Cahiers du Cinema: the best film magazine in the world

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Cahiers du Cinema: the best film magazine in the world

Post  eddie on Tue Oct 25, 2011 11:21 pm

Short History of Cahiers du Cinéma by Emilie Bickerton – review

The story of probably the best film magazine in the world

Nicholas Lezard
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 18 October 2011 09.00 BST


A bout de souffle … a mere two stars from Cahiers du Cinéma for Jean-Luc Godard's film. Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive

Why should we be interested in the history of a moribund French-language film magazine with perhaps 10 readers in Britain? Because it's the most important film magazine in the history of the world, that's why. And it's not moribund, either. (The magazine was relaunched after this book was completed.)


A Short History of Cahiers du Cinéma
by Emilie Bickerton

But the claim as to its importance cannot be gainsaid. In this country we say the most nasty things about the French intellectual, but there are times when he (it's usually he) spits on his hands and, in the absence of anyone else doing things the way he wants to see them done, gets to work. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the case of Cahiers du Cinéma. Jean-Luc Godard, Eric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol, François Truffaut and (my favourite, although if anyone wants to get me a boxed set of Chabrol for Christmas I will be delighted) Jacques Rivette, all on the editorial board in the mid-1950s, went on, in their various ways, to blow cinema wide open; if Hollywood has been slow to appreciate the genius of, say, Rivette's Céline et Julie vont en bâteau (to me, one of the most extraordinary films ever made; to the vast majority of my compatriots, an incomprehensible, overlong bore), then at least there is always the hope that its innovations will continue to percolate through to the mainstream in due course, rather than all at once.

In France there were films which leapt on to the New Wave bandwagon pretty sharpish – but as this book informs us, the magazine was scathing about film-makers who adopted the signature techniques without anything more than a superficial understanding of what inspired them in the first place. You might think that watching a cut between Alain Delon's face and a swordfish in a Sicilian market stall in René Clément's Plein soleil is no more pointless than any equivalent in A bout de souffle, but the writers of Cahiers could have told you otherwise, and why. The camera in the latter is allowed "to roll and roll and roll, always in tempo with the mind of the protagonist …"

Another great thing about the French, and a great compensation for what a French person rather surprisingly described to me recently as their relative lack of sense of humour, is the way they go hammer and tongs at it when there's an intellectual spat. Another publication, Positif, was very nasty indeed about the New Wave – and the quote that Emilie Bickerton uses to illustrate this is wickedly accurate, even if you like the New Wave. (She also points out that Cahiers itself only gave A bout de souffle two stars out of a possible four. There is something oddly comforting about that.)

One does not want to romanticise the past, of course. One can readily imagine what a grim experience reading Cahiers would have been in the early 70s, after years of increasing radicalisation and engagement with increasingly arcane varieties of socialism (the flirtation – no, marriage – with Maoism being the most revolting): "By 1973 the journal would be almost unrecognisable, transformed into an austere, thick booklet with no photographs and making scant reference to film, instead mapping out the urgent strategies to be undertaken on the 'cultural front' … Editors now operated in an arena of cultural struggle which they had partly fabricated, espousing Marxist-Leninist slogans at every turn." True, around that time in France everyone was up to this kind of thing, or reacting to it, but by the time the magazine chaired a miserable failure of a meeting in Avignon that year – and with the circulation through the floor – even the editors realised the gig was up.

Since then the magazine has been in two minds, going slightly crazy wondering whether to tell its readers to see Jurassic Park or the worthy Germinal, plumping for the latter against its historic tendency to praise Hollywood. But at least the magazine, when it was good (and it may well be so again) had the balls to stick up not only for ideas about cinema and how to watch it, but about the very idea of ideas in general. Which we just don't do.
What did you think?

© 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.


eddie
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Re: Cahiers du Cinema: the best film magazine in the world

Post  Guest on Tue Oct 25, 2011 11:39 pm

eddie wrote:(She also points out that Cahiers itself only gave A bout de souffle two stars out of a possible four. There is something oddly comforting about that.)
Why?
I heard that that movie isn't really a good one, that's all about how it was recorded... very dinamic. But I like the movie itself.

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Re: Cahiers du Cinema: the best film magazine in the world

Post  Yakima Canutt on Sun Oct 30, 2011 7:48 pm

Whenever I get so riled by the French that I vow never to consume another croque-monsieur, well, then I remember that the Les Caheers aux Cinemar is the only prominent flim publication to include the unfairly shat upon MISSION TO MARS and SNAKE EYES on their annual TOP TEN FLIM LIST (Prix Annuel des Dix Grands). The franco toads act like USA is worth less than a muleskinner's rucksack, and then they go on and on about how the most moving shit they ever seen was Ward Bond in THE WAGON-MASTER and SNAKE EYES starring Nicolas Cage. Ha. BTW, the Revolution of 1830 was a fucking joke.

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Re: Cahiers du Cinema: the best film magazine in the world

Post  Yakima Canutt on Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:43 pm



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Re: Cahiers du Cinema: the best film magazine in the world

Post  Yakima Canutt on Sat Apr 06, 2013 6:04 pm

chuser wrote: (Prix Annuel des Dix Grands). Ward Bond in THE WAGON-MASTER and SNAKE EYES starring Power~Mann. BTW, the Revolution of 1830 was the real rhapsody in the drain, rite


To wit... easily the most acclaimed Argentine auteur flimmaker based in EL FRANCE, Gaspar Noé, has recently wrapped up his most accomplished year to date, and in a rare momento of relaxation and sur la levity, Gaspar Noé serenades the heavens and also sarinades the Cobra Phases Group of runny cheese reality.






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