By Jean-Luc Godard
Written in January 1970 at the request of Simon Field and Peter Sainsbury for the magazine Afterimage, produced by Peter Whitehead. Published in Afterimage n°1, April 1970. Translated from French by Mo Teitelbaum.
1. We must make political films.
2. We must make films politically.
3. 1 and 2 are antagonist to each other and belong to two opposing conceptions of the world.
4. 1 belongs to the idealistic and metaphysical conception of the world.
5. 2 belongs to the Marxist and dialectical conception of the world.
6. Marxism struggles against idealism and the dialectical against the metaphysical.
7. This struggle is the struggle between the old and the new, between new ideas and old ones.
8. The social existence of men determines their thought.
9. The struggle between the old and the new is the struggle of classes.
10. To carry out 1 is to remain a being of the bourgeois class.
11. To carry out 2 is to take up a proletarian class position.
12. To carry out 1 is to make descriptions of situations.
13. To carry out 2 is to make concrete analysis of a concrete situation.
14. To carry out 1 is to make BRITISH SOUNDS.
15. To carry out 2 is to struggle for the showing of BRITISH SOUNDS on English television.
16. To carry out 1 is to understand the law of the objective world in order to explain the world.
17. To carry out 2 is to understand the law of the objective world in order to actively transform that world.
18. To carry out 1 is to describe the wretchedness of the world.
19. To carry out 2 is to show the people in struggle.
20. To carry out 2 is to destroy 1 with the weapons of criticism and self-criticism.
21. To carry out 1 is to give a complete view of events in the name of truth in itself.
22. To carry out 2 is not to fabricate over-complete images of the world in the name of relative truth.
23. To carry out 1 is to say how things are real. (Brecht)
24. To carry out 2 is to say how things really are. (Brecht)
25. To carry out 2 is to edit a film before shooting it, to make it during filming and to make it after the filming. (Dziga Vertov)
26. To carry out 1 is to distribute a film before producing it.
27. To carry out 2 is to produce a film before distributing it, to learn to produce it following the principle that:
it is production which commands distribution
it is politics which commands economy.
28. To carry out 1 is to film students who write: Unity – Students – Workers.
29. To carry out 2 is to know that unity is a struggle of opposites (Lenin) to know that two are in one.
30. To carry out 2 is to study the contradictions between the classes with images and sounds.
31. To carry out 2 is to study the contradictions between the relationships of production and the productive forces.
32. To carry out 2 is to dare to know where one is, and where one has come from, to know one’s place in the process of production in order then to change it.
33. To carry out 2 is to know the history of revolution struggles and be determined by them.
34. To carry out 2 is to produce scientific knowledge of revolution struggles and of their history.
35. To carry out 2 is to know that film making is a secondary activity, a small screw in the revolution.
36. To carry out 2 is to use images and sounds as teeth and lips to bite with.
37. To carry out 1 is only to open the eyes and the ears.
38. To carry out 2 is to read the reports of comrade Kiang Tsing.
39. To carry out 2 is to be militant.
14/15 British Sounds, Dziga Vertov Group’s third film, came out in 1969. The transcript of the film is available here.
23/24: “Realism doesn’t mean showing real things, but showing how things really are.” Godard also quoted this dictum by Brecht in the scenario of Les Carabiniers (1963).
25: A reference to Vertov’s text “Provisional Instructions to Kino-Eye Groups” (1926).
29: According to Lenin, “dialectics can be defined as the doctrine of the unity of opposites” (1961).
38: Kiang Tsing (or Jiang Qing) was Mao Zedong’s last wife, well known for her role in the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) and for forming the political alliance known as the “Gang of Four”. During the Cultural revolution, Joang Qing, who used to be a Shanghai movie star in the 1940s, created the “internal screenings” (or “internal reference material film”) system which allowed for some filmmakers and elite intellectuals to watch Western films in screenings that were closed to the general public. Godard pays homage to her in Vent d’Est (1970), refering to her text “Summary of the Forum on the Work in Literature And Art in the Armed Forces With Which Comrade Lm Piao Entrusted Comrade Chiang Ching”.