This September, cinema lost one of its most iconoclastic and influential artists and thinkers when Jean-Luc Godard passed away at age 91. To say that Godard’s mark upon film history and aesthetics is profound would be a vast understatement: few have so radically transformed our understanding of the medium’s possibilities, of the inextricable link between cinema and politics, of the ways in which thought itself can play out within and between images and sounds. Godard wasn’t merely a fixture at the New York Film Festival: from its very beginning (his contribution to the omnibus film Ro.Go.Pa.G., “The New World”, was included in the inaugural NYFF in 1963), Godard’s work has been a guiding light for the festival, with more than 25 films selected across every decade of the festival’s 60-year-existence. (Additionally, he was the subject of an extensive retrospective at NYFF51.)
It will take decades to come to grips with the extent of his intervention into film art, but for now, we pay tribute to an artist who exhilarated and challenged us year after year by presenting his final film, 2018’s sprawling, dense, testament-like The Image Book (an NYFF56 Main Slate selection), on a loop and for free in the Amphitheater at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center throughout the festival’s first week (October 1-7).
Special thanks to Kino Lorber.
The Image Book
Jean-Luc Godard, 2018, Switzerland, 90m
Jean-Luc Godard’s “late period” probably began with 2001’s In Praise of Love, and since then he had formulated and enacted a path toward an ending: the ending of individual films, the ending of engagement with cinema, and, at age 87 upon the completion of his last film, the possible ending of his own existence. With The Image Book all barriers between the artist, his art, and his audience dissolved. The film is structured in chapters and predominantly comprised of pre-existing images, many of which will be familiar from Godard’s previous work. The relationship between image and sound is, as always, intensely physical and sometimes jaw-dropping. An NYFF56 selection.
10/1 | 2-5pm The Image Book (90m) x 2
10/2 | 4-5:30pm The Image Book (90m) x 1
10/3 | 12-3pm The Image Book (90m) x 2
10/4 | 2-5pm The Image Book (90m) x 2
10/5 | 2-5pm The Image Book (90m) x 2
10/6 | 2-5pm The Image Book (90m) x 2
10/7 | 2-5pm The Image Book (90m) x 2
Listen below to a special episode of the Film Comment Podcast where critics Richard Brody and Blair McClendon discuss the ways in which Godard’s films awakened them to the aesthetic and political potentialities of cinema.