Histoire(s) du cinéma (1989–1999)
7.3/10
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3 user 9 critic

Une histoire seule 

An 8-part documentary chronically the history of cinema: "All the Histories", "A Single History", "Only Cinema", "Deadly "Beauty", "The Coin of the Absolute", "A New Wave", "The Control of the Universe", and "The Signs Among Us".

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An 8-part documentary chronically the history of cinema: "All the Histories", "A Single History", "Only Cinema", "Deadly "Beauty", "The Coin of the Absolute", "A New Wave", "The Control of the Universe", and "The Signs Among Us".

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experimental film | essay | See All (2) »

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14 May 1989 (France)  »

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Edited from Our Daily Bread (1934) See more »

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On track to be one of the biggest, most ambitious letdowns I've ever experienced
18 June 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

After the borderline-abysmal first part of French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard's first chapter of Histoire(s) du Cinéma, I was very much hesitant to watch another part. For a filmmaker that has made films that were rebellious to convention and to French filmmaking norms throughout the entire 1960's decade, it wasn't unexpected to see Godard's unique and unconventional style crossover to his eight-part series on the history of cinema. However, it was surprising to see how maddeningly incoherent and jumbled the first part felt, as if Godard was simply trying to shortchange and disrespect the medium in every way he could, from not giving depth or analysis to the film clips he chose, to hardly even explaining why he felt some incredibly diverse clips went together.

With A Single (Hi)story, the conclusion of chapter one of four chapters in Histoire(s) du Cinéma, Godard continues the heavily alienating style to a similar middling effect. All of the issues I took with the first part are still here, from the disgusting abundance of text, some of which is completely illegible since no effort was made to distinguish the white-colored text from equally white-colored backgrounds, to the redundant and purposefully vague narration provided by the cigar-chomping, constantly-typing Godard himself. What saves A Single (Hi)story from being just as bad as the first part is Godard's inclusion of scenes from films like Charlie Chaplin's The Kid, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and early film clips from the iconic Lumière brothers, which keep one in tune with the work, despite its almost compulsive attempt to completely distract and irritate at every turn.

On top of that, surrealist cinema is shown somewhat here, and while no analysis is provided - something you think would kind of be included or emphasized in a lengthy documentary trying to elaborate on the history of cinema - it's nice to see Godard recognize these clips and make an attempt to string several clips along to showcase what a certain chapter in cinema was about.

Aside from that, A Single (Hi)story suffers from the same problems as its predecessor All the (Hi)stories; if this keeps up, I wouldn't hesitate to name Histoire(s) du Cinéma one of the biggest, most ambitious letdowns I've yet to experience.

Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard.


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