A slightly edited version of the following essay was published to accompany a film series devoted to the favorite films of Frieda Grafe that was held in the spring of 2013 at the Arsenal in Berlin. I was also invited to Berlin to introduce the screening of Avanti! on April 28. (The next day, in response to my opening sentence, Volker Pantenburg was kind enough to email me a rough translation of Grafe’s brief remarks about Avanti! in her “Filmtips”: “AVANTI!, 1972. As in FEDORA, it is about a corpse, but here it’s more time-critical. The American Moloch is confronted with its European frontiers, the Mafia. And: the Indian summer of business men” ["business men" is written in English].). — J.R.
As someone who can’t read German, I feel more than a little frustrated that I can’t read Frieda Grafe on the subject of Avanti! But I know that she selected the film in 1995 as one of her thirty favorites — a fascinating, eccentric line-up that contains only one silent picture(Frank Capra’s The Strong Man, 1926) and only one film of the 1980s (Jacques Rozier’s Maine-Océan, 1986), to cite the first and last items on her list.… Read more »
From the Chicago Reader (October 18, 2002). — J.R.
In Praise of Love
Directed and written by Jean-Luc Godard
With Bruno Putzulu, Cecile Camp, Claude Baignieres, Remo Forlani, Audrey Klebaner, Mark Hunter, and Jeremy Lippmann.
Berthe: “When did the gaze collapse?”
Edgar: “Before TV took precedence.”
Berthe: “Took precedence over what? Current events?”
Edgar: “Over life.”
Berthe: “Yes. I feel our gaze has become a program under control. Subsidized….The image, monsieur, the only thing capable of denying nothingness, is also the gaze of nothingness on us.”
— In Praise of Love
Let feelings bring about events, not the contrary. — Robert Bresson, Notes on Cinematography, quoted in In Praise of Love
Six years ago, when Jean-Luc Godard was presenting his feature For Ever Mozart in Toronto, he described Eloge de l’amour (In Praise of Love) as his next project — a play he would stage in Switzerland. So it seems appropriate that his film with the same title opens with a young man, Edgar, planning a project called Eloge de l’amour that might be a film, a play, a novel, or an opera. (During the first hour of the film only two intertitles are used: “something” and “about love.”)
Eloge de l’amour translates literally as “eulogy of love,” but the funereal tone of the film might make “elegy” — “a song or poem expressing sorrow or lamentation, especially for one who is dead” — seem closer to the mark at first.… Read more »