France | 1995 | 62 min
Language : French
Subtitle : English
“What is a self-portrait? Only painting has given us an answer. Rembrandt and Madame Vigée-Lebrun practised self-portraiture to show themselves to others, but it can also be a way to observe one’s own painting. (…) I think that here I tried to film, to record thought, which is what cinema is made for.” Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc’s serious childhood face gazes out at us from the mantelpiece above the fireplace. The photograph is partly obscured by the shadow of Jean-Luc himself, whose camera travels over the winter landscapes of Lake Geneva to the filmmaker's inner world, presented in fragments, like a jigsaw whose pieces have the shape of sensations, meditations, literary, pictorial and, of course, cinematographic quotations. This “self-portrait in December”, which was originally commissioned by the French production company Gaumont to celebrate its centenary, records a process of thought in movement - cinema’s raison d’être, according to Godard: “What was Rembrandt seeking when he set his easel next to the mirror? Probably to see how far painting could go. And then, how far he would follow it, or for how long, (...) since it was the time spent painting itself that he recorded on the canvas. Stripped bare, so to say. Not an ID picture, certainly. Nor a form of soul-searching. Just a question of time. And space gives neither answers, nor speed, nor position. Except perhaps in cinematography, the only system in which moral and physical forces work together."
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