five years during which the people of the darkened rooms burned up the imaginary so that they might heat up the real again. Now the latter takes vengeance and wants real tears and real blood”. Third, a particular rapport exists between the history of the cinema and one who relates that history: history being “a general model of feeling”, the narrator recounts it as if he had lived it, in the form of a personal novel where chronology does not intervene except as a reference point (“like a railway signal”). In this enterprise of identification between history and its narrator, history being that of all the virtualities and the narrator the one who evokes them and reconstitutes them with choleric melancholy, the subject opens itself indefinitely and becomes, literally, the possible subject [ le sujet du possible].

These principles inscribe themselves in the stylistic structure of the History(s) of Cinema, in the integral comparativism [comparatisme[27]  of that style which slows down images and speeds up montage. Short alternating superimpositions become Godard’s principle videographic figure, this living beat that makes the images palpitate, suppresses the very principle of the shot as a unity and makes it so that an image is first an ensemble being [être-ensemble], the overlapping of two motifs, of two procedures, of the image achieved with that which remains to be achieved, the triumphant image and the scratched photogramme. An image, according to the History(s) of çinema, presents itself at once as a temporal atom that must be split by sheer force of slowing it or by conflicting it; an ensemble being which has always already a rapport with its other, with what is editable [montable] – and a proposition, a hypothesis, an opening to sense which is able to authenticate itself by this warrant as unacceptable or as inaudible, the way all thought is. (In the History(s) moreover, however familiar an image is, it can become unwatchable by being shown with too much compassion – little Edmund’s leap, for example. Or with too much pain – Elizabeth Taylor’s happiness in A Place in the Sun [George Stevens, 1951].) This force of opening, the product of a systematic investigation into the powers of what is editable, carries the image to its conceptual plenitude: it becomes that which constitutes the projected subject [le sujet en projet], it moves the human over to the side of the figurable, “because it brings it back to the earth”. The image is what puts the possible back into the world. “It is a property of images to come from elsewhere, and that elsewhere is here, and in no way elsewhere”. [28]  In a very fine text entitled “L’accident”, which perhaps could not have been written before the History(s) of cinema – whether its author had seen them or not – Jean Louis Schefer revealed the setting of his first time at the movies:

I recall simply the hall lit before the projection and a little girl two rows in front of us talking to her father, “Papa, you haven’t told me about [bien raconté] ‘Buchenwald'”. Attentive, with a soft voice like a professor, “You must say (pronounced in German) ‘Bukenvald’, it means ‘beech forest'”. A kind of overwhelmed silence fell over the hall. The light went out and the film began: Neapolitan children making a living shining shoes. [29]

Surely after this the cinema could no longer be anything other than the mutual anamorphosis of two incommensurable sorrows. Deleuze, Godard, Schefer, the Straubs when they dedicated Antigone (1992) to the Iraqi dead whom the audiovisual media had denied, theorised the history of cinema in a genuinely scientific fashion, like [Urban] Le Verrier discovering Neptune as a consequence of the unexplained perturbations of Uranus: the history of cinema is made as a consequence of difficult images and damned images, those one does not know how to make, those one has not wanted to see, troubling images that perturb and darken. [30]  (One film tests this to the limit by organising an eclipse of images: this is Jean Eustache’s last film, which dates from 1980 – Les photos d’Alix.)

Modern theories of cinema in fact unceasingly return to “the simplest question: the body, how do you find it?” [31]  The great analyses of the last years have looked into the ways in which film presupposes, elaborates, gives or abstracts a body, not hesitating to pose again such primitive questions as what texture is it (flesh, marble, plaster, affect, doxa)? What is its framework (skeleton, semblance, becoming, a structure of formlessness [plastiques de l’informe])? What destroys it (the other, history, deforming its contours)? What kind of community does its gestures allow it to envision (people, collectivity [collection], alignment with the same)? To what regime of the visible has it submitted (apparition, extinction, haunting)? What is its story really (an adventure, a description, a panoply)? What creature is it at bottom (an organism, an effigy, a cadaver)? [32] ( In sum, they have explored the ways in which a film invents a figurative logic. Thus Alain Bergala’s work on Voyage to Italy [1954] or on Antonioni’s first features [33]  shows how the real suddenly seizes the film, blindsides it [le sidère] in spite of what the human figures [les figures] expect and lead us to expect, according to logics of irruption (Rossellini) or of effacement (Antonioni) which extract the characters from the narrative and transform them into subjects of history (of the human community in Rossellini; of the war in Antonioni). Charles Tesson’s articles, in the very dispersion of their objects and their methods (aesthetic, historic, economic) everywhere mark the problems of the constitution of filmic bodies, beginning with that of their mythic origins. For example, in “La momie sans complexe” and “Profils de monstres” [34] , Tesson analyses scenarios of the body in fantasy cinema and retraces the figurative economies that presided over their beginnings: the logic of the assemblage in Joe Dante or the logic of resemblances in Jacques Tourneur. Or, again, to take a very different cinematography, analysing body-speech [le corps-parole] in Sacha Guitry [35] , Tesson reuses a schema of Lessing’s in designating Guitry’s thoracic cavity as the centre of gravity around which his films turn. Which is to say that figurative analysis seizes upon problems in advance of their social admissibility and notably in advance of normal film usage as genre or within established aesthetic divisions. Perhaps because of his pulmonary madness, Guitry is more monstrous than the hero of Videodrome [David Cronenberg, 1983] with his VCR-abdomen. Perhaps his theatrical realism is more profoundly fantastic than Cronenberg’s simple organic and mechanic montages. There are a lot of texts and a lot of questions to point to here: those out-of-series issues of Cahiers du cinéma (Monstresses, Photos de films), Marc Vernet’s Figures de l’absence [1988], Jean Narboni’s “La robe sans couture”, Pascal Bonitzer’s books, Michel Chion’s which instruct us in the elaboration of the sonorous body, and still others. [36]  For me the invention of figural analysis for the cinema definitively began in 1979 with Godard’s mise-en-page for his issue 300 of Cahiers and, very precisely, with the montage that argued, “See how Krystyna Janda acts in a bad dream of what used to be October“. Such is the Bazinian exigency maintained in the heart of a type of non-Bazinian analysis that no longer takes the real as second nature or as the second nature of film and which, in every way, does not have the same conception of the real (rather Lacanian these days): to find the way the cinema discovers human experience (and this could be a door as unexpected as [Jean] Cocteau’s mirror-pools, the anxious face of an actress in a tendentious film [film à thèse], the formless shot of a bus with which nothing can be done) and the way the cinema sets that experience forth naked, in its radical strangeness, in that which is unnameable in it. Moreover, this is why we remain still a little behind Bazin, who was capable of writing about Umberto D [Vittorio De Sica, 1952], “The subject (of the film) exists before, it does not exist after”. [37]

Intersecting with these figural problems, a good proportion of common theoretical effort has been spent on the relations between cinema and painting, which are examined in several collective works and a decisive oeuvre, Jacques Aumont’s. (p. 38) Decisive in its method: not to make an inventory of pictorial occurrences in the cinema or of cinematographic interventions in painting, but to look at the ways in which two artistic disciplines parcel out certain problems or, inversely, remain deaf to questions that are of burning importance in the other’s field: to see, for example, how the very notion of the visible transits and modifies itself in the passage of one art to another, to retrieve, as Aumont writes, the look and the drama.

If there is painting in Godard’s cinema, it is there no longer only henceforth in the reprise of certain representations but in the appropriation, the renovation or the abduction of pictorial problems and more largely in its relation to the visible. [39]

Decisive also because of its historic frame: neither the pictorial nor the cinematographic exist in themselves, they consist only of changing, conflicting elaborations which suggest becoming [dont le devenir doit être pensé] (the history of the inventions of the frame in L’Oeil interminable [1989] ought to be followed by its mutations in focus [en point] in Godard). Decisive for its consequences and notably for its reworking in Du visage au cinéma [1992] where the question of the face allows a singular enrichment of the question of the portrait. From one book to the next, we move from a history of the problematisation of plastic constituents (the successive creations of the frame, color, light … by painting and by the cinema) to the analytic elaboration of the chief problem of the cinema: that of the face. In other words, the confrontation between cinema and painting has not been a matter of plastic forms, it has constituted the foundation of a poetics, no longer of parameters, forms or styles, but a poetics of problems, which Jacques Aumont has inaugurated with the most important study of all.

Face, portrait, self-portrait: three terms of the question of identity have been submitted to an intense questioning throughout this decade. Raymond Bellour’s fine book, L’Entre-images [1990], which describes with great delicacy the movement of the image between fields of art that are apparently very close: photography, cinema and video, ends almost with these words:

the works that we have traversed all pose the question, “Who am I?” even if they do not formulate it exactly like that. They respond by making of this “I”, sometimes caught fleetingly, a scattered entity, of excess, of drift [dérive], of play, and the visible support of an anonymity that contrives an access to the seizure of the word as to the forces of personal anxiety. You see here subjects lured by the most intimate side of themselves [attirés du plus intime d’eux-mêmes] towards a new form of “thinking of the outside”, based on the constraints and the possibilities of image and sound. [40]

I believe that I can finish on this note: the subject of the cinema as contemporary theories have grasped it is that creature haunted by heterogeneity which, more than knowing itself, prefers to verify that something else is still possible (a body, a friend, a world). The cinema that describes this is thus a cinema with a very elevated figural responsibility. It employs and deploys the image according to its powers (without presuming on its abilities ), [41]  and it begs for anthropological analyses in the manner of Jean-Pierre Vernant drawing the frontiers of the Grecian body thanks to the vocabulary of the Iliad, in the manner of Claude Ollier describing the modes of the destruction of the other in the films of [Louis] Feuillade. [42] Gilles Deleuze wrote magnificently to Serge Daney, “You find . . . that film itself still has endless possibilities, and that it is the ultimate journey”. [43]  En route I have omitted many things that were nevertheless outstanding: texts by Noël Burch, by Patrick Lacoste. I would like to talk about the intellectual evolution that marks the different analyses of Dreyer’s Vampyr [1932], the theoretic fetish of this decade . . . and this piece is already too long. That will be for the third century.

[1] [Trans. Note: This translation is by William D. Routt, with immense and irreplaceable assistance from Adrian Martin and Danielle Pottier-Lacroix, as well as the author herself. Most of the notes are as they appeared in the original. When one or another of us has been able to locate English cognates for French references that information has been added to the Notes.]
[2] At the same time the theoretical work of Christian Metz found itself celebrated, feted, commented on . . . closed off. (See Christian Metz et la théorie du cinéma, Iris, no. 10, special issue (April 1990), Méridiens Klincksieck and 25 ans de sémiologie, dossier edited by André Gardies, CinémAction, no. 58 (January 1991), Corlet-Telérama.) On L’Énonciation impersonnelle see the review by Roger Odin in Iris, no. 14-15 (Autumn 1992), pp. 201-211. [Trans. note: an English translation of a portion of L’Énonciation impersonelle appeared as “The impersonal enunciation or the site of film (in the margin of recent works on enunciation in cinema)” in New Literary History 22 (1991): pp. 747-772.]
[3] Vsevolod Meyerhold, Écrits sur le théâtre, vol. 4, 1935-1940, edited and translated by Béatrice Picon-Valin (Lausanne: L’Age d’Homme, 1992), p. 321. [Trans. note: none of Brenez’s citations of Meyerhold appear in the two volumes of English translations I have been able to consult.]
[4] Ibid., p. 327.
[5] Ibid., p. 83.
[6] Macmillan – due to appear in France thanks to Marc Chènetier, who has exhumed, established and translated Lindsay’s writing. [Trans. note: what this means is that the references in French are not keyed to a published text. I have done what I could to tie Brenez’s quotes to the 1970 Liveright reissue of the 1922 version (see note 7 for complete reference), but some of them come from places other than The Art of the Moving Picture – especially from Lindsay’s letters and from his unpublished book on the cinema, The Greatest Movies Now Running. The first quote is from a letter to Ms. Montague, 16 September 1915, in the University of West Virginia Archives (N. Brenez, letter to W. Routt, 23 July 1997).]
[7] [Trans. note: Lindsay, The Art of the Moving Picture, New York: Liveright, 1970, p. 193.]
[8] [Trans. note: The Greatest Movies Now Running, p. 130, cited in Laurence Goldstein, The American Poet at the Movies (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press), p. 32.]
[9] [Trans. note: Lindsay, p. 78.]
[10] [Trans. note: portions of L’homme ordinaire and “L’image, la mort” appear in English translation under the title of “Cinema” in The Enigmatic Body: Essays on the Arts by Jean-Louis Schefer, edited and translated by Paul Smith (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 108-138. The whole of La lumière et la proie also appears there, under the title of “Light and its prey” (pp. 65-107). Citations of Schefer in what follows will refer to the translations in The Enigmatic Body whenever possible.]
[11] “The cinema makes visible the effect of the alterity of the world” (“L’image, la mort”, p. 47).
[12] “This sudden raising within us of a phantom existence, of an unsuspected vampire” (L’homme ordinaire, p. 113); “. . . like a guardian angel that assists the spectator and would be the ideal place, the scarcely projected place, of a realisation of a perceiving body which is known only as the chimera of a living body (“L’image, la mort”, p. 67).
[13]  L’homme ordinaire, p. 17. [Trans. note: The Enigmatic Body, p. 114.]
[14] [Trans. note: The Enigmatic Body, pp. 94-96.]
[15] “The notion of the analogy is evidently, logically, an ‘aberration’ in the proper sense of the term”, cited in the illuminating and necessary historic analysis of Shefer’s work by Jean-Louis Leutrat in Kaleidoscope: Analyses de films, (Lyon: P.U.L., 1988), p. 13.
[16] “L’accident” in Cet enfant de cinéma, edited by Alain Bergala (Aix-en-Provence: Institut de l’Image, 1993), p. 39.
[17] L’homme ordinaire, p. 198
[18] Hubert Damish discusses [Ernst] Cassirer’s phrase in “Panofsky am Scheidewege” in Panofsky, cahiers pour un temps (Paris: Centre Pompidou, 1983), p. 106.
[19] [Trans. note: the French translation of Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory (1970), quoted in Brenez’s note, has “le montage est la capitulation intra-esthétique de l’art devant ce qui lui est hétérogène” (trans. Marc Jimenez, Klincksieck, 1989, p. 201). The English translation is “Viewed aesthetically, montage was the capitulation by art before what is different from it” (trans. G. Lenhardt, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984, p. 222).]
[20] “They are now convinced that they will perhaps one day find the source of this river, but they doubt they will ever find representatives of the human race. Father Duchartre baptises the river, ‘Rio Zero’.” Jean Renoir, “Magnificat IV”, 1941, translated by Dominique Villain, in Oeuvres de cinéma inédites, collected by Claude Gauteur, Cahiers du cinéma, Gallimard, 1981, p. 109.
[21] A project that one can now read as well as see: Alain Bergala collected Rossellini’s writing in Le cinéma révélé, for Éditions de l’Étoile in 1984. Fragments d’une autobiographie, translated by Stefano Roncoroni, appeared in 1987 (Ramsay).
[22] See Bruno Alcala, “Temps et pensée” and Marie-Claire Ropars-Wuillemier, “Le cinéma, lecteur de Gilles Deleuze” in CinémAction no. 47, 1988 [“The cinema, reader of Gilles Deleuze”, Camera Obscura 18 (September 1988), pp. 120-126], Les théories du cinéma, a dossier edited by Jacques Kermabon; Reda Bensmaia, “Un philosophe au cinéma”, Le magazine littéraire no. 257, September 1988; Jean-Louis Leutrat, “Deux temps, trois mouvements” and “L’araignée” in Kaleidoscope, op. cit.
[23] So Viktor Shklovsky wrote in Letter 22 of Zoo (1923, translated by Vladimir Pozner, Gallimard, 1963, p. 93) about literature insofar as it is able to be inspired by the arts of spectacle: “All contrasts end by being exhausted. So only one solution remains: to move to ‘isolated moments’ [passer aux ‘moments isolés’], break the relations which have become scar tissue”. [Trans. note: again, there is a significant difference in the English translation: “Finally, all contrasts are exhausted. Then one choice remains – to shift the components, to sever the connections, which have become scar tissue” (Zoo, or letters not about love, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1971, p.81).]
[24]  Cinéma 2: l’image-temps, p. 225. [Trans. note: this quote is directly from Cinema 2: the time-image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989, p. 173.]
[25] 10th interview with Noël Simsolo, “À voix nue”, France-Culture, 1989.
[26] Ibid., 1st interview. The citations that follow are taken from this radio series [ensemble].
[27] [Trans. note: this is a real, if obsolete, English word, not simply, or wholly, the French-influenced jargon of pseuds like me.]
[28]   Le rapport Darty, Jean-Luc Godard, 1989
[29] In  Cet enfant de cinéma, p. 43.
[30] “To make the visible a little hard to see”, thus begins P. Adams Sitney’s book,  Modernist Montage: The Obscurity of Vision in Cinema and Literature, Columbia University Press, 1990. [Trans. note: the phrase actually occurs in the second sentence of his book, and Sitney attributes it to Wallace Stevens’s poem, “The Creations of Sound”.]
[31] Pierre Legendre, Le passion d’être un autre, Seuil, 1978, p. 154.
[32] “The body cannot be remade into a noble object: it remains the corpse however vigorously it is trained and kept fit”, Adorno and [Max] Horkheimer, The Dialectic of Enlightenment, 1944 [London: Allen Lane, 1973: 234].
[33]  ‘Voyage en Italie de Roberto Rossellini, Yellow Now, 1990 and “Antonioni années cinquante: une esthétique de l’oubli” in Cinémathèque no. 2, Yellow Now (November 1992).
[34] In Cahiers du cinéma, nos. 331 and 332 (January and February 1982).
[35] “Sacha Guitry ou le théâtre au cinéma” in Théâtre et cinéma, Studio 43-Dunkerque, 1990.
[36]  Monstresses, [Cahiers du cinéma, hors série, 1980], Photos de films, edited by Alain Bergala, 1978; Marc Vernet, Figures de l’absence (Paris: Éditions de l’Étoile, 1988); Jean Narboni, “La robe sans couture” in Roberto Rossellini (Paris: Cahiers du cinéma/La cinémathèque française, 1990); Pascal Bonitzer, Le champ aveugle, op. cit.; Michel Chion, La voix au cinéma, (Paris: Éditions de l’Étoile, 1982), Le son au cinéma, (Paris: Éditions de l’Étoile, 1985).
[37] Bazin’s emphasis, “De Sica, metteur en scène” in Qu’est-ce que le cinéma, vol. 4: Une esthétique de la réalité: le neo-réalisme (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1962), p. 88 [Trans. note: “the subject exists before the working scenario, but it does not exist afterward” according to the English translation (What is cinema?, vol. 2, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971, p. 77)].
[39] My emphasis. “Godard peintre” in “Jean-Luc Godard – le cinéma”, Revue Belge du cinéma, no. 22/23, edited by Philippe Dubois, p. 42; reprinted with modifications in L’oeil interminable, op. cit., p. 227.
[40] Raymond Bellour,  L’Entre-images. Photo. Cinéma. Vidéo (Paris: La Différence, 1990), p. 330
[41] See Louis Marin’s posthumous book, Des pouvoirs de l’image – Gloses (Paris: Seuil, 1993).
[42] Jean-Pierre Vernant, L’individu, la mort, l’amour. Soi-même et l’autre en Grèce ancienne (Paris: Gallimard, 1989), p. 21 ff.; Claude Ollier, Souvenirs écran, op. cit., p. 254.
[43] “Optimisme, pessimisme, voyage”, preface to Ciné-Journal (Paris: Cahiers du cinéma, 1986), p. 12. [Trans. note: the English here is from Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations 1972-1990, trans. Martin Joughin, New York: Columbia University Press, 1995, p. 78].

About the Author

Nicole Brenez

About the Author

Nicole Brenez

Nicole Brenez works as Professor of Cinema at Université Paris 3 Sorbonne nouvelle, and programs experimental cinema for the Cinémathèque française. Her many writings include a book on Abel Ferrara (French and English editions) and a collection of essays, De la figure en général et du corps en particulier (Brussels: De Boeck, 1998).View all posts by Nicole Brenez →