Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Here and Elsewhere

We spent the morning watching Here and Elsewhere (French: Ici et Ailleurs) by Jean-Luc Godard and Anne-Marie Miéville. The film includes footage from a trip Godard and Gorin (Dziga Vertov Group) made to Palestine in 1970, footage taken when he returned and the subsequent years following the completion of the final film.

Brad Butler was running the session and had and suggested that it showed the directors going through a serious crisis. After watching, it became clear that the film questions the authority of film as a medium, the directors role in the production of a film and the representation of power and war within the media. It turns the camera both on the Palestinian revolution in 1970, a French family, and then images within the media. It is voiced over by both Godard, who offers a dialogue, ideas, theories and Mieville, who speaks, but also acts as a translator for Palestinian characters. It directly asks the question 'Who has a right to speak? How? and for Whom?

The film is 53 minutes long and we watched it in seven minute intervals, discussing each clip at length.
Last year I remember watching the film the whole way through and drifting in and out concentration due to the the huge mix of text, dialogue, voice, translation and image that the film deploys.
Watching it again, more slowly allowed for much more space to examine each section in greater detail and to actually deconstruct what was happening and what each image and sound meant. 

Later, as a way to digest what we had watched, we physically responded to the film through a series of short group performances. We were given 30 minutes in which to come up with a 10 minute performance using a large black board and chalk. There were four groups and each one attempted to focus on ways in which the film could be presented without the presence of moving image, but rather through bodies, movement and voice.

Our group performance (Group 4) made up of four individuals constituted a Director (representing Godard and Miéville) and three individuals selected from the film, a housewife, a Palestinian revolutionary and a influential male leader (maybe Kissinger?).

Our performance began in 1970 and the director places each of the characters in a location in the room. The housewife is positioned hidden, near the sink, the revolutionary sitting on the floor and the leader in front of the audience. He then asks them to speak. He goes to the blackboard and starts to write down what each character is doing, gradually as he is writing, each character start to slip out of role. The director returns, places them back into position and continues to record what they are doing. As the years go on the characters continue to slip out of role again and again.
(1970 - 1976, in 1970 Godard has envisaged the film would be about the Palestinian revolution and called 'Victory', that film is never finished and instead the footage taken from 1970 is used in Here and Elsewhere)

In the short time we had to produce the performance I think we were attempting to consider the way in which a film challenge ways in which images are read. For example, there is a scene which I remember strongly where a Palestinian woman stands up and speaks, while she is speaking, a translators voice (Mieville) is projected over the top of her claiming that as she speaks she is thinking that she wants to return to her repetitive duties in the kitchen. It was this scene, along with many others which attempt to illustrate how meaning can be created and falsified through a representation of an image and then a sound which may contradict what the image is saying. Alongside this, there is an emphasis on schedule, daily routine and the way in which noise creates ambiguity in an image. There are a number of scenes in which people are turning up the volume on the radio and T.V in order to drown out the repetition of everyday routines, or block out the sound of others. Simultaneously, there is a suggestion that who ever speaks the loudest is the one who will take power. 

Group one 

Group two

Group 3

 Group 4 

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