We don’t often run press releases, but we’re making an exception.Caboose Books out of Montreal have just issued, for the first time in English, Jean-Luc Godard’s Introduction To A True History Of Cinema And Television. Introduction To A True History Of Cinema And Television is a collection of transcripts of Godard’s legendary talks on the history of the movies from 1978.
We recently bore witness to the reconstructed Slow Motion, which acts as a continuation of the work Godard was producing during this period. Before his return to mainstream cinema in 1979 (with Slow Motion) Godard produced a series of lectures on the history of cinema. This project would ultimately result in Histoire(s) du Cinéma, but the route to that more famous work is one littered with fascinating experimentation. The alternative cut of Slow Motion, which sees reels from 4 non-Godard directed films intercut with sections from his own film, is one such experiment, with the unknownness of that particular project a testament to the quality of work from the era that has slipped in to the realm of the forgotten.
The path to Histoire(s) is one that’s been well examined of late, with several recent books focussing on this particular period of the director’s extensive career. Introduction To A True History Of Cinema And Television looks to be an invaluable tool for further examination. One can’t help but admire Caboose’s intentions, and it should go without saying that they should be lauded for their efforts.
Here’s the press release.
Images are freedom and words are prison.
MONTREAL, 14 May 2014—As Jean-Luc Godard prepares to present his latest film, Adieu au langage, in 3D, in competition at the 2014 Cannes film festival, caboose is pleased to announce publication of his legendary 1978 Montreal lectures, Introduction to a True History of Cinema and Television, fully transcribed and translated into English for the first time.
This mammoth 560-page volume includes 82 illustrations by the author and a lengthy essay on the director as film historian by Godard scholar Michael Witt. It is the second volume in the caboose series ‘Theory and Practice’, which launched with its universally-acclaimed translation of selections from André Bazin’s What is Cinema?
In the book, Godard sets out a philosophy of the image—in the process disproving his own thesis that words are prison, for there is nothing more liberating than this book—and outlines a theory and practice of ‘making’ film history through the act of viewing films. The Montreal talks were the forerunner to his video series Histoire(s) du cinéma. While some critics have described the latter as his Finnegans Wake, the True History of Cinemais his Arabian Nights: page-turning true stories of the movies whose idiosyncratic views, leavened with Godard’s famous caustic wit, will delight all readers. Never has Godard been as loquacious, lucid and disarmingly frank as he is here, holding forth, in an experience he describes as a form of ‘public self-psychoanalysis’, on his personal and professional relationships, working methods, aesthetic preferences, political beliefs and, on the cusp of 50, his philosophy of life.
Godard’s True History of Cinema will quickly become one of the great classics of film literature. Already the pre-publication reviews are unanimous: James Williams of the University of London calls it ‘a major event in film studies . . . conveys brilliantly Godard’s mercurial thought in action . . . wonderfully accessible and superbly edited’; James Naremore of Indiana University advises that it is ‘important reading for anyone interested in Godard—in other words, anyone interested in cinema’; Vinzenz Hediger of Goethe Universität describes it as ‘guaranteed to become an instant work of reference in Godard scholarship’; Raymond Bellour, Emeritus Director of Research at France’s CNRS, calls it the ‘first scholarly publication’ of Godard’s talks, accounting for the reason it is ‘such an event’; and Phil Coldiron of the film magazine Cinema Scope describes it as ‘essential, very surely the most important book on cinema that will be released this year’.
caboose is also pleased to announce the launch of the short essay series Kino-Agora, edited by Christian Keathley, with five volumes by leading film scholars now in print: The Kinematic Turn: Film in the Digital Era and its Ten Problems by André Gaudreault and Philippe Marion; Dead and Alive: The Body as Cinematic Thing by Lesley Stern; Montageby Jacques Aumont; Mise en Jeu and Mise en Geste by Sergei Eisenstein, in a brilliant translation by the young translator Sergey Levchin; and The Life of the Author by Sarah Kozloff.
One copy of a volume in the Kino-Agora series will ship free with every on-line purchase of Introduction to a True History of Cinema and Television. Copies can be purchased separately for $5 on-line, or $8 in stores and on Amazon. A $4 Kindle version is also available. (Prices for the Eisenstein volume are $8, $10 and $7 respectively.) New titles in the series, also to be given away with the Godard book, will be introduced every few months. We’re currently accepting proposals from critics and scholars for future volumes. The first half of a volume in the series by caboose proprietor Timothy Barnard, about cinema’s ‘lost’ term Découpage, can be viewed on the caboose site in PDF format free of charge. It is scheduled for publication in the fall of 2014.
Be sure to browse our web site to see our upcoming publications and free samples. These include the ‘Reading with Filmmakers’ series, collaborative volumes on the books that influenced leading filmmakers, beginning with Sergei Eisenstein, Jean-Luc Godard and Luis Buñuel (you can even take a virtual tour of Sergei Eisenstein’s library!), and our ‘Critical Filmographies of World Cinema’, in which specialists in national cinemas write film history through a country’s 100 most significant films.
Finally, you’ll want to check out our fun and informative web project, Planetary Projection, in which film projectionists around the world discuss their work and views on film in their own words. 1000-word vignettes and photos of the men and women in the booth at work paint a unique portrait of film projectionists and projection at the moment this art and science is largely dying out. Some 40 vignettes are already on-line and more are posted as they arrive. Please tell anyone you know who has projected film about Planetary Projection and invite them to contact us and to contribute to this oral history.
I’m pleased to be releasing the first English translation of Jean-Luc Godard’s bookIntroduction to a True History of Cinema and Television in a corrected and annotated first-ever English edition. One of the few sources of Godard’s ideas in English, it is provocative, profound and fun to read. It has something for everyone because it’s about just about everything, as only Godard knows how. Film buffs of every description will enjoy reading this book, and scholars will find material here for years of study and debate. Godard’s book is simply a marvel and I’m thrilled to be able to help people discover it.
—Timothy Barnard, proprietor, caboose, Montreal
When it was invented cinema fostered, or impressed, a different way of seeing called editing, which is to put something in relation to someone in a different way than novels or paintings. This is why it was successful, enormously successful, because it opened people’s eyes in a certain way. With painting there was a single relationship to the painting, with literature there was a single relationship to the novel, but when people saw a film there was something that was at least double – and when someone watched it became triple. There was something different which in its technical form gradually came to be called editing, meaning there was a connection. It was something that filmed not things, but the connection between things.
—Jean-Luc Godard, Introduction to a True History of Cinema and Television
caboose is a small, independent film book publisher which receives no public or private funding. We’re putting this book out in a very high quality, affordable edition to make it accessible to all. We thank you for your support and look forward to bringing you more important books about film and to working with independent bookstores, film festivals and other groups worldwide in marketing Jean-Luc Godard’s book in the spirit of his Montreal talks. Please contact us for information about retail opportunities, and please recommend the book to your public or institutional library.
Information: Timothy Barnard, firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduction to a True History Cinema and Television is available exclusively on-line from caboose.