After debuting at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Jean-Luc Godard’s latest film, “The Image Book,” has been receiving rave reviews. But even after winning the Special Palme d’Or at Cannes and being selected to play at the Toronto International Film Festival and New York Film Festival, we’re not any closer to really being able to describe the film to someone.
So, with that in mind, the trailer for Godard’s film takes on the herculean effort and, for the most part, succeeds. The trailer, much like the film itself, is a collage of various clips, images, and narration, which all speak to the current state of the world and the horrors experienced over the last century. The truth is, if you like Godard’s more recent avant-garde works, then “The Image Book” is ready for you to devour. Otherwise, if this trailer isn’t enough to sell you, we’re not sure the finished film will do it for you either.
That being said, if you’re a film fan and, specifically, a fan of Jean-Luc Godard, “The Image Book” should be on your map, as it readies itself for its theatrical run.
“The Image Book” will hit select theaters beginning on January 25, 2019.
In lieu of a true synopsis (honestly, how could one actually exist), Kino Lorber shared this writing from when the film premiered at TIFF:
The legendary Jean-Luc Godard adds to his influential, iconoclastic legacy with this provocative collage film essay, a vast ontological inquiry into the history of the moving image and a commentary on the contemporary world. Winner of the first Special Palme d’Or to be awarded in the history of the Cannes Film Festival, The Image Book is another extraordinary addition to the French master’s vast filmography.
Displaying an encyclopedic grasp of cinema and its history, Godard pieces together fragments and clips them from some of the greatest films of the past, then digitally alters, bleaches, and washes them, all in the service of reflecting on what he sees in front of him and what he makes of the dissonance that surrounds him. He uses his own voice, reminiscent of those of Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan in the twilights of their careers, to guide us through the fascinating labyrinth of his mind. In some cases, it is to reflect on the metaphysical properties of the world — time, and space, and where meaning is found — but more importantly it is the image, the thing that has obsessed Godard for his entire career, that anchors this film. His ontological enquiry into the image continues to be one of the most moving in history.
But, as always with Godard, the key issues he raises have to do with the legacy of the last century and its horrors: the incomprehension of Hiroshima and Auschwitz, events that coincided with cinema but which have somehow eluded its gaze. And, movingly, The Image Book also reflects on orientalism and the Arab world, grounding the new film very much in the present. — Piers Handling, CEO/Director Toronto International Film Festival