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Godard Excuses Himself from Cannes with “Letter in Motion to Gilles Jacob and Thierry Fremaux

More than half a century since Breathless, Godard still enjoys his fair share of devotees despite a descent into overwrought provocations. Rather than field befuddled questions following the premiere of his 3-D talking dog opus Goodbye to Language after its Cannes premiere this morning, the filmmaker recused himself from promotion with the above. Opening with the official seal of “Khan Khanne,” the “Letter in Motion to Gilles Jacob and Thierry Fremaux,”  fashions clips from Godard’s own work, asides from Hannah Arendt, and ruminations on these “other worlds” he now inhabits. I began trying to draw out what little French I understand before noticing that Indiewire had translated the clip in its entirety. You can find that below, and the short “letter” up top.

My dear President, dear festival director and dear colleagues,

Once again, I thank you for inviting me to the festival, but you know I haven’t taken part in film distribution for a long time, and I’m not where you think I am.  Actually, I’m following another path. I’ve been inhabiting other worlds, sometimes for years, or for a few seconds, under the protection of film enthusiasts; I’ve gone and stayed.

[Cut to a scene of Eddie Constantine as Lemmy Caution in “Alphaville]

Eddie Constantine/Lemmy Caution:  “I don’t feel comfortable in this environment anymore.  It’s not longer 1923, and I’m not longer the man who fought through the police bridges, the man who fought behind the scenes with a gun in my hand.  Feeling alive was more important than Stalin and the Revolution.”

The risk of solitude is the risk of losing oneself, assumes the philosopher because he assumes the truth is to wonder about metaphysical questions, which are actually the only ones the everyone’s asking.  The philosopher’s logic is to ask whether there’s any way to hold back “the other;” this is what we call “Logic.”

[Scene from Godard’s “King Lear” with Burgess Meredith and Molly Ringwald, in English]

Molly Ringwald/Cordelia to King Lear: “I don’t have my heart in my mouth.” (in English)

[Cut to Godard speaking in present day]

I don’t have my heart in my mouth anymore, either.

So, I’m going where the wind blows me, (still of Francois Truffaut with a camera) just like autumn leaves as they blow away (this is from the famous poem by Jacques Prevert”)

Last year for example, I took the tramway, which is a metaphor, the metaphor and…

[White words on black screen: CUBA, yes]

[La Havane bar in Paris in a black and white film]

….to return, to return to pay my dues from 1968 at the Havana Bar…and now, I believe that the possibility of explaining things is the only excuse to fight with language…as always, I believe it’s not possible…this 21st May…this is no longer a film (note to author: Ceci n’est plus un film- hommage to Magritte) but a simple waltz, my president, [Leonard Cohen, “Take this Waltz” sample along with a brief clip of Bob Dylan’s voice sampled] to find the true balance with one’s near destiny.


Jean-Luc Godard


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