Histoire(s) du cinema

Histoire(s) du cinéma

Histoire(s) du cinéma is a video project begun by Jean-Luc Godard in the late 1980s and completed in 1998. It is always referred to by its French title, because of the wordplay it implies: histoire means both "history" and "story," and the s in parentheses gives the possibility of a plural. Therefore, the phrase Histoire(s) du cinéma simultaneously means The History of Cinema, The Histories of Cinema, The Story of Cinema and The Stories of Cinema. Similar double and triple meaning, as well as puns, are a recurring motif throughout Histoire(s) and much of Godard's work.

The densest of Godard's films, Histoire(s) du cinéma is an examination of the history of the concept of cinema and how it relates to the 20th century; in this sense, it can also be considered a critique of the 20th century and how it perceives itself. The project is considered the major work of the late period of Godard's career; it is alternately described as an essay and a poem.


Histoire(s) du cinéma consists of 4 chapters, each one subdivided into two parts, making for a total of 8 episodes. The first two episodes, Toutes les histoires (1988) and Une histoire seule (1989) run 52 minutes and 48 minutes, respectively; the remaining 6 episodes, premiered 1997 - 1998, run under half an hour each.

  • Chapter 1(a) : 51 min.
    • Toutes les histoires (1988) - All the (Hi)stories
  • Chapter 1(b) : 42 min.
    • Une Histoire seule (1989) - A Single (Hi)story
  • Chapter 2(a) : 26 min.
    • Seule le cinema (1997) - Only Cinema
  • Chapter 2(b) : 28 min.
    • Fatale beauté (1997) - Deadly Beauty
  • Chapter 3(a) : 27 min.
    • La Monnaie de l’absolu (1998) - The Coin of the Absolute
  • Chapter 3(b) : 27 min.
    • Une Vague Nouvelle (1998) - A New Wave
  • Chapter 4(a) : 27 min.
    • Le Côntrole de l’univers (1998) - The Control of the Universe
  • Chapter 4(b) : 38 min.
    • Les Signes parmi nous (1998) - The Signs Among Us

Films Referenced and Quoted

Histoire(s) du cinéma is composed almost entirely of visual and auditory quotations from films, some famous and some obscure. The sources of referenced films and literary quotations are delineated chronologically by the film critic Celine Scemama, the author of Histoire(S) Du Cinema De Jean-Luc Godard: La Force Faible D'un Art.'

This is a partial list of works Godard drew upon to create the project; a complete list would number hundreds of entries.


Further reading

  • Scemama-Heard, Celine, Histoire(s) du cinéma de Jean-Luc Godard. La force faible d’un art, L’Harmattan, Paris, 2006. ISBN 2-296-00728-7

External links

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