Critical Notebook 1970–1982
216 pp., 6 x 9 in, 28 b&w illus.
- Published: December 12, 2023
- Publisher: Semiotext(e)
The early essays of the most influential French film critic of the post-68 period.
The Footlights (1983) was the first book by Serge Daney, a film critic admired in his lifetime by Gilles Deleuze and Jean-Luc Godard and recognized since his premature death in 1992 as the most important French writer on film after André Bazin. The Footlights stands apart in Daney's body of work as the only collection of his essays he conceived of as a book, organizing his seminal pieces from Cahiers du Cinéma by theme and linking them with original texts that reflect in a personal voice on the doubts, battles, and illuminations of a generation of film lovers inspired by the explorations of Lacanian theory and roused by the collective aspirations of Maoist dogma. In pieces on fellow travelers Godard and Straub/Huillet, on films ranging from Pasolini's Saló to Spielberg's Jaws, and on the difference between film language and television discourse, Daney offers a definitive portrait of an era of radical hope and disappointment.
Daney was the most significant writer to emerge from the generational milieu that gave rise to the French New Wave... Our own era is eager to beautify or sensationalize suffering, but Daney offers a different vision, best exemplified by his active gaze. He insists that we take the image seriously as not just a productive way of looking at art, but as a way of better understanding our own place in life.
Daney's prose, with its keen insights into individual films and the cinema as concept and practice, is original and transformative, a must-read for serious cinephiles and anyone else who believes in the ongoing tale of cinema.
A. S. Hamrah