The Work of Jean-Luc Godard and Anne-Marie Miéville
Paper 219 pp.
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Jean-Luc Godard and Anne-Marie Miéville are among the most important postwar filmmakers; they have worked across forms, across media, and across countries. This book, the first to be devoted specifically to the work they did together, examines the way they expanded the possibilities of cinema by using cutting-edge video equipment in a constant search for a new kind of filmmaking.
Two Bicycles examines all of the films, videos, and television works that the two did together, and moves slowly across France and Switzerland, with detours in Quebec, Mozambique, and Palestine. Their amazingly varied body of work includes a twelve-hour television series, some experimental videos, an acclaimed feature film with Isabelle Huppert, a cigarette commercial, and much else. Overall the book shows the degree to which this work departs radically from the legacy of the French New Wave, and in many ways shows signs of having been formed by the distinct culture of Switzerland, to which Godard and Miéville returned in the 1970s to set up their “atelier,” Sonimage.
Two Bicycles offers a chance to explore a body of work that is as unique and demanding as it is rich and revelatory. Godard and Miéville have worked together for four decades but have never seemed more relevant.
Jerry White is Canada Research Chair in European Studies at Dalhousie University. He is the author of Revisioning Europe: The Films of John Berger and Alain Tanner (2011), The Radio Eye: Cinema in the North Atlantic, 1958–1988 (WLU Press, 2009), and Of This Place and Elsewhere: The Films and Photography of Peter Mettler (2006).
“This is a thoughtful, insightful, and revelatory study on a neglected subject that had new things to teach me on almost every page.”
— Jonathan Rosenbaum, author, Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia (2010), former film critic, Chicago Reader
“Most significantly, one can finally see Miéville outside of a clause with Godard, even as his partner an individual with her own artistic indentity, and an important filmmaker in her own right. Of course, much of this is accomplished implicitly, as White’s book is primarily focused on breaking down the films analytically. Indeed, Two Bicycles’ first and foremost act of demystification is firmly directed at clarifying the ideas in the work rather than emphasizing the people behind that work. White’s readings of the films are refreshingly succinct. With impressive lucidity, he is able to define the parameters of their undertakings: the context of production; Godard and Miéville’s living situation (they mostly spent time in both France and their native Switzerland, but also visited Quebec and Mozambique); and their specific interests at the time. Combining this with close inspection of the duo’s running obsessions, influences, and political engagement, White comes up with well-informed but distinctly subjective interpretations of their films.... The most considered value of Two Bicycles comes from its imposition of a segmented arc that defines the ever-changing methods and projects throughout the duo’s working history.... White articulates it with a sensitive eye and keen, clear prose, making Two Bicycles an important tool for navigating and understanding such a challenging and rewarding body of work.”
— Adam Cook, Cineaste
By the same author
Of This Place and Elsewhere: The Films and Photography of Peter Mettler, Jerry White, editor
The Legacies of Jean-Luc Godard, Douglas Morrey, Christina Stojanova, and Nicole Côté, editors