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VIDEO ESSAY: Godard VS Benny Hill

VIDEO ESSAY: Godard VS Benny Hill

For many people, watching Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless is a rite of cultural passage; so, too, is watching The Benny Hill Show, though of a slightly different sort. One is a touchstone for knowledge of film history; the other is what many might call a “guilty pleasure.” One is ideally watched on a large screen, in a dark theater; the other can only be watched on a small screen and most likely late at night, before one collapses to sleep exhausted. One is a mixture of love story, farce, and cultural commentary; the other is mostly farce, with some sexual humor thrown in, and negligible cultural commentary. One is a ground-breaking cinematic experiment; the other features a lot of things breaking (wind, glasses, windows, plates, chairs), but not much in the way of ground. Whatever the similarities or differences, Miklos Kiss has sped up the entirety of Breathless and compressed it into an 11-minute video essay, just long enough for the theme of The Benny Hill Show to play. And….. it works, kind of. The zippiness of the French film is there, at any speed, and the liveliness of the Hill theme is a nice match for it. What do you think?  

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