Just in time for holiday giving, Olive Films has at last released an American edition of Jean-Luc Godard’s decades-in-the-making (or at least, decades-in-the-rights-clearing) “Histoire(s) du cinema” — 266 minutes of Godardian goodness assembled from a dizzying array of sources cinematic, literary, musical and painterly. Flashes of lightning like coherence burst through billowing cloud banks of Godardian obscurity over the course of eight episodes. While the sage of Switzerland may not always have his facts straight (did you know that Erich Pommer founded Universal?), the project is a magnificent non-linear journey across the 20th century, occasionally touching on movies but just as often occupied with the moral paradoxes of Western culture — its highs (“Some Came Running”) and lows (Sarajevo).
I can’t imagine that there will ever be a definitive critical account of this sprawling, brilliantly associative, impossibly dense work, and while I certainly don’t have one to offer in this week’s New York Times column, I do have a few elementary observations, which can be found here.