In the late ’60s, french heiress Sylvina Boissonnas funded a collective of radical art cinema productions under the banner Zanzibar–heady, hallucinatory works of avant-garde film that straddled the line between performance art, revolutionary agitprop and self-conscious mythopoetic narrative. One of the most lucid artifacts of this movement was Le Lit de La Vierge, Garrel’s blasphemous chef d’oeuvre about the life of Jesus. Counterculture icon and fellow director Pierre Clementi plays Jesus, a shivering heap of bones sent unwillingly into the cruel world with a bullhorn and a crown of thorns by his mother Mary (fellow fashionista Zouzou).
His 20th Century [HISTOIRE(S) DU CINÉMA]
by Jonathan Rosenbaum
(From the Chicago Reader; July 16, 1993)
If you want to be “up to the minute” about cinema, there’s no reason to be concerned that it’s taken four years for Jean-Luc Godard’s ambitious video series to reach Chicago. After all, James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, the artwork to which Histoire(s) du cinéma seems most comparable, written between 1922 and 1939, was first published in 1939, but if you started to read it for the first time this week, you’d still be way ahead of most people in keeping up with literature. For just as Finnegans Wake figuratively situates itself at some theoretical stage after the end of the English language as we know it — from a vantage point where, inside Joyce’s richly multilingual, pun-filled babble, one can look back at the 20th century and ask oneself, “What was the English language?” — Godard’s babbling video similarly projects itself into the future in order to ask, “What was cinema?” Indeed, the fact that it’s a video and not a film already tells you a great deal about its point of view. Joyce’s province was the history of mankind as perceived through language and vice versa, both experienced and recapitulated through a single ordinary night of sleep. Only superficially more modest, Godard’s province is the 20th century as perceived through cinema and vice versa — the title can be translated loosely as “Film (Hi)story/Film (Hi)- stories” — both experienced and recapitulated through technology. Clips and sound tracks are examined and juxtaposed — partly through the ordinary operations of a video watcher (fast forward, slow motion, freeze frame, muting, and programming) and partly through more sophisticated techniques like editing, sound mixing, captioning, and superimposition.
CRM 114 made it first appearance in a Kubrick film in Dr Strangelove (1963), according to the production designer, Ken Adam, “Stanley was so steeped in his material [that] his conversation was full of megadeaths, gyro headings and CRM 114s.” The source is Peter Bryant’s book “Red Alert,” Communication officer Mellows is describing the code procedure to Captain Brown:
“To ensure the enemy cannot plant false transmissions and fake orders, once the attack orders have been passed and acknowledged the CRM 114 is to be switched into the receiver circuit. The three code letters of the period are to be set on the alphabet dials of the CRM 114, which will then block any transmissions other than those preceded by the set letters from being fed into the receiver.”Read More
“The Sorbonne should be razed and Chris Marker put in its place.” —Henri Michaux
“Contrary to what people say, using the first person in films tends to be a sign of humility: ‘All I have to offer is myself.’” —Chris Marker
Even though few film essayists are more mythological than Chris Marker, it might help to clarify some matters if a couple of the more persistent myths surrounding his legend were undermined a little. On the first page of her recent and useful book about him, Chris Marker, Nora M. Alter (to whom I owe the above Michaux quotation) alludes to his “reclusive nature.” Without quite wishing to refute her, I’d like to point out that she and I both met Marker in the 1990s—she at his Paris residence, at his invitation; me at the highly convivial Festival of the Midnight Sun in northern Finland, above the Arctic Circle, a film event that he attended with some regularity for a spell—and reclusive isn’t the first adjective that would spring to my mind, especially for someone as socially oriented as Marker. This recalls Thomas Pynchon’s cautionary words: “My belief is that recluse is a code word generated by journalists . . . meaning, ‘doesn’t like to talk to reporters.’”Read More