Godard and the Essay Film offers a history and analysis of the essay film, one of the most significant forms of intellectual filmmaking since the end of World War II. Warner incisively reconsiders the defining traits and legacies of this still-evolving genre through a groundbreaking examination of the vast and formidable oeuvre of Jean-Luc Godard.
The essay film has often been understood by scholars as an eccentric development within documentary, but Warner shows how an essayistic process of thinking can materialize just as potently within narrative fiction films, through self-critical investigations into the aesthetic, political, and philosophical resources of the medium. Studying examples by Godard and other directors, such as Orson Welles, Chris Marker, Agnès Varda, and Harun Farocki, Warner elaborates a fresh account of essayistic reflection that turns on the imaginative, constructive role of the viewer.
Through fine-grained analyses, this book contributes the most nuanced description yet of the relational interface between viewer and screen in the context of the essay film. Shedding new light on Godard’s work, from the 1960s to the 2010s, in film, television, video, and digital stereoscopy, Warner distills an understanding of essayistic cinema as a shared exercise of critical rumination and perceptual discovery.