Friday, January 04, 2008
Overturn the Cars
Above is a fun, loose lineage of some things I have been thinking or reading about: Paris Commune barricades, 1871; a Renault tank from WWI; overturned cars on the street from May '68 riots; Sartre addressing workers at Billancourt, the major Renault factory; Sartre and Godard, May '68; a still from Godard/Gorin's Tout va bien, based on the Renault/Billancourt strikes; a still from Themroc, wherein Michel Piccoli stages his own private Commune (and gets the State angry at him for his troubles). While the images may be offered as there for your casual perusal, and are not of course a serious or profound argument of any kind, they are pointing towards serious questions. The automobile has played such a major role in modernization and, as such, it has been a locus for some of the defining characteristics of our modern dilemma--industrial pollution, consumerism, fossil fuel geopolitics, mobility & travel, labor exploitation and labor-management disputes. Car culture and cinema culture, or more broadly modern travel and modern media (both of which have necessitated certain innovations in commodification and perception), deserve some more vigorous conceptualization and application in history, cultural studies, film studies ... or if the literature is ample (a possibility), then I would like to find it and read it.
A reading list for myself: Kristin Ross's Fast Cars, Clean Bodies (working on this currently); Wolfgang Schivelbusch (various); Jonathan Crary's Suspensions of Perception.
Some films to think about and maybe see again: Il Sorpasso (Dino Risi, 1962), To Catch a Thief, La Jetée, Images of the World and the Inscription of War, Playtime, Godard from '67 to '76, Red Line 7000, Sex and the Single Girl, The Big Mouth.
Some films to see: Un homme et une femme (Lelouch), mid-60s John Frankenheimer, more European co-produced pulp/spy/mod movies.
This is just a beginning. I would welcome suggestions on things to read and watch with regard to changes in economics, culture, consumption, perception, and aesthetic reimagination in the postwar era.