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Letter to Jane: An Investigation About a Still (1972)

Letter to Jane (1972) is a postscript film to Tout va bien directed by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin and made under the auspices of the Dziga Vertov Group. Narrated in a ... See full summary »

Directors:

Groupe Dziga Vertov, Jean-Luc Godard (uncredited) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Uncredited cast:
Marlon Brando ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Moshe Dayan ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
James Dean ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Maria Falconetti ... Herself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Henry Fonda ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Jane Fonda ... Herself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Lillian Gish ... Herself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Jean-Luc Godard ... Narrator (voice) (uncredited)
Jean-Pierre Gorin Jean-Pierre Gorin ... Narrator (voice) (uncredited)
Ernesto 'Che' Guevara ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Golda Meir ... Herself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Yves Montand ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Richard Nixon ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
John Wayne ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
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Storyline

Letter to Jane (1972) is a postscript film to Tout va bien directed by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin and made under the auspices of the Dziga Vertov Group. Narrated in a back-and-forth style by both Godard and Gorin, the film serves as a 52-minute cinematic essay that deconstructs a single news photograph of Jane Fonda in Vietnam. This was Godard and Gorin's final collaboration. Written by ubuweb film

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French | English

Release Date:

10 October 1972 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Lettre à Jane See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Sonimage See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Jane Fonda image motif of this film was taken by Joseph Kraft and published on L'Express on August 1972. See more »

Quotes

Narrator: The camera took this photograph from a low-angle. Actually in the history of cinema this low point of view cannot be considered an innocent one. This fact has been emphasized technically and socially by Orson Wells in his first pictures. The choice of frame is not neutral or innocent either. The frame is composed in relation to the actress who is looking, rather than in relation to what she is looking at. She is presented in the frame as if she were a star... The following page shows ...
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Connections

References Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Hanoi Jane Mugged by a Pair of Patronising Marxist Bullies
27 July 2016 | by richardchattenSee all my reviews

It came as quite a surprise to me to realise that I had until recently never actually seen this much-discussed polemic from Godard's radical phase. The fact that the commentary was delivered by Godard himself and Jean-Pierre Gorin in English was another surprise, as I had no idea that Godard spoke English.

As the film progressed I became angrier and angrier at the fact that Godard & Gorin never drew back to let us see the whole photograph for ourselves. Early on in the film (before we've had time to get our bearings), a slightly fuller version of the picture appears as part of the original 'L'Express' article in which it appeared; so we know that the picture extends further than Godard & Gorin subsequently permit us to see - but we never see the picture in anything approaching its entirety ever again. Instead Godard & Gorin show us only what they want us to see, while on the soundtrack they didactically ramble on and on; mercilessly bludgeoning the audience with egregious digressions, non sequiturs and name-dropping. It's as if some officious bore were sitting opposite you holding an 8 by 10 copy of the original picture which they insist on describing to you in great but selective detail; but every time you try to get it off them so you can have a look at it for yourself pulls away and never lets you have it.

This sort of stunt might have worked during the seventies when you were seated in a cinema and couldn't replay any of the film on DVD or YouTube. But thanks to the internet, as soon as I got home after the screening I was able to immediately look up the full uncropped picture on Google Images; and the enormity of Godard & Gorin's offense was revealed. Godard & Gorin go on and on AND ON in a wildly speculative fashion (confident assertions beginning "In fact" or "We couldn't help observing" or "We have proved" rubbing shoulders with frequent caveats like "We think" and "In our opinion") about the man in the white shirt in the background with his face grainily blown up to show only him; and yet almost completely ignore the man in the pith helmet in the foreground that Fonda is actually concentrating upon. Furthermore, nobody watching 'Letter to Jane' ever sees that on the right of the original photograph there is in fact another woman listening; and only at the beginning of the film can we see that Fonda is holding a camera.

So it's a bit rich of Godard & Gorin to sanctimoniously accuse 'L'Express' of deliberate lying and manipulation while they themselves are throughout wilfully withholding information from the viewer


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