Distance(s) #19, or: the rhetoric of defamation

Deux fois cinquante ans de cinéma français - JLG & Anne-Marie Miéville, 1995, video



'I am not writing this letter with the intention to make you reconsider your criticism — nothing is farther from my mind. I am merely writing this letter to point out to you that several times in your criticism you resort to what one calls in sports circles a "foul."'

Brody again skips over the gist of this densely argued article [Towards a Political Cinema, 1950] to get to what interests him: “We could not forget Hitler Youth Quex, certain passages of films by Leni Riefenstahl, several shocking newsreels from the Occupation, the maleficent ugliness of The Eternal Jew. It is not the first time art is born of constraint.” And he concludes that Godard “took all fanaticisms to be alike and to be equally beautiful. Without equating the far left and the far right politically, Godard equated them aesthetically.”

Sliced and diced like a package of subprime mortgages, Godard’s questing thought becomes what Brody needs it to be, and in the process we may not even notice that the person who’s equating communism and fascism politically, by calling them both “fanaticisms,” is Brody. That’s ideological simplification with a vengeance.


Richard Brody's recent biography is clearly still providing ammunition for those who wish to indict Godard as an anti-Semite, and the (ceejay) model for which they like to attack. The rest of Bill Krohn's article quoted above remains the most rigorous and forceful rebuttal to such unthinking, often malicious, slurs, and David EhrensteinAndy Rector have added their voice too. One more — Godard in Deux fois cinquante ans, 'I make film (hi)story by being a small part of it, no-one has ever told me what I was doing there...', final words to André Malraux:

Histoire(s) du cinéma 4A: Contrôle de l'univers - JLG, 1998, video

L'espoir - André Malraux, 1945, 35mm

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