Making Films Negatively: Godard’s Political Aesthetics


  • Jeremy Spencer Camberwell College of Arts - University of Arts London, UK


Aesthetic, Avant-garde, Counter-cinema, Ideology, Modernism, Negation


This essay seeks to reconstruct conflicting positions within materialist theories of art and culture as they relate to and help explain the “counter-cinema” of Jean-Luc Godard. The essay discusses a number of the films Godard made collaboratively in the late 1960s and early 1970s which were informed by Maoism. The focus is on the critique of Clark and Rancière made of political modernism that the Dziga-Vertov Group’s documentary films embodied. The essay reconsiders Wollen’s and Clark’s theories of modern art and culture as kinds of semiotic dislocation or negativity to situate Godard’s techniques aesthetically and historically. The discussion of Marxist aesthetics aims to clarify the nature of Godard’s practice but the essay leaves the contrasting positions of Rancière and Brechtian political modernism and those of Clark and Wollen in tension.




How to Cite

Spencer, J. (2016). Making Films Negatively: Godard’s Political Aesthetics. Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image, (8), 69–87. Retrieved from