" We talked later, between silences, about conversation, and about its likeness to scientific research: about both of them being deeds of motion along an unlit corridor in which a participant will bang first against one wall and then against the other. Looking for something and finding something else. Research being an activity without company. Godard both defends and possibly regrets his isolation, but he would fight to the death for the right to solitude, which is something different. "Solitude is a strong position. The position to refuse." He contests by silence, just as his silence also expresses the courtesy of declining to waste someone else´s time.
So we began to talk about noise. Not sound but noise. His films have more and more often provoked thought about the intrusion of noise. "I am very interested in noise", he said. "Even when a small blade of grass is growing, there is a noise between the grass and the earth. Ah, I can ask you about something." He left the desk where he was sitting, and went to get a brochure, which he found in a second. "What is souffle in English?" I suggested a translation that was electronically wrong, and he got a technical dictionary. "It´s 'hum'."(..) "A souffle, which is a low-volume noise - which can, of course, be talk about, shall we say, a cup of coffee - is diagnosed here as 'a leakage between two channels.' There was an article in Scientific American by an expert on modern communications. (..) A signal between the transmitter and the receiver goes through a channel and noise is added, he wrote. A matter of signals. Conversation between intimates: a leakage between two channels."
Like the films he makes. Semaphore signs, emblems sighted from far away, seepages of talk.
"A film is an image on an image on an image. The images will say 'I love you', then 'I don´t love you', then 'I love you' again, but in a quite different way. This can be done without universities, without expensive equipment. Universities are depressing. Equipment leads to control by the rich owners of the equipment. A film should build images in a way that is quite different from TV. Television is a looking machine. The killings of people on TV don't have the effect the assassins want."
(..) "I hate the theatre. Perhaps because actors are shouting. Or because they are serfs. I prefer sport, which is a more free kind of theatre. I prefer the Olympic Games." "
Gideon Bachmann: The sound engineers, for example? You pay ever more attention to sound now.
Jean-Luc Godard: I have allways paid considerable attention to the sound track; I think we were among the first to use direct sound. I stopped going to Italian films, in fact, when I found out, by filming in Italy, that nobody there recorded the sound at all and they make it all up later. Mind you, there is a great musical tradition in Italy, which makes it all even more ridiculous. I don't think there should be a conflict between the sound and the image.
(..) If you take Alexander Nevsky by Eisenstein, for example, the battle scenes, these were first written in the form of a score by Prokofiev and this gave Eisenstein ideas; he had the score changed and then they shot the scenes in accordance with the music they had worked on together. My film has much less ambition, but three-quartes of the scenes in my film were also made in this way. For example, the attack on the bank came to be after I heard a certain part of the 10th Quartet and I understood, since I was planning this film, in which there was to be a crime element, I understood that Carmen could in fact be part of a small gang, and so then came the idea that Don José is a policeman, and in this way we came back to the real story of Carmen.
The music has a certain control over the images, and there are places in the film where the scenes become a bit autonomous or simplistic or even vulgar, like in a few of the love scenes between the protagonists, and then the music comes and takes over as if it were saying, "Come on, let's go, let's go on, this is serious..."
Everybody knows this, it has been said again and again, and not only about Carmen, music announces the events ["la musique annonce les evenements"], it presages history, and even people like Mitterand's adviser know this, and if the politicians would only listen to the music of the people, they might know better what goes on.
So I don´t thnk that what I am doing with sound is new, I think I have always paid as much attention to it and given it great importance. I find myself, in fact, being quite original in what I do, and maybe alone.
For example, all my films since Sauve qui peut have only two mixing tracks. You know, in the cinema, when it comes to making up the final sound track, there are always many original tapes - the sound of a car arriving at the beach, for example, the voices of the actors getting out of it and saying "I love you" or the opposite, the sound of the waves behind them, maybe a cock crowing in a nearby farm, and some music. That makes five tracks... and I have only two hands to manipulate them... if I had only one arm, maybe I'd have only a single sound track. All this business of having the various sounds marching up in front of you like soldiers is called mixing and I can only control it with the two hands I have. "
G.B.: The attempt to find out how far one can go in breaking down the traditional ways of making films here carries Godard to self-imposed extremes: He says, for example, that he can use only two sound tracks because he has only two hands. So, when the two tracks are taken up by music and the sound of the waves, there is no track for dialogue and the actors mouth their lines in silence. And mixing is against his grain, too, so sounds (including musical cadences) stop and start in the middle. Not to speak of the disconnectedness of images long his trademark. "
Gideon Bachamann/Jean-Luc Godard
"Dubbing? I hate it. I think it is only in rich countries that films are dubbed. In underdeveloped countries they are not.
Sometimes I think dubbing or subtitles are not so good. For instance, they showed Blow Up on the plane from New York, and I looked at it without the earphones. It was much more beautiful silent."
"No, sound is not a complement of the image. Well, maybe sometimes - but maybe sometimes the image is only the complement of sound. And maybe sometimes they are both together. When you are speaking now, your face is very synchronous to your language. I see no difference. (..) Sound is not a language. Sound is everything. A picture can go without any images on the screen for some time - just sound. Or only with silent images. It depends on what you want to tell. It's only a matter of technique."
"I think in Bresson´s meaning, "écritu" has more value than just shooting a movie. For Bresson - who is very much Catholic - when he uses the word "écritu", which means "writing" instead of "shooting", it's a bit as if someone were entering into a religion. It's a matter of austere investigation and examination. I think that's waht he means. His technique is very severe and very painful, and it's not a method usually considered when people are speaking of movies. So he says "écritu". It's like when you speak of music - very often you say "writing". Bresson often compares what he is doing in movies with what other people are doing in music. To him a movie is just like music. And when he says I'm writing my movie, it's just like The Beatles or Mozart when they say I'm writing music."
"And what I wanted was to have what I would call "fundamental" music. I wanted music which had marked the history of music itself, both its practice and theory (..) music which stand for all the theory and all the practice of music which has so far existed, and which gives work to all the musicians of past and present throughout history."