Posted 11 February 2004 - 03:24 PM
Detective is alright. It is marred by the same thing many of his 80's films are: a seeming half-heartedness and inability to do much more than probe slightly beyond the scope of his 60's films. Out of the 80's, the better stuff is Prenom Carmen, Passion, and Hail Mary. Some of the other things are really hard to find.
Detective is really tough to watch and follow, and if anything has value only as an example of Godardian storytelling.
Forever Mozart and Eloge de l'amour are two late Godards that are easy to find and well worth watching.
The thing about Godard Asher that is tough to fit into the stream of French film history is that he is an anomaly. But he is an anomaly that fed and informed mainstream European and independent American cinema for years. So his influence runs parallel to the New Wave even though he is a part of it.
I have a shpeel on Godard hopefully appearing somewhere soon, and the gist of the piece is that Bazin's aesthetic argued for getting to the "real" through long takes, ambient noise, and other typically Bazinian things. Truffaut really was his visual prodigy, especially his very early stuff. But for Godard, the real for modern culture is the forms and conventions that mediate the "real" to us. This is why he begins to deconstruct Hollywood and literary convention so early. Those conventions are what are real for society, for Godard they stand opaquely between us and Bazin's "real."
So cinema can produce a version or form of the real that is entirely unique for film. It is a quintessentially modern version of the "real." (And this is before we could really even start talking about "post-modernism".)
Godard thus rejects Bazin's long, smooth, (ethical :wink:), deep-focus tracking shots and re-discovers the montage. It is the montage that is concerned with the present tense. The montage is a means of both being influenced by and influencing film. Montage is the means of permeability that all cinema should strive for. Thus it is Godard's method that truly penetrates and is penetrated by the real in a modern sense.
Some of these thoughts are key for really putting his early films together, even if he discovered much of it by mistake and unfamiliarity with editing. His later films ride the wave of a much more complex (but related) thought pattern.