Jean-Louis Comolli

Jean-Louis Comolli (1941) is a French writer and film director. He was editor-in-chief of Cahiers du Cinéma from 1966 to 1978. He wrote influential essays on Marxist cinema, including Machines of the Visible (1971) and Technique and Ideology: Camera, Perspective, Depth of Field (1971-2). As a director he is known for La Cecilia (1975), Buenaventura Durruti, anarquista (2000) and L’ombre rouge (1981). He has returned to film theory in recent years, with shorter critical texts collected in the anthologies Voir et pouvoir (2004) and Corps et cadre (2012), as well as the monographs Cinéma contre spectacle (2009), Cinéma mode d’emploi (2015) and, most recently, Daech, le cinéma et la mort (2016).

Jean-Louis Comolli, 2013

The exercise is new to me. To reread what I have written in another time. Over the past decade, I was occasionally prompted to speak on Wang Bing’s film West of the Tracks (2002), which I don’t just consider a great movie but a cinematographic event that changes the state of things we still call ‘cinema’. In Corps et cadre (Verdier, 2002), I regretted not being able to produce a true critique of this film fleuve (of nine hours). The thing was beyond me; it still is. I then resolved to a different tactical approach. To examine what remained of the film in my memory. A film which is that long, a whole which is that intricate, cut into four segments each lasting more than one hour, two hours, three hours, obviously presents a challenge to the memory of the spectator that I am.