What you (may have) missed on 3:AM this week:
Reviewed: Max Dunbar on Alex McBride’s Defending the Guilty; Richard Marshall on the latest Semina text, The Dark Object by Katrina Palmer; John Barker on the new edition of Alexander Baron’s King Dido; Karl Whitney on Emilie Bickerton’s A Short History of Cahiers du cinéma:
An editor at New Left Review, Emilie Bickerton here provides a pithy, critically acute, history of the legendary film journal Cahiers du cinéma. The journal was the home of François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, et al, in the late 1950s, during the period in which they developed a critical understanding of cinema, one which they would go on to refine in the films they made as directors.
Cahiers has always been inextricably connected with this period, when the nouvelle vague crashed against the shores of French cinema and the possibility of an exciting new kind of film emerged. Truffaut’s The 400 Blows and Godard’s Breathless, both debut features, still stand as totems of the movement. The main critical foci of this period, the concept of the director as auteur, and the emphasis on mise en scène, continue to be thought of as specifically Cahiers-type obsessions.
‘It was the last modernist project’, Bickerton writes of Cahiers. And it is the journal’s latter-day withdrawal from this wider project that Bickerton rejects, emphasising its complicity with consumer capitalism, and decrying the films celebrated by Cahiers in later years as inauthentic exercises in style that only gesture towards the vaguest notions of the auteur period. Ultimately, the present-day publication is dismissed as ‘just another banal mouthpiece of the spectacle’.
First posted: Sunday, August 22nd, 2010.