The Image Book
Le Livre d'image
Panorama | Spotlight on France
It starts with a hand. Five fingers—one for each category of densely layered audiovisual clusters in Jean-Luc Godard’s latest unclassifiable provocation. With sundry images, texts and citations culled from classic films, newsreel footage and paintings, among other sources, the iconic director returns to the territory of his epic Histoire(s) du cinéma to meditate on the freighted, slippery notion of the image in its 21st-century context.
Awarded a "Special Palme d’Or" by the Cannes jury this year, The Image Book is as radical and uncompromising as any movie screened in that festival’s history. Apart from being a scintillating work of scholarship, Godard’s film is a sensory experience of the first order—just as tactile and immersive as his previous work, the 3D Goodbye to Language (VIFF 14). Utilizing painterly manipulations and gorgeously saturated colour, not to mention his own guttural, crackling voice, the 87-year-old filmmaker guides us through cinema history and the birth of the industry, as well as a present-day survey of the Arab world, all the while interrogating notions of representation—and the violence of that act. "To think with one’s hands"—that’s the ideal Godard puts forth, before proceeding to explore it as only he can: eccentrically, poetically, and with an eye for beauty that may be unmatched in all of cinema.