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Watch: Jean-Luc Godard Explains Why He Skipped Cannes Press Conference

Watch: Jean-Luc Godard Explains Why He Skipped Cannes Press Conference

Rather than writing a simple letter to explain his absence from the press conference for his latest Cannes entry, “Goodbye to Language,” at the Cannes Film Festival today, instead, legendary filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard created a video “Letter in motion to (Cannes president) Gilles Jacob and (artistic director) Thierry Fremaux.”

The video intercuts from Godard speaking cryptically about his “path” to key scenes from Godard classics such as “Alphaville” and “King Lear” with Burgess Meredith and Molly Ringwald, and quotes poet Jacques Prevert and philosopher Hannah Arendt.

You can see the video in motion below, but we’ve translated the key bits for you as well:

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 no longer 1923, and I’m not longer the man who fought through the police barricades, 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.

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 tab 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, 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

READ MORE: Jean-Luc Godard’s Baffling Hilarious “Goodbye to Language” Will Mess With Your Head — and Your Eyes

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Another correction to the letter's first paragraph:
Godard says he is now "under the protection of the strange Ecclesiastes", not "film enthusiasts" :)
The letter goes on: " whispering that what will be has been done". It seems he's referring to Ecclesiastes, 1:9: "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun."


Not just any black and white film, but The Chase (1946), directed by Arthur Ripley, based on a the novel, The Black Path of Fear by Cornell Woolrich.


Before Rivette, I think, is Jean Renoir.


Couple of slight corrections: the scenes with Lemmy Caution are from 'Germany Year 90 nine zero,' and I think in the later part he is saying something along the lines of, 'I think, with him, that the possibility of explaining has always seemed to me the only excuse for the existence of language.'

Also, the picture right before Truffaut is Jacques Rivette. I'm not sure who is in the first picture in that sequence, but it seems likely it would be someone else from the New Wave. That part – images of those friends coupled with that voice-over – is quite moving.


Why explain himself? Why care? That's the bit don't get. What the hell does he owe us? He gave us Breathtless, A Woman is a Woman, Vivre sa vie, Pierrot, Bande à part, Alphaville… I don't think he owes anyone an explanation for not showing up.


Real answer: "i've nothing of merit since the sixties"

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