Sauve qui peut-la vie

Director: Jean-Luc Godard


Author and academic Colin MacCabe has known and worked with Jean-Luc Godard since the 1960s. His new book on the director, Godard: A Portrait of the Artist at 70 (published by Bloomsbury), is both a recognition of Godard’s genius and a perceptive investigation of French cinema, the events of May ’68 and Modernism’s long finish. For Cinefrance, MacCabe will talk about Godard’s work and introduce a screening of Sauve qui peut [la vie] (Slow Motion). Colin MacCabe lectures at the Universities of Pittsburgh and Exeter, and works as a producer for Minerva Pictures. He is the author of several books, including Performance (BFI Classics series), The Eloquence of the Vulgar and James Joyce and the Revolution of the Word.
There can be few examples in art or culture (Wittgenstein’s return to philosophy after the Tractatus might be one) where a great artist or thinker comes back for a new beginning, but Sauve qui peut is exactly that. For his return to cinema in 1980, Godard equipped himself with a story elaborated with the help of Luis Bu–uel’s screenwriter, Jean-Claude Carriere, and three of the biggest stars of French cinema: Jacques Dutronc, Nathalie Baye and Isabelle Huppert. The film is an extraordinary mix of exhilaration and despair-the exhilaration coming from the beauty and force of the images, the despair from a society in which no one is free, except the banks, and from a vision of male sexuality as inevitably damaged and damaging. The film covers the last days of the life of Paul Godard (Dutronc), a filmmaker separated from his wife and daughter and breaking up with his girlfriend Denise (Baye). It announced his return to the world of cinema and a return that was successful both critically and commercially. Sauve qui peut took over a million dollars during its twelve-week Paris run, and this result was repeated internationally.

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