Histoire(s) du Cinéma (Jean-Luc Godard)
This unique series of documentaries on the history or histor(ies), is a play on the fact that there are more than one history to tell a fact or a manifestation that happened. Godard began his career as a film critic, then a film director, an auteur, a philosopher, a Maoist, and he easily got his degree in History only with his own attempt at summarizing some of the most important moments of film History. To him, the Cinema is the greatest of all Arts. And by using History of Art, classical poetry, stills from hundreds of films, and his mastery of editing, Godard demonstrates how Film became to get the control of the universe.
Separated in many chapters : Toutes les histoires (All the Histories), Seul le Cinéma (Only the cinema), Les signes parmi nous (The Signs Around Us), Fatale Beauté (Fatale Beauty), La monnaie de l’absolue (Absolute money), Le contrôle de l’univers (The Control of the Universe), Une vague nouvelle (A New Wave). Each chapter catches themes, nationalities, concepts that were game changing in the world of films.
Those mandatory documentaries, cinephile-wise, have not been seen a lot and the few who have watched them complained a lot about the techniques of editing, title cards, use of sound and flashes. However, when one concentrates and takes the time to actually understand the propos, it is a major and impressive work and foremost a dedication to cinema itself. Jean-Luc Godard may sound pretentious and pedantic, well he is, but his knowledge and understanding of the art that is Cinema transcends his own ego and he is probably the man the most well suited to do such a gigantic task to summarize so many aspects of this liberal art.
Godard understood that this popular form of expression is accessible to everyone and that you don’t need to be a well educated person to be called by cinema. It has become the best instrument of propaganda and the greatest control of the masses.
The most interesting film critic still living but now retired, Jonathan Rosenbaum listed Histoire(s) du Cinéma as one of the ten best films of all time for his list in the 2012 Sight and Sound Poll. I can understand how it speaks to man with all this knowledge of the seventh Art. I believe that it is a series of documentaries that should be rewatched periodically, like every five years in the life of a cinephile so that with new viewings and discoveries he assembles the different parts of the puzzle and bring together his own History of Cinema.