La memoria de los muertos

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Published: 16 Sep 2022

My favorite Jean-Luc Godard film is not any of his feature films, but a small 11-minute essay entitled Lettre à Freddy Buache (Letter to Freddy Buache, 1981). In that film, Godard wonders, quoting Wittgenstein, whether "we have made a mistake by calling blue green." And in the search for that conceptual error he will continue to make films all his life, just as Alain Tanner sought the error of time that passes in Dans la ville blanche, or Louis Malle sought the error of individuality in Le feu follet, or Eric Rohmer sought the error of geometric thinking in Ma nuit chez Maud.

Seeking imperfection and error, these masters, among others, have moved away from formal and discursive perfection to find a deeper understanding of the world, and that is a debt we can never pay them back. With the deaths of Godard and Tanner just 3 days ago I have been overwhelmed by a sense of orphanhood, perhaps because the history of cinema is a cemetery. But it is one inhabited by the most beautiful corpses that speak ghostly to us day after day. Thus, Godard and Tanner have found the error of death.


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