Four years in the making, Jean-Luc Godard’s The Image Book is almost without narrative constraints, akin to the series of collage films of his epic Histoire(s) du cinéma (1988–98). This bracing and confrontational essay in five parts absorbs clips from cinema and reportage, and examines themes that have preoccupied the auteur for decades: emotion stunted by capitalism; the persistence of violence and war; the flattening of language by advertising; and the media’s dehumanisation portrayals of the Middle East.
Bursts of narrative spoken by Godard himself span philosophical debate and political ideology, and rupture any expectations of audio-visual logic. Erasing the distinction between the fiction films he cites – which include Jean Vigo’s L’Atalante, Gus Van Sant’s Elephant and many of Godard’s own – and newsreels and internet clips, The Image Book positions the moving image as both investigator and proof of the human capacity for horror.
The Image Book, Dir. Jean-Luc Godard, France/Switzerland, 2018, 85 mins, English, Arabic and French with English subtitles