Contrebandes Godard, 1960-1968 / Pierre Pinchon
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In his first feature film, À bout de souffle (1960), Jean-Luc Godard used the photo novel and comic strip as promotional material for his films. He seized upon these popular forms to build specific cinematographic sequences. He also made allusions to the forms and quoted specific works in his films, and his embrace of these tools off-screen became a critical aspect of his work. Between 1960 and 1968, Godard's films were accompanied by a promotional apparatus inspired by comics and photo novels. This output appeared in the specialized press as well as in daily newspapers and publications aimed at the youth market.
Besides being useful as a tool for promotion, the comics and film-stories designed for À bout de souffle, Une femme est une femme (1961) and Alphaville (1965) extended these films beyond the theater, allowing Godard to work in a wider media arena. By smuggling his stories into novel new formats, Godard was able engage with the public in a new way.
Unexplored until now, Godard's reasons for taking pictures and producing comics appear to have been numerous: to circumvent political censorship and age-restrictions placed on his films (movie-goers had to be over the age of 18); to invent a modern new way to promote his films; to reconcile auteur cinema in France with popular culture; to explore the evolving relationship between image and text, while extending the act of filmmaking; and to appropriate and divert mass media for his own artistic ends.
Pierre Pinchon's Contrebandes Godard reproduces many of the documents that were first published in the 1960s, giving pride of place to several works in their entirety, including: on-set photographs for the French paper Le Parisien Libéré, taken during the filming of À bout de souffle by the famed photographer of the New Wave, Raymond Cauchetier; the film-novel which Godard wanted to accompany the release of Une femme est une femme; a cartoon which was designed to promote Alphaville, published in the Figaro-Pravda newspaper — a fictitious publication from the movie which Godard designed and printed to coincide with the release of the film; a photo-novel for Une femme mariée (1964), co-authored with Macha Méril; and an illustrated screenplay for Godard's Le Petit Soldat (1960).
Texts by art historians Pierre Pinchon and Marie-Charlotte Calafat, and an account by the actress Macha Méril about the design and production for the photo-novel Une femme mariée provide context for this graphic collection of works.
Published by Éditions Matière, 2018
Hardcover, 224 pages, offset, 9.75 × 13.40 inches