Jean-Luc Godard's interest in pedagogy, and in the pedagogical capacities of the image in particular, led him in works of the late 1960s to confront some of the main theoretical problems concerning image, language, and knowledge, problems that have been at the core of his films ever since. Despite the “scientific” claims made by films like Masculin féminin (1965) and 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (1967), Godard's enthusiasm for a pedagogical usage of the image was quickly undercut by serious doubts about the adequacy of any verbal or visual signs. This doubt, in turn, led Godard to associate the possibility of adequate signification with a utopian condition to be brought about by Communist revolution. Such a condition, in which an image could successfully express an idea, is imagined hypothetically in the “images claires” of La Chinoise (1967). Le gai savoir (1969), meanwhile, acknowledges our distance from this condition and considers how knowledge might be arrived at through images despite their shortcomings. Nonetheless, the latter film continues to posit the possibility of a future state in which language will be capable of fully manifesting truth, but imagines that this truth will reside in the embodied voice rather than in the image.

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