Le Gai savoir

Screening on Film
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard.
With Juliet Berto, Jean-Pierre Léaud.
France, 1969, 16mm, color, 95 min.
French with English subtitles.

Originally commissioned as a modern version of Rousseau’s Emile for French television (which subsequently refused to air it), Le Gai savoir is an investigation into the nature of language and image. Godard’s multi-level exploration employs two symbolic characters—Patricia (Berto), a daughter of Lumumba and the Cultural Revolution, and Emile (Léaud), great-great-grandson of Jean-Jacques Rousseau—and takes place in the metaphorical void of a deserted television studio at night. The two agree that they must go back to the degree zero of cinema, dissolving its sounds and images to find its structure. Only then, after a fresh start, can the media bring about revolutionary social relations.

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