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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group


A Portrait of the Artist at Seventy

Colin MacCabe

Farrar, Straus and Giroux


Jean-Luc Godard's early films revolutionized the language of cinema. Hugely prolific in his first decade--Breathless, Contempt, Pierrot le Fou, Alphaville, and Made in USA are just a handful of the seminal works he directed--Godard introduced filmgoers to the generation of stars associated with the trumpeted sexuality of postwar movies and culture: Brigitte Bardot, Jean Seberg, Jean-Paul Belmondo, and Anna Karina.

As the sixties wore on, however, Godard's life was transformed. The Hollywood he had idolized began to disgust him, and in the midst of the socialist ferment in France his second wife introduced him to the activist student left. From 1968 to 1972, Europe's greatest director worked in the service of Maoist politics, and continued thereafter to experiment on the far peripheries of the medium he had transformed. His extraordinary later works are little seen or appreciated, yet he remains one of Europe's most influential artists.

Drawing on his own working experience with Godard and his coterie, Colin MacCabe, in this first biography of the director, has written a thrilling account of the French cinema's transformation in the hands of Truffaut, Rohmer, Rivette, and Chabrol--critics who toppled the old aesthetics by becoming, legendarily, directors themselves--and Godard's determination to make cinema the greatest of the arts.

Praise for Godard

“Deserves the highest praise . . . MacCabe . . . does a superb job at tracing the evolution of Godard's ideas . . . excellent.” —David Thomson, The Nation

“Filled with a wealth of illuminating, even surprising, material.” —J. Hoberman, Film Comment*

“Essential for anyone deep in movie-love.” —Troy Patterson, Entertainment Weekly

“Godard emerges from this biography--the first on this elusive artist--as a character of intense, single-minded devotion to personal vision even to the point of destructiveness . . . a figure who accepts no compromise.” —Dana Polan, Los Angeles Times Book Review

“This is, at last, the book Godard deserves, one that does justice to the life and work of the most original filmmaker of the twentieth century. MacCabe vividly recreates the social and political turmoil of post-war France in which Godard came of age, moves fluidly from the theoretical to the personal, and captures at once the essence of the Nouvelle Vague and the particularity of individual films. A remarkable achievement.” —Peter Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls


Reviews from Goodreads

Colin MacCabe

Colin MacCabe is Distinguished Professor of English and Film at the University of Pittsburgh; teaches at the University of Essex; and serves as the Chairman of the London Consortium, of which he was a founder. Most recently he is the author and producer, respectively, of The Eloquence of the Vulgar and Badassss.....Cinema.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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