6.9/10
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A Letter to Freddy Buache (1982)

Lettre à Freddy Buache (original title)
Godard has been hired to make a film celebrating the 500th anniversary of Lausanne. This film is his videotaped refusal.

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Godard has been hired to make a film celebrating the 500th anniversary of Lausanne. This film is his videotaped refusal.

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Documentary | Short

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24 June 1983 (USA)  »

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A Letter to Freddy Buache  »

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A Formalist Refusal
27 September 2005 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

This short film is Godard's message to the people of Lausanne, specifically Freddy Buache, giving his reasons why he will not make a film about their town's 500th anniversary.

First Godard expresses his frustration with the town. When attempting to film on the side of a highway, they were forced to stop filming by the local authorities. The officer said they could only stop for an emergency. Godard replied that it was an emergency because the light was perfect. The officer wasn't understanding, and Godard complains that it could take 5 years of shooting to get the necessary lighting again.

He continues by saying that he can sum up the film in three shots. Green...a shade of gray...and blue. For this people have called him dishonest and , and he makes them realize he knows, repeatedly. He then goes onto to justify his reasons. He describes how lower Lausanne begins at the water, and upper Lausanne rises to the sky and the mountains, but the people have came together in the middle and all the periphery has been lost.

He tells how the shots need only be long enough to show the transfer from green to blue as it passes through gray. As we move through a multitude of different examples showing how this shift could be portrayed, through the eyes of Jean-Luc Godard, he discusses his cinematic and philosophical reasons why this film, consisting of three shots, is effective. Citing literary analogies; proposing that the gray represents the eternity that is those trapped in the middle's reality; saying that stylistically it needn't be more than form and colours; and that we must escape from the documentary and examine ourselves scientifically. This is what he hopes to achieve, and all that he feels he needs to do in order to capture the essence of Lausanne. I for one am convinced, but really know nothing about the town.

This is what you get for asking a formalist director to do a documentary on your town - a formalist response. This film reminded me of some of the earlier works of Peter Greenaway. Anyone who is a fan of Godard, Greenaway or other formalist directors should enjoy this film, which runs about 10mins 30secs in length. I give it a 9 out of 10, as I couldn't think of a better way to refute the offer.


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