A Short History of Cahiers Du Cinema

Jonathan Romney writes:

In an essay on Avatar in the March issue of the French film journal Cahiers du cinéma, Slavoj Žižek wrote that, despite its superficial espousal of revolutionary action (by blue-skinned aliens rising up against earthling exploitation), the film was in fact entirely reactionary. In an interview in the following issue of Cahiers, Žižek cheerfully admitted that he had written his piece without actually seeing Avatar. Empiricist Anglophone critics were horrified, no doubt, but Žižek’s article persuasively made its point nonetheless. This reminded me of something that a one-time Cahiers linchpin, Serge Daney, wrote in 1992, recalling a formative influence on his criticism. In the Cahiers of June 1961, Jacques Rivette – yet to attain his eminence as a leading director of the Nouvelle Vague – reviewed Kapò, a film by Gillo Pontecorvo about the concentration camps. Rivette took exception to a tracking shot in the film, showing a woman who had killed herself. For him, the intrusive camera movement was a serious moral trespass: ‘The man who decides at this moment to track forward and reframe the dead body in a low-angle shot … deserves only the most profound contempt.’

(LRB 9 September 2010)

Other Titles of Interest