After finishing his film Weekend in 1967, Jean-Luc Godard shifted gears to embark on engaging more directly with the radical political movements of the era, and thus create a new kind of film, or, as he eventually put it: “new ideas distributed in a new way.” This new method in part involved collaborating with the precocious young critic and journalist, Jean-Pierre Gorin. Both as a two-person unit, and as part of the loose collective known as the Groupe Dziga Vertov (named after the early 20th-century Russian filmmaker and theoretician), Godard and Gorin would realize “some political possibilities for the practice of cinema” and craft new frameworks for investigating the relationships between image and sound, spectator and subject, cinema and society.
Included here are five films, all originally shot in 16mm celluloid, that serve as examples of Godard and Gorin’s revolutionary project:
Un film comme les autres [A Film Like Any Other]: An analysis of the social upheaval of May 1968 made in the immediate wake of the workers’ and students’ protests. The picture consists of two parts, each with with identical image tracks, and differing narration.
British Sounds, aka: See You at Mao: An examination of the daily routine at a British auto factory assembly line, set against class-conflict and The Communist Manifesto.
Vent d’est [Wind from the East]: A loosely conceived leftist-western that moves through a series of practical and analytical passages (“an organization of shots,” Godard called it) into a finale based around the process of manufacturing homemade weapons.
Lotte in Italia / Luttes en Italie [Struggles in Italy]: Not necessarily a film about the struggles in Italy — largely shot, in fact, in Godard and Anne Wiazemsky’s home at the time — this is a discursive reflection on a young Italian woman’s shift from political “theory” to political “practice” and, at the same time, a self-questioning of its own practice and theories.
Vladimir et Rosa [Vladimir and Rosa]: A searing and satirical comic-reportage on the trial of the Chicago Eight, featuring Juliet Berto and Godard and Gorin themselves.
These films, long out-of-circulation except in film dupes and bootleg video, here make their Blu-ray debut, providing a crucial glimpse of Godard’s radicalization, and of the aesthetic dialogue between him and Gorin that, in essence, served to invent a modern militant cinema. As Godard told an English journalist of the era, film is not a gun — but “a light which helps you check your gun.”