Thursday, May 25 • – 3
In his extensive body of work spanning over six decades, Jean-Luc Godard experimented with various film color technologies and the chromatic medium. His films from the 1960s and 1970s exhibit blocks of vivid color and images created with filters that bathe in primary hues. Case in point, when the French film journal Cahiers du cinéma interviewed Godard in 1965, they remarked, “On voit beaucoup de sang dans Pierrot le fou” (We see a lot of blood in Pierrot le fou). Godard’s response to this observation is often quoted: “Pas du sang, du rouge.”
If this response, “It’s not blood; it’s red,” is still compelling, it is partly because the images it evokes challenge the logic of how color, or the chromatic medium, should operate within a given narrative. Indeed, in Godard’s later cinematic projects and digital video essays—such as Histoire(s) du cinéma (1988), Éloge de l’amour (2001), and Le Livre d’image (2018)—we witness the dissolution of vivid colors, pixelized and distorted by oversaturation. Without doubt, then, Godard employs the chromatic medium as a Brechtian means to provoke distanciation effects.
However, I would propose that his use of color may also serve to highlight some provocative connections between aesthetics and politics. By examining Godard’s inspiration drawn from various sources—including comic books and colorful Hollywood musicals—as well as delving into the history of color in Western philosophical thought, this presentation will explore the numerous possibilities and ambiguous and complex trajectories that colors take in Godard’s work.
Tamara Tasevska is an affiliated faculty member at Baruch College-CUNY. Her work focuses on French film in postwar and postcolonial contexts. She is currently working on her first book, Color-Images: Chromatic Innovations and Multiplicity of Worlds in French Cinema and Fiction.