Opposing Convention: Jean-Luc Godard as
politique des auteurs
first popularized by
Cahiers du Cinéma
is arguably one of the most divisive theories formulated throughout the history of cinema studies. AsWollen notes, the theory has separated critics into two schools of thought: those whodefine an
according to similarities in
occurring in their work,and those who emphasised a so-called "core of meanings [or thematic preoccupations]"
. While these methods of analysis are useful
it's necessary to deviatewhen discussing the work of Godard, a director whose work is best appreciatedthrough analysis of his favoured, and so singular, formal and narrative techniques.This essay will attempt to define Godard the
with reference to two of thedirector's most influential works:
Vivre Sa Vie
(Jean-Luc Godard, 1962) and
(Jean-Luc Godard, 1963). A filmmaker who during the early stages of hiscareer was in the practice of "crediting his own name [...]
on an equal footing
withany other name or body"
,Godard, is undoubtedly, if only for the said reason, atypical
.Godard's cinema has been deemed one which "doesn't admit us easily"
, a traitmade most apparent through the use of Brechtian distanciation techniques. Thiselement of Godard's work is most evident in the aforementioned films, and isundeniably, one of his defining characteristics as an
auteur. Le Mépris,
despite itsseeming Godard's most aesthetically conformist and conventional film (his "only realattempt at a Hollywood film"
), employs an array of distancing techniques, whichserve to - in true Brechtian fashion - remove the viewer from anything reminiscent of
1 Wollen, Peter, 'The Auteur Theory' in
Auteurs and Authorship
ed. Grant, Barry Keith. Malden,Oxford and Victoria: Blackwell Publishing, 2008. p. 56.2 Aumont, Jacques, 'The Fall of the Gods: Jean-Luc Godard's
French Film: Textsand Contexts
ed. Hayward, Susan & Vincendeau, Ginette. London and New York: Routledge, 2000. p.174.3 Monaco, James,
The New Wave
. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. p. 98.4 Ibid., p. 130.1