Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


David A. Gerstner

Subject Categories

Film and Media Studies


Godard, French Cinema, Critical Theory, Derrida, Adorno, Debord


Godard’s cinema of the mid-to-late-sixties offers a compelling body of work in which we can witness the director making a more conscious effort to renounce the tendencies of what Peter Wollen terms ‘orthodox cinema,’ through a more disruptive and textual approach, which, of course, mirrored his increasingly radical politics. This attempt to marry politics and art raises the question of what a genuinely revolutionary cinema would look like, or if it is even possible at all. This thesis will attempt to tackle just such a question, discussing three of Godard’s films from the period to examine this evolving radical tendency: Bande à part, Masculin féminin, and La Chinoise. Such a notion of revolutionary cinema as separate from the bourgeois norm will be complicated by thinkers such as Derrida, Adorno and Horkheimer, and Debord, who, within the context of this argument, are far from suggesting that such a break or negation is impossible, but that the pieces for such a split may be present already. An idea that will be explored through Godard’s use in the films of pre-existing cultural/political material. It is Godard’s implementation of the aesthetic tools at his disposal which proves so critical, a fact which may ultimately serve to confirm the intent. The emphasis, therefore, will be on ‘manufacturing’ as much as it will be on ‘revolutionary cinema.’