At the Limit of Breath: Poems on the Films of Jean-Luc by Stephen Scobie

By Stephen Scobie

Stephen Scobie celebrates “the maximum movie director of his age” with poetry exploring forty four of Godard’s motion pictures.

Subtle but profound unities play from poem to poem. Characters, destinations, pictures, and the beneficiant use of citation jump-cut and recur to ship the mind's eye reeling during the greater works of either artists. Readers could be seduced to linger in the writing and inspired to hunt past, to Godard's personal oeuvre.

The booklet is sharply estimated and punctiliously cadenced to be able to satisfaction readers who is probably not accustomed to Godard's movies. these already conversant in Godard's paintings will locate on the restrict of breath a so much profitable adventure.

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Example text

Take this thing. ” “Put it there. ” “Pillow. Cover. ” “Come here. I said come here … Don’t you understand? ” “Put them on. ” “Give me a blanket. There. ” “Cover him. ” “Lift him up. ” “Don’t be afraid. ” “Move up. There. ” “Lift him. You’re tipping him. ” “Lift it higher. Lift higher. ” “Bring it back. ” The flustered son tries to comply, but he has trouble finding things and moving as quickly as she requires. Rather than take the time to search for socks for the corpse, the son hastily removes his own.

Here Dead Man’s ever-simmering blend of horror and farce explodes on a larger scale than elsewhere in the film, though Dead Man does not lack other comic, horrific characters. Consider, for instance, the train’s grimy fireman (Crispin Glover), who stops tending the furnace in order to take a seat facing Blake in the passenger car, where he informs him that he has arrived in Hell. The fireman predicts, moreover, that Blake is as likely to find his own grave as a job in Machine, which the unbidden pessimist calls “the end of the line”.

The request is directed to Blake in most cases, and he responds that he doesn’t smoke. By the film’s end Nobody, who outlives just about everyone, including Blake (though Blake may still be breathing in the vanishing canoe as Nobody and Cole shoot each other on the shore), has reiterated his desire several times. His devotion to tobacco, as explained by Jarmusch in interviews, reflects Native American belief that its use supports friendship as well as physical and spiritual health. Still, when Nobody tells Blake he has placed tobacco in the canoe for Blake’s final journey, the dying man only replies yet again that he doesn’t smoke.

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