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Jean Luc Godard’s Histoire du Cinema

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Jean-Luc Godard’s  Histoire(s) du Cinéma or Memory of the world

 

Lecture presented by Dr Laleen Jayamanne (University of Sydney) at the Australian Cinémathèque, Gallery of Modern Art, Wednsday 29 August 2007,  as part of the Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du Cinéma program.

 

In Memory of K.K. Mahajan (1)


I would like to begin (as a good Australian citizen), with an anecdote I heard when I visited the Queensland Art Gallery for the 5th Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art earlier this year.  Julie Ewington, the Head of Australian Art at the Gallery, recalled a tutorial in the Department of Fine Arts at University of Sydney in the early 1970s, where the discussion turned to what they would like to do after university. One student had said that he would like to make films. Ah, a sentimental bloke! The class had laughed because it was, at the time, an unthinkable thought that there could be an Australian film industry. That student’s name was Phil Noyce who went on to make News Front 1978,  and many other films beside, which included directing unknown young actors such as Nicole Kidman and Sam Neil.

 

I begin with this anecdote to highlight the at times robust links that have existed between institutions such as the university, the museum/archive and the cinematic public sphere in Australia, and also to emphasise the need to nurture and strengthen these links to maximise the development of what Meaghan Morris calls “aesthetic skills”. (2)  Perhaps “developing” could be understood in a filmic sense as in developing exposed film in a chemical bath, which need not be an instrumental process but one where organic and non-organic processes are entwined.  Remember celluloid? Remember to remember celluloid! Cellulose the material stuff out of which celluloid is manufactured is derived from cotton. So cloth and celluloid may be thought of as civilisational material, which has clothed our bodies and senses for a long, long time. The Australian Cinémathèque (by its very existence), sustain, enhance and indeed ‘develop’ memory by being embedded in an aesthetic milieu which collects and exhibits art.

 

Jean-Luc Godard’s epic project, Histoire(s) du Cinéma 1988—98also shows an exemplary linkage between these key institutions. It began as a lecture series delivered at the University of Montreal, Canada. The original invitation to deliver a series of lectures on the history of cinema was extended to Henri Langlois in 1978, the legendary founder of the Cinémathèque Francaise. Because he died before being able to deliver it, Godard, for whom Langlois was a mentor, was invited to take his place. Having delivered the lectures dissatisfied with the limitations of the lecture format he began the video essay version in 1988, which was completed in 1998. So it is a project which spanned twenty years; his poetic tribute to the art form of the 20th century.  I think of it as Godard’s contribution to the ‘Memory of the World’, to borrow UNESCO’s platform for the preservation of the fragile audio-visual heritage of mankind.  Since its completion it has been broadcast on European television, screened at the tenth Documenta, released on VHS and adapted into a book accompanied by a collection of multilingual audio CDs. But it is the release of Gaumont’s fully subtitled video restoration, transferred on to digital betacam tape that has made its Australian Cinémathèque screening possible at last in 2007. Structured into four chapters, each divided into two parts, it is four and a half hours long.

 

Where to begin? But then it was Godard who responded to an exasperated critic’s bewilderment, that his films didn’t have a beginning, middle and an end, with, ‘they do, but not necessarily in that order’. The very first shot of Histoire(s) du Cinéma certainly begins in the middle of film history, with a shot of a man with a camera, not a movie camera, but a still camera, with a telephoto lens, held at a little distance from his eye. The shot is in slow motion so we see his anxious eyeballs moving from side to side. It is a tight shot of Jimmy Stewart from Hitchcock’s Rear Window 1954, hooked on to a screen, so to speak; a surrogate for us, the spectators. I shall proceed, not with this image, but with two ideas about the museum and film. Raúl Ruiz, the baroque allegorical filmmaker says that he sees the whole world as a museum. He takes this pathological melancholy perception into the very heart of creating his cinematic images as baroque-allegories that might withstand the ceaseless erosion of time.  Jean-Luc Godard says that he was ‘born in the museum’ and it is evident that this genesis determines decisively the cinematic image he creates. For Godard it seems that Langlois’s Cinémathèque Francaise was both womb and world in one, while André Malraux’s book Museum Without Walls (1947) offered a way of thinking art and the history of art as they are transformed by the invention of photography in the 19th Century - the technologies of mass-reproduction. Ruiz (Chillean) and Godard (Swiss), both working in France, do not lament the museum’s power nor are they consumed by critique of that institution, but rather, draw out from this milieu singular powers of invention.  They are hyper reflexive image-makers, aware of their tools, materials and institutions, creating modes of address ceaselessly, aware also of the fragility of the cinematic image within the inflationary, market driven image scape, which is our abode. Thierry de Duve said it well, ‘Godard is the Manet of film, unless Manet is the Godard of painting’. (3) Godard and Ruiz are well aware that a certain kind of cinema (including theirs) now needs the museum as a refuge. (4) Manet was very aware of the masses entering the museum and of painting for the public Salons. For them the fragility of the image is addressed to processes of the human sensorium, which are felt as being also fragile. So much so that, it feels as though film (which has rewired our sensorium) should also be classified by UNESCO, as being part of the ‘intangible heritage of mankind’; a platform for the protection of the civilizational performing arts of the world, such as Noh (Japan), and Koodyattam (India).

 

Godard’s conception of history as many (hi)stories does not of course harbour an encyclopaedic ambition. After all, in a film of his, Godard made gentle fun of the encyclopaedic ambitions of Gaustave Flaubert’s unfinished novel Bouvard and Pecuchet (1881) reading just a sentence from any and every book, piling them up so high that they were buried in them. Godard’s is a videographic ‘history’ of cinema, which would not have been feasible on film. So film and video are no longer Cain and Abel, as Godard once said; instead, they rescue each other from oblivion in a kind of ‘will-to-art’  (Kunstwollen). (5) With singular restraint Godard uses just a hand full of video special effects (out of an available large range), such as over-printing, flash-shots, which create a strobe like effect, iris shots, to paint a poetic history with images from the film archive. These images retrieved from the archive are virtualised, rendering the material archive itself a virtual sphere (in the Bergsonian sense), from which new relations of images and sounds are drawn.  This craft of painting film-images with video will be taken up later in relation to Godard’s idea of the cinematic image as well as his ideas of selection, sequencing and the interval.

 
A Political Framework

Godard is a republican and as such he accepts the three political slogans of the French revolution which began the modern era; Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. But as a film maker who never accepted inherited rules he sought to make his images the true heirs of the Enlightenment, striving to make them free, equal and fraternal. He strove/strives to not let ‘film’s most intimate enemy’, money, dictate terms to the image; he refuses the equation time=money, refuses the master-slave relation between the image and money which is the basis for a new freedom of the image from Taylorised, chronologised, monetarised and militarised forms of cinematic composition. Kumar Shahani’s comment, ‘It is chronology, not narrative, that we have to abandon’, rings true. (6) Equality is actively sought between all components of sound and image so that one is not a slave to the other and no One is at the centre and thus the idea of centripetal focus disperses into a multiple awareness of the optical and the sonic in their spatio-temporal complexity.  Images thus freed and equalised can achieve modes of transversal, non-filial contact or brotherhood inconceivable in a cinema focused on a gun and a girl; Godard’s short-hand for Hollywood cinema’s globally marketable, iconic, image-cliches.  

 

A Mythic Framework

If Godard is a republican in his direction of the realm of the fluid signs of cinema, it may strike as odd that he invokes the Christian archive of art, with its stories or myths of birth, death and resurrection of the body and motifs of shroud and veil and affects of passion, mourning, grace and revelation. He even goes so far as to draw an analogy between Christianity and cinema in their capacity to induce belief. Christianity, he says, told a story of a birth, death and resurrection of a body and said, believe! Film gives us images of movement, death, love, which have the power to kindle belief, he adds. And to top it all he takes on the role of a prophet rather than the priest, crying, whispering, shouting in the wilderness of images, and then goes silent. His mode of address, in its awareness of the addressee, the second person, takes on a tremendous range of tones, speaking to the image as much as to us, as Thierry de Duve imagines Manet painted his Dead Christ and the Angels 1864 (also known as Christ Among the Angels) for the 1864 Salon. It is by the invocation of the traditionally sacred images of western culture, in a secular market-driven context, that Godard is able to tap into a mythical time so as to by-pass history (of cinema) as chronology. Through this by-pass operation Godard is able to invest the retrieved images with value, what he, enigmatically calls ‘currency of the absolute’.

 

Bergsonian Mobile Frame (7)

Lets remember that the first book Godard takes off his bookshelf, next to the typewriter he is at for most of the film, is Henri Bergson’s Matter and Memory 1896. The typewriter, (remember the electric typewriter?) on the brink of obsolescence, produces a machine-gun like metrical beat – creating a violent, urgent pulse for the ‘stories without words, stories of the night’ – no longer told by a ‘camera stylo’,yet sustaining the dream of a secret rapport between the now very distant hand and eye. The resonant, paced, voicing of the Bergsonian title by Godard himself adds a rhythm, thus signalling to our ears the unchaining of time, from its enchainment in machined-metrical-chronology, which is a precondition for the work of investment of the mobile image with the “currency of the absolute” - time as Bergsonian duration, I take it. This is time as coexistence of a present that passes and a past that subsists and insists; the scission of time, as Deleuze glossed it and Godard makes us feel with lightning speeds and the excessive slowness, with movements and rests of the images and sounds. 

 

To beckon without signs: ‘stories without words, stories of the night’.

Charles Chaplin’s ‘neurasthenic photogenie’ (the mark of his universal iconicity) jumps in and out across the series, giving an ‘invertebrate spine’ to the protean cinematic images. But that which really invests the retrieved archival images with a power to beckon (unlike the linguistically coded sign) is a quite different conception of the power of signs. Such signs intimate fluctuations and vibrations of the image; intensity, derailing habitual recognition.  These temporal forces are harnessed in many ways, including through the creation of intervals eloquently manifested by a recurrent iris shot of strips of unexposed, negative film scattered on a luminous white surface, as well as through the editing strategies of creating silence and intervals as replete voids in Histoire(s) itself. Intensive signs and replete emptiness of the intervals are means of reinvestment of the image from the ‘other side of time’, away from mythical (circular) time, as well as from time as arrow or chronology. This brings us to the unique Godardian temporal sequence, of time as series, which is neither circular nor arrow-like. It is, I think, an idea of the series as alogical, inclusive-disjunction or divergence. The shot of the unexposed fragments of celluloid referred to above (a sign also, I feel, of the refusal to accept the archive as black hole) is a testimony to “all the stories never told”. Stroheim’s perpetually inconsolable expression appears as emblem of this martyrdom that many great filmmakers have had to endure.  And yes, there are great filmmakers and they do matter for Godard’s conception of Histoire(s), just as the footage of the Nazi death camps and the anonymous old black and white newsreel films of soldiers (alive and dead), of the two World Wars matter. It is for these reasons that for him the film screen is both shroud and Veronica’s veil; our chance to mourn and our chance to rekindle and re-enchant our perception and thereby our power to think.

 

To Call

To beckon or call without coded signs implies that a sign’s appearance as a manifestation with a revelatory power can happen at any time, in any place, and any which how. It is not signalled, it appears unannounced; testimony to the power of contingency in cinema, the richness of the multiplicity of its signs and of our power to respond to them. Classical continuity editing with its coded signs create organic memory through parallel editing, cross-cutting, shot-reverse-shot, point-of-view, alternation and convergence. In contrast, with modern cinema, to which the enterprise of Histoire(s)belongs, this system of stable perception is lost, and with it the function of the interval as linkage or bridge too is lost. ‘Given one image another is called forth’ and the bridge has to be invented by an aesthetic will (kunstwollen) as force. A force which is powered by memory and imagination. Not memory as organic function but memory as a power of connectivity across an abyss; a point of bifurcation as well. This conception of memory is like ‘growing’ or developing an ear to hear time and eyes to feel imperceptible micro-movements, insensible modulations, unendurable vibrations and to be able to connect them across the different senses that are usually kept separated and hierarchised. This is how I interpret Morris’ notion of aesthetic skilling, referred to earlier. As Paola Marrati says, this is not to fetishise aesthetic experience but rather to understand that “the purely affective, or qualitative, nature of becoming has no easily traceable archive outside the realm, precisely, of art”, (8) so without it we are depleted.  Godard’s turn towards literature and painting and music (civilizational material, all), has a long history but in Histoire(s) he makes the soldiers of World War I, in all their misery, walk on the earth ploughed by the violent strokes of Van Gough’s mad brush. He attempts to make those forgotten old film fragments, embodying ‘the arrival of the people into history’ (if only to be photographed and die on the battlefields), speak to us without words, ploughing strange furrows in our brains.  And a voice (Godard’s) intones: ‘…this time alone, the only veritable popular art form rejoins painting, that is art - that is, what is reborn from what was burned’. These words are heard over footage of inmates of a concentration camp, in striped prison clothes playing Bach to the commandants in uniform, while an astonished Rembrandt looks on with startled eyes overprinted on the shot which fade into a light blue play of light on water painted by Monet.

 

In Godard’s project of painting film with video, video editing as well as Godard’s own voice share the primary function that the ‘free-indirect-subjective-camera’ had in creating a ‘cinema of poetry’ (which included Godard and Michelangelo Antonioni’s work of the 1960s), as theorised by Pier Paolo Pasolini. At the very beginning of Histoire(s), Godard quotes a Bressonian aphorism which he has internalised himself; ‘Don’t show every side of things. Allow yourself a margin of indefiniteness’ And a method of creating optical and sonic signs as image crystals is used when Godard makes one image bleed and eat into another. This act of decomposition through video editing is different from the cinematic dissolve of classical cinema. One of the characteristics of the crystalline image (a composite of a virtual and an actual image) as defined by Deleuze, is its paradoxical ability to create opaque and limpid facets in an image circuit . This paradoxical power of crystalline faceting is one way in which Godard renders the archival images virtual in the Bergsonian sense, which also has Bressonian resonance. This is a skill of intensification of perception through rhythmic decomposition and recomposition of two images or sounds, in an embryonic register; embryonic is to be understood as a ceaseless (repetitive), potential of differentiation and emergence – both clear and obscure at once.

 

The following are a few of the neural networks fired by Godard’s Histoire(s):

1.  The two images that come to mind and stay imprinted, like the one on Veronica’s cloth, is the close-up of Giulietta Masina face, as the female clown Gelsomina, in Fellini’s La Strada 1960. It is the scene where Gelsomina looks (with her painted clown face and large eyes) at the bedridden child who does not smile. When a funny walk a la Chaplin fails to elicit a response, Gelsomina stops trying to be funny and simply looks, in a large close-up, at the child with the strange neckless-head and expression and words fail to describe what transpires there; a story without words, for sure. So Godard transports Masina’s luminous face in close-up, back into Rosselini’s Germany Year Zero 1946, to witness, like Veronica, the moment of young Edmund’s suicide, by jumping off a bombed out building. The two images are overprinted so that Gelsomina the female clown testifies, in a barely perceptible image as veil, to two qualities of the new cinematic image being born on the rubble of Germany in year zero; unbearable weight (of a child’s suicide after euthanasic patricide), and unbelievable lightness (of a female clown) – gravity and grace, both at once.   Ah! But don’t forget, it is no longer Germania, but EUROPA… ANNO ZERO, which complicates any associative residue between these two images from the great moment of Italian cinema. It is now a matter of forging a rapport between images that are very far apart, like for example, our eyes and hands. So we have a Godardian parable or riddle accompanying (in the Bressonian sense), these two images, in voice-over:

 

“Do you have two hands? asks the blind man. But looking won’t reassure me. Why trust my eyes, if I have doubts. Why check my eyes to see whether I see my hands”. It is this rune which makes one register Gelsomina’s hands cradling her own face and the over printed image of young Edmund as well. And in turn then one re-sees Edmund’s gesture of touching his eyes, which shut on contact with his hand. Hands that were previously invisible, thereby come into a strange visibility and legibility in relation to vision; the hands of a female clown and that of a child. One remembers Adorno’s insightful essay on Chaplin about the mimetic link between the figure of the child and clown and animal too. The overprinting of the two images, the speeding up of one to almost a flicker of Gelsomina’s face and the brief step printing of the other, a painting of film with video rhythms one might say, and the emphatic orchestral music at the appearance of the graphics ‘(EUROPA)… ANNO ZERO’ creates a thick image. This audio/visual density is a sign of the conceptual multiplicity of the sequence as well. Right across Histoire(s) there is an impassioned exploration of the vicissitudes of the relationship between the human eye and the hand in relation to tools and thinking. One of Godard’s aphorisms on this is tantalising and instructive: ‘Spirit is only true when it manifests itself. The root of ‘manifest’ is the word ‘hand’’.

 

2.  The projector sees the filmstrip, pulled by claws through the gate, as a series of strobe effects, a shuddering, pulsed at 24 frames per second. When this instrument is turned onto our faces in Histoire(s) we are blinded like Paul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. And as we lie blinded by the light, a strobe-like effects is projected on to us so that we must lay down our gaze or be susceptible to an epileptic seizure. These blinding visions are a precondition for being able to see the archival images and return like Larzarus from the dead as a voice (Godard’s) intones: ‘How marvellous to be able to look at what our eyes can not see. What a miracle for our blind eyes!’

 

3.  A sense of the miraculous and the mysterious is heightened in a dialogue constructed like a rune found in some mystical text, the Kabala perhaps, heard over the ordination of nuns in Bresson’s Angels of Sin  1943:

Woman: Sir, do you know the ten historical propositions about the Old Testament?
(A song is heard in a female operatic voice)
Man: No.
Woman: Scholem’s text says a tradition exists concerning the truth and that it is transmissible. I laugh. The truth in question here has many properties - being transmissible is not one of them.
Man: What are you talking about? I don’t see.
Woman: “I don’t see”!
CUT TO BLACK
Very well put.
And yet I saw him.
No! Heard him.

Histoire(s) is composed, painted with a faith in the transmissibility of the images/sounds of cinema; stories without words, stories of the night.  Faith in the power of thought activated by the cinematic gap or abyss between the seeable and the sayable. Scholem must surely be Walter Benjamin’s friend who opened the Kabala to him as a counterpoint to the instrumental rationalism of Marxism. The sense of mystery is a lure to make us think with our senses, not a mechanism for irrational submission. Godard intones: ‘I will not denigrate our tools. But I’d like them usable. If it is true that the danger is not in our tools but in the weakness of our hands, a thought which abandons itself to the rhythms of its own mechanisms proletarianizes itself.’ The image, which accompanies this, is that of a man enfolding a child in his arms and running with a woman in a step-printed motion, while looking at us, across a desolate street, as though they expect to be shot at any instant. It is the halting, step-printed rhythm that propels the viewer to make a connection between these two disjunct op and son signs as best one could.

 

4. Glauber Rocha stands with his arms outstretched at a crossroad in the middle of no-where in Godard’s Dziga Vertov film, Wind From the East 1969, while a pregnant woman with a camera looks around in the bush. Some one asked, ‘Which way to political cinema?’

 

5. Ida Lupino sits beside a 35mm camera in the director’s chair, at the very beginning of Histoire(s), very close to Jimmy Stewart, but they are so far from each other.  Lupino who entered Hollywood in the 1930s as an actress in her teens became a writer, producer and director, the only woman in 1950s Hollywood to do so, and also continued her acting career as well, starring in Fritz Lang’s While the City Sleeps 1956.

 

6. The perfectly hysterical woman falls backwards with her arms lifted high (over her long head of hair), into the arms of the director in a splendid histrionic gesture in front of a blank white screen and is cured. No talking cure, this!

 

7. So, Godard turns and returns to Bazin’s question, What is Cinema? With a response, ‘RIEN’ (nothing), over-printed on mutilated corpses and the tortured priest from Rome, Open City (Rosselini, 1945). After which he shows us the most sustained continuous sequence in Histoire(s), his tribute to Italian Neorealism and the modern Italian cinema, concluding with a shot of Pasolini in dark glasses over-printed with ‘UNE PENSEE QUI FORME (A THOUGHT THAT FORMS)’. He of course takes liberties with the ‘sequence-shot’ to give certain moments greater poignancy. But Bazin would surely have forgiven him because the continuity is now elsewhere. We hear it in the lyrics of the marvellous song celebrating the relationship between the new Italian cinema and the Italian language. It is a tremendous celebration of the language of ‘Ovid, of Virgil, Leopardi, and of Dante’, in making its way into the cinematic image; ‘a form that thinks’.

 

8.  TO STAND, TO SIT, TO FALL, TO TURN AND RETURN…These too are cinema, no? Banal movements that film alone renders ceaselessly embryonic and astonishing.

 

9. And I wondered, where, oh! where is Mac Sennett ? :

Mac
C’est
Nett 

There he is! Clear - direct.

And there he is, finally bare bodied, sporting a visor, now typing, now conducting invisible stuff so that one would have to say that in playing the role of modern prophet of cinema (‘what was cinema?’) he also becomes the modern version of the archaic holy fool, a clown. One who becomes a clown can no longer put on that tired old mask of the happy or sad visage. However, one who becomes a clown now must, like Chaplin or Masina, transpose unendurable weight into lightness, humour perhaps; one may now also use all the resources of the human voice, especially silence.

 

10.  At first we had the hysteric, then the rare female clown and now Manet’s women, who inaugurated modern painting and cinema, according to both de Duve and Godard. An image of Godard standing smoking in his recording studio is rhythmically overprinted with images of Manet’s famous women, models famous for their interrogating look, inter-cut with black spaces. What makes this sequence into a rune rather than a piece of received art historical wisdom is the commentary and the editing which forges a rapport between cinema and painting:
 ‘I was holding a book, Manet by Georges Bataille. Manet’s women seem to say: ‘I know what you’re thinking’. Probably because until Manet – Malraux taught me this – inner reality was more subtle, than the cosmos. The famous pale smiles of Da Vinci and Vermeer first say, ‘Moi, Moi’. The world comes after. Even Corot’s Woman in Pink doesn’t think. (JE SAI A QUOI TU PENSES, I know what you are thinking): the thoughts of Olympia, of Bertha Morisot, of the Folies-Bergere barmaid. Because finally, the world within has opened out to the cosmos. With Edward Manet begins modern painting: that is, the Cinematograph; forms making their way toward speech. Precisely; a form which thinks. Cinema was first made for thinking. This would soon be forgotten. But that’s another story. The flame went out for good in Auschwitz. This thought is worth at least a farthing’.

 

11.   I will end with Godard’s tribute to his guru, Henri Langlois looking down, standing next to a sign, ‘Cinematograph Lumie’ (flanked by an angel), because it is moving to see and hear a tale of the transmissibility of a fragile tradition and of the tenacity, creativity, imagination and faith needed to create and renew the institutional conditions that would facilitate it. ‘This man from avenue Messine gave us the gift of the past metamorphosed into the present, during Indochine, Algeria’. For Godard, the transmissibility of tradition calls not for the repetition of received truth like a litany (Holy mother of god, pray for us…Jesus, Mary Joseph, pray for us…), but for an act of creativity, ‘dangerous to the thinker’; the self-identical ‘I’.  As ‘a form that thinks’, cinema and its history as presented by Godard, is essential to the formation of modern community.

 

Might one wind up then by saying that this man Jean-Luc Godard has given us this gift of the past, Histoire(s) du Cinema, the 20th century metamorphosed into our present - stories told with fluid signs. These signs, this gift, composed with exposed celluloid, light and dark, matter and memory. And let’s remember that a gift traditionally creates a feeling of reciprocity, has the power to create community, even if it is a community of two. And yet, and yet, this is a curious gift, freighted with emptiness (like Lumiere’s famous train); we stretch out our hands to receive it and it vanishes.

 

So we need a little yarn to hold on to, one told to me by the filmmaker, Ho Tzun Yen at a forum we participated in recently in conjunction with the Documenta Travelling Archive/Show, at the National Museum of Singapore. And this is what he said:


A long time ago, it was said that Cook Ting was butchering an ox for Lord Wen Hui. And his skill impressed the lord greatly. When asked about his secret, the cook replied: "the joints of an ox have spaces between them and the blade of the butcher’s knife has no thickness. He who knows how to sink the very thin blade into the empty spaces handles the knife with ease, because he is working through the emptiness’‘.

 

Endnotes
1. K.K. Mahajan (1944-2007) was one of India’s foremost cinematographers with a body of work  comprising 84 feature films, about 100 commercials and over 20 major documentaries and several TV serials. A winner of several national awards his cinematographic contribution to Indian cinema, mainstream Hindi, as well as art and avant-garde cinema, is unparalleled.  He was among the first batch of students to graduate from the Film and Television Institute of India where he worked on Kumar Shahani’s graduation film, The Glass Pane 1965.  This collaborative work as students led to a working partnership that endured for over 40 years. Partha Chatterjee in his obituary says that; “when asked a day after K.K’s passing away whether he and K.K. ‘sang’ as one voice, Kumar Shahani declared emotionally: ‘Oh, absolutely’”. K. K. Mahajan is the cinematographer of two of the four Kumar Shahani films archived at the Australian Cinémathèque at the Queensland Art Gallery; Khayal Gatha 1988 and Bamboo Flute 2001. New negative materials and subtitle prints of Khayal Gatha were reconstructed by the Australian Cinémathèque from the best existing print when it was reported that the negative of the film was irretrievably damaged, contributing to the preservation of the audio-visual heritage of the world.
2. Meaghan Morris, Identity Annecdotes: Translation and Media Culture, London:Sage, 2006, pp.23–24.
3. Thierry de Duve, LOOK; 100 Years of Contemporary Art, Ludion: Brussels, 2000, 227.
4. Laleen Jayamanne, “The Museum as Refuge for Film: The Case of Kumar Shahani’s Epic Cinema”, PostScript, 25/3. 2006, 79–92.
5. Alois Riegl, Historical Grammar of the Visual Arts, Zone: New York, 2004, 13–15
6. Kumar Shahani, “Dossier: Kumar Shahani, Notes for an Aesthetic of Cinema Sound” Framework, 30/31, 1986, 94.
7.Henry Bergson, The Creative Mind: An Introduction to Metaphysics, Citadel Press; NY, 2002, 186–87
 8. Paola Marrati, “Time and Affects, Deleuze on Gender and Sexual Difference, Australian Feminist Studies, 21/51, November 2006, 321.
9. Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: Time Image, University of Minnesota Press; Minneapolis, 1989, 71.
 
Further Reading
Garry Genosko, Felix Guattari: An Aberrant Introduction, Continuum; NY, 2002.
Pierre Klossowski, Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle, Continuum; New York, 2005.
Trond Lundemo, “The Index and the Erasure: Godard’s Approach to Film History”, in Forever Godard, eds. Michael Temple et al. Black Dog Publishing; London, 2004, 380–395.

 

Dr Laleen Jayamanne is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Sydney. She obtained her BA from the University of Ceylon, an MA in Performance from New York University, and her PhD from the University of NSW. In 2001 she published a renowned what has become a key text in postcolonial film theory, Towards Cinema and its Double: Cross-cultural Mimesis, with Indiana University Press, US. She was the recipient of an ARC Discovery grant (2005-2007) for her research project 'Cinema and the Senses: Temporality of the Films of Stanley Kubrick, Terrence Malick and Kumar Shahani'. Her research interests include: cross-cultural film criticism; feminist film theory; the cinema of Kumar Shahani; and Deleuzean film theory. She has also written and directed critically celebrated films, including Song of Ceylon 1985.

 

© Laleen Jayamanne and the Australian Cinémathèque. Not to be reprinted without permission of the author and the Australian Cinémathèque.