The Image Book: or Penser avec les mains

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Beugnet, Martine
Ravetto-Biagioli, Kriss
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Film and Screen Media, University College Cork
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Drawing inspiration from Denis de Rougemont’s 1936 text Penser avec les mains, Jean-Luc Godard’s most recent film brings together what the Swiss philosopher calls “penser engagé” with his own unique kind of “cinéma engagé.” The Image Book (Le Livre d’image, 2018) starts with three image-gestures that punctuate the film: the cropped close-up of the right hand of Leonardo da Vinci’s St. John The Baptist, French illustrator Joseph Pinchon’s drawing of Bécassine with her upwards pointing left hand, and the hands of the filmmaker joining together spools of film at a Steenbeck editing table. Like many other “late” Godard films, The Image Book is a multilayered assemblage of quotations, sounds, music, art and cinematic references. Yet, unlike some of its predecessors, this film questions the monolithic (Occidental) way of seeing the world, including Godard’s younger self. Combining citations from films, works of art and philosophical texts from the Maghreb and the Middle East, the film offers itself as an exercise in “thinking with one’s hands” that results in the unflinching critique of Orientalism in the twenty-first century as well as an imaginative attempt to reach out to, if not join alongside with, the other.
Jean-Luc Godard , Le Livre d’image , Iconic gesture , Ethics of montage , Revisiting orientalism
Beugnet, M. and Ravetto-Biagioli, K. (2022) 'The Image Book: or Penser avec les mains', Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media, 23, pp. 10-31.