Soft and Hard (A Soft Conversation on Hard Subjects)

1985, 48:11 min, color, sound, French with English subtitles.

Merging the social, the cultural and the domestic in a provocative and witty inquiry into cinema, television, and image making, Soft and Hard focuses on Godard and Miéville's everyday life and work at their home in Rolle, Switzerland. This wry yet poignant "home video" centers on an extended, intimate conversation between Godard and Miéville about their personal relationships to the creation and reception of images. Intercut with a collage of images from classical Hollywood cinema, television, news photos and onscreen text, the couple's dialogue critiques the dominance of mass media in relation to cinema. Comments Godard, "When I watch French television today, I think I know exactly how the French resistance felt during the German occupation."

A subtext of the underlying sexual economy of image production emerges from their conversation and interaction, and from ironic dramatizations of their domestic life and work. Godard is shown talking on the phone to a distributor; Miéville threads film on a Steenbeck. In one memorably droll scenario, she irons clothes while he takes practice swings with a tennis racket. (Godard: "I'm making pictures instead of making children.") In another sequence, Godard reads aloud from Broch's The Death of Virgil while Miéville wanders through the countryside. Focusing on the quotidian to question the apparatus of mass cultural image making, Godard and Miéville have composed a personal essay of extraordinary richness and intelligence.

In French with English subtitles.

Producer: Tony Kirkhope. Directors: Jean-Luc Godard and Anne-Marie Miéville. Video: Pierre Binggeli. With: Colin MacCabe. Produced in association with Channel 4.


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