Histoire(s) du cinéma

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Histoire(s) du cinéma
An image quoted from Prison (1949 film) and overlapped text Histoire(s) du cinéma
Directed byJean-Luc Godard
Produced byCanal+, Centre National de la Cinématographie, France 3, Gaumont, La Sept, Télévision Suisse Romande, Vega Films
Written byJean-Luc Godard
StarringJuliette Binoche, Julie Delpy, Anne-Marie Miéville, André Malraux, Ezra Pound, Paul Celan
Narrated byJean-Luc Godard
Music byJohann Sebastian Bach, Béla Bartók, Ludwig van Beethoven, Leonard Cohen, John Coltrane, David Darling, Bernard Herrmann, Paul Hindemith, Arthur Honegger, Giya Kancheli, György Kurtág, Franz Liszt, Gustav Mahler, Arvo Pärt, Otis Redding, Dino Saluzzi, Franz Schubert, Dmitri Shostakovich, Igor Stravinsky, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Anton Webern
CinematographyPierre Binggeli, Hervé Duhamel
Edited byJean-Luc Godard
Distributed byGaumont
Release date
Running time
266 minutes (total)

Histoire(s) du cinéma (French: [is.twaʁ dy si.ne.ma]) is an 8-part video project begun by Jean-Luc Godard in the late 1980s and completed in 1998. The longest, at 266 minutes, and one of the most complex of Godard's films, Histoire(s) du cinéma is an examination of the history of the concept of cinema and how it relates to the 20th century; in this sense, it can also be considered a critique of the 20th century and how it perceives itself. The project is widely considered the most important work of the late period of Godard's career.

Histoire(s) du cinéma is always referred to by its French title, because of the word play it implies: histoire means both "history" and "story," and the s in parentheses gives the possibility of a plural. Therefore, the phrase Histoire(s) du cinéma simultaneously means The History of Cinema, Histories of Cinema, The Story of Cinema and Stories of Cinema. Similar double or triple meanings, as well as puns, are a recurring motif throughout Histoire(s) and much of Godard's work.

The film was screened out of competition at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival.[1] Nine years later, it was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1997 Festival.[2]

The soundtrack was released as a 5-CD boxed set on the ECM record label.

In 2012, it was voted the 48th greatest film of all time in a poll of film directors by Sight & Sound magazine.[3]


Histoire(s) du cinéma consists of 4 chapters, each one subdivided into two parts, making for a total of 8 episodes. The first two episodes, Toutes les histoires (1988) and Une histoire seule (1989) run 52 minutes and 48 minutes, respectively; the remaining 6 episodes, premiered 1997 - 1998, run under 40 minutes each.

  • Chapter 1(a) : 51 min.
    • Toutes les histoires (1988) - All the (Hi)stories
  • Chapter 1(b) : 42 min.
    • Une Histoire seule (1989) - A Single (Hi)story
  • Chapter 2(a) : 26 min.
    • Seul le cinéma (1997) - Only Cinema
  • Chapter 2(b) : 28 min.
    • Fatale beauté (1997) - Deadly Beauty
  • Chapter 3(a) : 27 min.
    • La Monnaie de l’absolu (1998) - The Coin of the Absolute
  • Chapter 3(b) : 27 min.
    • Une Vague Nouvelle (1998) - A New Wave
  • Chapter 4(a) : 27 min.
    • Le Contrôle de l’univers (1998) - The Control of the Universe
  • Chapter 4(b) : 38 min.
    • Les Signes parmi nous (1998) - The Signs Among Us

Films referenced and quoted[edit]

Two images overlapped in Chapter 1(a): Godard at work and Ida Lupino

Histoire(s) du cinéma is composed almost entirely of visual and auditory quotations from films, some famous and some obscure. The sources of referenced films and literary quotations are delineated chronologically by the film critic Céline Scemama-Heard, the author of Histoire(s) du cinéma de Jean-Luc Godard. La force faible d’un art.[4]

This is a partial list of works Godard drew upon to create the project; a complete list would number hundreds of entries.


  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Histoire(s) du cinéma". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-07-31.
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Histoire(s) du cinéma". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-09-26.
  3. ^ http://www.bfi.org.uk/news/50-greatest-films-all-time. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Scemama-Heard, Céline, La partition des Histoire(s) du cinéma de Jean-Luc Godard, available on the site of Centre de Recherche sur l'Image (CRI), Paris
  5. ^ a b c d "The Misery and Splendors of Cinema: Godard's Moments Choisis des Histoire(s) du Cinéma - Bright Lights Film Journal". Bright Lights Film Journal. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  6. ^ a b Senses of Cinema: The Man with the Magnetoscope
  7. ^ "Histoire(s) du cinéma: Une histoire seule (Video 1989)". IMDb. Retrieved 14 March 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • Scemama-Heard, Céline, Histoire(s) du cinéma de Jean-Luc Godard. La force faible d’un art, L’Harmattan, Paris, 2006. ISBN 2-296-00728-7 (in French)

External links[edit]