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The Representation of Politics: The Films of Jean-Luc Godard and the Dziga Vertov Group, 1967-1972

Topp, Dominic (2014) The Representation of Politics: The Films of Jean-Luc Godard and the Dziga Vertov Group, 1967-1972. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.47917) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:47917)

Language: English

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This thesis examines the films made by Jean-Luc Godard, both alone and in collaboration with others, between 1967 and 1972. Whereas previous accounts have characterised these films as a relatively unified phase of Godard’s career, both thematically and formally, I argue that they can best be understood not as one consistent project but as the exploration of a number of different approaches to political cinema, and as a dynamic interaction between a highly idiosyncratic filmmaker and a changing political and cultural landscape before, during and after the events of May 1968.

Working within the framework of a historical poetics of cinema, the thesis weaves together three main strands. Firstly, it studies the themes and subject matter that the films address. Many of these derive from the ideas and actions of various Maoist groups, whose opposition to official communism could be understood as paralleling Godard’s cinematic innovations, but the films also refer to debates about the form and function of political art that were current in this period. Secondly, the thesis analyses the ways in which this referential material is shaped by the films’ formal and stylistic practices. Godard uses a number of organisational principles to structure his work at both the local and global levels, and the interplay of these formal systems, sometimes complementing, sometimes conflicting with one another, produces a wide range of effects that both support and transform the films’ political meanings. Thirdly, the thesis considers some proximate sources of the aesthetic practices of Godard and his collaborators. While many of these films revise and repurpose devices from Godard’s previous work, they also draw on techniques originated by earlier filmmakers, most notably the theory and practice of the Soviet director Dziga Vertov.

Making reference to a range of original documents, some of them translated into English for the first time, this thesis offers a detailed and comprehensive account of a portion of Godard’s career that has been neglected in recent years, with a methodological approach that enables it to shed new light on a diverse and challenging group of films.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Smith, Murray
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.47917
Additional information: The author of this thesis has requested that it be held under closed access. We are sorry but we will not be able to give you access or pass on any requests for access. 01/04/22
Uncontrolled keywords: Jean-Luc Godard; Dziga Vertov Group; Political modernism; Historical poetics of cinema; Film form; Film style; Editing
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2015 11:00 UTC
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2022 13:53 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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