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The Image Book

Jean Luc Godard‘s THE IMAGE BOOK is a testament, a collage, a modern poem about film and reality, representation and democracy, politics and revolution, and control and life.


Jean Luc Godard‘s IMAGE BOOK is a poetic montage reminiscent of classic modernist texts, especially T.S. Eliot‘s “The Waste Land“ and Ezra Pound‘s “Cantos.“ It speaks in many languages. In the German subtitled original version that I saw the subtitles were fragmentary, in the German version Godard himself does the translation which can‘t be complete, there are too many layers of superimposed texts for that to be the case. It‘s about the whole picture in 5 chapters. IMAGE BOOK seems like a testament, a last call, for a new way of looking at the least, maybe to a revolution, perhaps only to sadness. “We aren‘t sad enough to change the world“ shows up once. In the end the question “do we need a revolution?“ stands. The answer: “When we were young, we were fuelled by shining hopes,“ then a scene from Max Ophüls‘ film LE PLAISIR, a frenetic dance which ends with a lover collapsing. Under his mask is an old man, who died either because of or in the throes of pleasure, but Godard doesn‘t show that anymore, we must know that ourselves. IMAGE BOOK is also canonic education, as elitist as it is revolutionary, according to the principles of Peter Weiss‘ aesthetic of resistance: we need to work harder, know more than the fascists. Chapter 1: Remakes. The image imitates reality, the image imitates the image, reality imitates the image of images. Chapter 2: the nights of St. Petersburg. War, while the rulers rule and the subjects die and kill. Chapter 3: “like flowers in tracks/so sad, poor in the mad wind of travel“ (Rilke, “Das Stundenbuch). Railroads and cinema. Chapter 4: the spirit of law: Montesqieu‘s idea of the republic as a suppression of rebellion. Enlightenment and rule. Chapter 5: The central region (Michael Snow, 1971): is the middle of the world Arabia? IMAGE BOOK is cognitive overload, but Godard knows that you are aware of more than you think.

Tom Dorow

Translation: Elinor Lewy


Original title: Le livre d'image
Frankreich/Schweiz 2018, 85 min
Genre: Experimental film, Drama
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Author: Jean-Luc Godard
DOP: Fabrice Aragno
Montage: Fabrice Aragno, Jean-Luc Godard
Distributor: Grandfilm
Release: 04.04.2019




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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