Godard-Gorin’s Wind from the East
Looking at a film politically

by Julia Lesage

from Jump Cut, no. 4, 1974, pp. 18-23
copyright Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 1974, 2004

In a witty section entitled “Education” in the film WIND FROM THE EAST (Vent d'Est), a union official—dressed in a vest and fancy coat and looking like a plantation owner out of a Hollywood film—and “Miss Althusser” give out books to the inhabitants of the Third World. The voice over calls the union delegate a “revisionist school teacher,” collaborating to support “the ideological domination of the bourgeoisie.” (1) The following is a section from that scene:

Union official (in Italian) reading the book title: How to Read Das Kapital. Good. (Writing a dedication in the book): In friendship and regard for the inhabitants of the Third World: (He hands it to the Indian, then stops him as he is about to go off.) One moment. Start at chapter two.”

“The Indian puts a piece of meat between the pages and bites into it like a sandwich as he goes off. Camera moves with him showing another table, beside which is piled an assortment of weaponry including a machine gun and two or three rifles.”

Female Voice Over: What did the revisionist schoolteacher just say? He said: ‘Read Das Kapital.’ He did not ask you to use it. Use it. He criticizes the defects of the people, but he does not do this from the people’s point of view. By treating a comrade like you do an enemy, he has taken the position of the enemy.”

What is being conveyed in this scene? As a matter of fact, this brief moment from WIND FROM THE EAST is rather typical of the film’s indictment of the French and Italian Old Left. The Union official stands for the Communist Party. He doesn't say this explicitly, but any Continental audience would know that the major trade union federations in France (U.S. equivalent: AFL-CIO) are effectively controlled by the CP. In the union bureaucracy, party membership and loyalty are expected and enforced. The directors of the film are drawing on the fact that the Parti Communiste Française (PCF) has had the total hatred of the student left since the May-June 1968 events. At that time, the party withdrew support from the strike and had its union bureaucrats get workers back on the job, thus breaking the strike.

The book given here is part of the indictment. Louis Althusser, the author, is the leading Marxist theoretician in the PCF, and the book is particularly theoretical. The film’s directors wittily underlined the authorship by having the Union official take the book from Anna Wiazemsky, playing “Miss Althusser.” The Union official’s dedication also makes a point, for rather than stressing the spirit of comradeship and solidarity with the people of the Third World, the official stresses friendship and regard for its inhabitants. In Marxist-Leninist vocabulary, the difference is profound. It means that the PCF does not actively support Third World liberation struggles, but rather contents itself with gestures of humanistic concern.

The Indian’s response, a great visual gag, implicitly criticizes the gift: physical needs are more important in a revolution than theoretical documents. As Brecht was fond of saying, “Grub first, then ethics.” The contrast is made between the PCF’s books and the Third World’s guns, while the voice over makes explicit the preceding criticisms. (“Revisionist” is a jargon slur world applied equally to the Soviet Union and the western communist parties by the non-CP left. The basic idea is that the Leninist promise of the Russian Revolution has been betrayed by the CP’s accommodation with bourgeois capitalism.) The last two sentences are phrased semantically and syntactically in ways which identify them as Maoist.

This segment of the film shows several of the film’s most striking aspects: its solid basis in a specific historical moment (post-May-June l968) and thus its Maoist response to the PCF, its assertion of armed struggle and the importance of the Third World, visual stereotyping (the film is partly a Western and the union official wears a fancy western frock coat and tie, so we identify him as “revisionist” by his bourgeois clothing), and explicit commentary on the visual/audio track.

I wish to begin discussing the film with this example not because it expresses major elements but rather because implicitly raises a very deep question about the Godard-Gorin Dziga Vertov Group films.

“By treating a comrade like you treat an enemy, he has taken the position of the enemy.”

This Godard-Gorin charge against the PCF is precisely the strongest one which can be leveled against them in a left political critique of their film. For to many it seems that the effect of making such a dense and complicated film, both politically and cinematically, is to treat a comrade (the film viewer) like you treat an enemy.

This in fact was my first reaction to the film, as I saw it among an U.S. audience composed equally of Godard lovers and campus radicals. Who are Godard and Gorin, anyway, that they can make a film that is so cinematically complex that it is totally confusing to the average film viewer, and only partially intelligible to the sophisticated cineaste? And which is so politically complicated that a sympathetic viewer cannot comprehend it on one viewing? I compared Godard and Gorin, with their command of production and distribution resources, compared them to radical U.S. filmmakers such as Newsreel and feminist groups, and concluded that WIND FROM THE EAST was self-indulgent to the point of being masturbatory and politically jejune.

In terms of the film’s immediate political usefulness as an organizing tool, I still consider the above evaluation valid. But I've discovered there is much more to be said, not so much about the film in and of itself, but the film in the context of the issues it raises. WIND FROM THE EAST is a remarkable film precisely because it cannot be seen and reacted to except in an explicitly political way. One cannot separate the form from the content, one cannot talk or think about the formal part, the style, without becoming explicitly political. (In contrast, many happily discuss Eisenstein’s form separated from his politics.) WIND FROM THE EAST is one of the first films from which the bourgeoisie cannot learn anything except the poverty of their own cinema.

What is the audience response to WIND FROM THE EAST? Let me first establish the necessary conditions for there to be any receptive response at all to this “difficult” film. First of all, since the film rejects traditional narrative conventions and refuses to let its audience “inside” it, it is not a Bazinian “window on the world” which most people expect when they go to the cinema. The most likely audience for WIND FROM THE EAST is that educated segment of the middle class familiar with and receptive to twentieth century avant-garde art. However, the twentieth century revolutions in poetry (surrealism), the theatre (Brecht, the absurd), the novel (Joyce, nouveau roman), music (electronic), painting (abstract expressionism) have not had a parallel in mainstream feature films until Jean-Luc Godard’s attacks on and expansion of cinematic form. Thus those people who even go to see WIND FROM THE EAST have probably followed Godard’s career—although they might now reject WIND FROM THE EAST.

Godard and Gorin’s intent in making WIND FROM THE EAST was specifically Brechtian. One can paraphrase Brecht’s famous table in the Preface to Mahogonny comparing epic and dramatic theater to apply it to WIND FROM THE EAST.(2) WIND FROM THE EAST rejects plot; it offers the audience a picture of the world rather than something to experience emotionally. It turns the audience into observers and forces them out of participating in a dramatic situation; they are made to face something rather than be involved in it. The film refuses to provide the audience with sensations or work on instinctive feelings. Rather, the audience comes to the recognition of where they are at inside bourgeois ideology as the film provokes critical thought. They are standing outside the action, studying it. There are no personages with fixed characters whose naturalness is taken for granted. Humans are seen as a process, not a fixed point. They are the object of inquiry—their social being in the world “outside” being related to the image of human beings in the film. Linear development is rejected and each scene stands for itself, rather than leading inevitably to the next, in the Aristotelian sense. Reason predominates over feeling, and social being determines thought.

Once having decided to see the film, audiences must submit to WIND FROM THE EAST’s internal form—the struggle between sound and image. The images are flat and schematic, a “deconstruction” of the images of bourgeois film. The sound track, the explanation over the images, provides what explanation there is for the images. It explains how the film is using images that represent an Italian Western, and that the film will “deconstruct” these traditional images and cinematic form in general in order to reflect politically on the real contradictions in cinematic practice, in particular on U.S. cultural imperialism. The film has to be appreciated shot by shot, image by image, as an object of study in its relations with the other images.

Although the statements on the sound track bring out unnoticed articulations, the audience has to fight its desire to see the cinema as something natural or as a story. This film rejects the stance of an innocent or naive film and demands the same of the viewers, that is, to leave their naive days of living inside a film behind. We cannot sit back and absorb this film but must bring our critical faculties into play in order to receive what the film has to say. WIND FROM THE EAST is self-critical, as well as being a critique of bourgeois cinema. And as the sound track interprets, identifies, and sometimes even denounces the images, so too the audience must bring its own knowledge of cinematic imagery to the film in order to evaluate Godard’s visual irony and critique.

Here, to illustrate this point, is an example from the film. In the early part of the film, the sound track of two female voices over tell the history of cinema, particularly revolutionary cinema. The camera shows some of the film’s major symbolic figures as they are being made up, but the act of making up itself is of significance. A white man playing the Indian streaks thick gobs of brightly colored makeup on his face. In the course of the film, he will represent the oppressed. At the same time, as the young woman gets made up, the voice over states:

“The people make history. The films of the Western hemisphere only portray elegant ladies and gentlemen.

“The young woman smiles—a careful rehearsed smile.

“Actors are forced to express the corrupt ideas of the bourgeois, i.e.; under the cover of makeup, they unscrupulously depict the degenerate ways of bourgeois life. All this is done with the excuse that they are expressing fundamental feelings and instincts.” (p. 125)  

The audience must pick up on the intent of even more complicated uses of the sound track, often witty. In Brechtian fashion, Godard often has an event narrated in third person while the camera remains fixed on one simple image in a long take, a distanciation effect which will hinder identification with the incident. An example of this distanciation which comes from a long, static take is the opening scene, where the camera stays about eight minutes on a couple lying in a field, the woman wearing a flounced white petticoat, their hands chained. Finally the female voice over reminiscences from the point of view of the manager’s family about a strike that took place in her childhood in “the Alcoa Co. near Dodge City,” in which the union official sold out the workers. The two female voices over give a long history of revolutionary cinema. Similarly, in a later scene a male voice over discusses a strike in the third person, while the image is one of the cavalryman oppressing the Indian, and this story is continued by the female voice off.

In another scene the female voices over relate incidents about members of the bourgeoisie who as individuals brutally turned against the working class. This scene starts with a discussion of Suzanne Monet, who wrote a letter to Figaro protesting that her husband couldn't paint in the Gare St. Lazare because of the striking workers. At this point the audience laughs because of the obvious pun on the visual image, which is an idyllic country scene of a woman dressed in a pink dress holding a parasol, and a man, the union official, dressed in a fine jacket and bending courteously over her—just like a Monet painting. Other examples of distanced statements delivered by the voices over are many short statements about historical events, political analysis and prescriptions for political action, and a letter from a striking worker to a friend. In this instance, the accompanying visual image is a static close up of the young man, now begrimed with blood, seen in profile with a (threatening?) hand, perhaps that of the cavalryman, resting on his shoulder.

The voices over also take up a discussion of people’s medicine in China and a critique of workers’ “autonomy” in Yugoslavia. In the latter scene, each line of critique on Yugoslavia is read over a red freeze frame which alternates with a scratched-up picture of the production company accompanied by the sound of confused voices. Godard had gotten money for the film on the grounds that he would make a film with the major leaders of the May uprisings, including the exiled Danny Cohn-Bendit and the leaders from the outlawed Maoist groups. The crew had banded together as a “general assembly” in the summer of 1969 to make this film as a theoretical review of May-June 1968. Most of the people who went to Italy with Godard probably saw making this film as a major political act since much student radicalism had been suppressed in France. On location, they decided to work together as a non-hierarchical collective, filming on the basis of political discussion and group consensus.

However, the general assembly of filmmakers gathered to make WIND FROM THE EAST never did function effectively together as a radical filmmaking collective—and WIND FROM THE EAST was shaped in the editing and sound mix—done later by Godard and Gorin. The sound track and the mutilated image implicitly critique not only the general assembly’s role in making the film but also Godard and Gorin’s intent in editing it. Both the voice over with its critique of the Yugoslav system of workers’ “autonomy” and the scratched-up images of the crew work together to distance us from this general assembly—in whom we would otherwise have a natural interest and, for French audiences, greatly admire since they were the leaders of the Paris actions.

The fact that two female voices (off) spoke the correct ideas s refreshing to an U.S. radical audience in that it implies an anti-sexist approach among the young French militants from May 1968 who had grouped together in Italy to make this film. However, for a French audience, the fact that women’s voices speak the radical explanations may just be more of be more of Godard-Gorin’s distancing. The directors, in adding the post-sync sound tract, may just have been banking on the absence of women in leadership positions in radical organizations, so that the sound of women’s voices giving the radical rap was an estrangement effect. These voices are not to be accepted as the Truth, but as lessons on an aural blackboard—to consider but also amend. Obviously, as in the sections quoted above on cinematic acting, and on the Indian receiving a copy of Althusser’s book, the rhetoric is overblown, slogans and simple prescriptions stated, and parts of the statement repeated ritualistically. Yet, even in this seeming simplicity, there is a constant reference to other texts, to Althusser, to Mao (especially in the parallel construction, simple statements of principle, and imperative sentences), and to Lenin.

In a section where two young people, a man and a woman are filmed on a grassy field, with images interspersed of “Que faire?” (Lenin’s “What Is To Be Done?” ) There is a short ironic dialogue between the two. Following a high angle close up of the young man lying around looking up at the sky, they talk of the worker-student alliance, distributing pamphlets at the factory gate, and end with the gag: “Then the students will see that the workers get up early. “ (repeated) “Then the workers will see that the students get up early.”

After another image of “Que faire?” , the young woman is shown wearing a red skirt, and the female voice over gives a commentary which presumably is her speech. This speech assumes the audience’s familiarity with “What Is To Be Done?” and also Lenin’s “Left Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder,” as well as Mao’s distinction between primary and secondary contradictions. The speech is prescriptive in its sentence structure, ending on repetition (as if one were to follow Lenin exactly—as in China, the masses expect to follow the writings of Chairman Mao). Even if one generally agrees with this application of Lenin to the French student left, what is to be noticed is the style of political discourse within the film, a style begun by Godard in LA CHINOISE, which—with its prescriptions, blunt statements of right and wrong, and ritualistic repetitions—has a distancing effect. This is what the directors want—the political information is not to be absorbed as natural, but rather received critically, weighted against the image, and thought about in terms of one’s own political practice.

Female Voice Over: What are we going to do? Think left. Read Lenin’s text, which is generally used by the revisionists to show those of the left up as agitators. Note that Lenin does not confound a secondary danger with a primary one. Agree with Lenin that the primary danger lies in social democratic treason and the secondary one in leftism, the childish, Infantile illness of communism. Note that Lenin spoke for a left wing worker’s movement and not for a left wing student movement. Start from this, attack leftism whenever and wherever it occurs in Leninist positions. Leninist, Leninist, Leninist.” (p. 133)

Much is demanded from the audience in the way they react to the visual images of the film. The images of the woman in the petticoat, the Cavalryman, and the Indian are drawn from U.S. cinema. In WIND FROM THE EAST, the initial reaction is to be bored with these images, because nothing seems to happen with them. The whole film seems horribly static because Godard and Gorin use every trick they can to keep us out of these visuals, particularly in French left reactions to Bazin’s admiration for composition in depth as a “window on the world.”

In the treatment of the image in WIND FROM THE EAST, the intent is specifically Brechtian. Prohibiting audience identification, fantasy, participation in the image is intended to awaken the audience’s critical capacity. What the average filmmaker shows as natural, Godard and Gorin question in order to reveal previously hidden ideological articulations. If we accept any image as “natural” , the ideology behind that image then goes unquestioned. Rather than showing images tied together by a narrative, where the narrative imposes a single interpretation on the image, Godard and Gorin present each shot, each fragment, each image as an object of study: in itself, in its interrelation with the other images in the film, in its reference to cinema, and in its reference to all the visual codes of the “real” world (which codes cinema has done a lot to shape).

In many ways the images are “invocations” of established representational or iconic codes, and a comment on these codes. People having make-up put on them in the woods equal bourgeois actors; the man with Van Gogh-like gobs of colored paint smeared on his face is the Indian, who then becomes an image of the guerilla fighter against bourgeois oppression. Towards the end of the film, as the female voice over discusses sexual oppression as the principle secondary contradiction in western society (Labor vs. capital is the primary contradiction), the young woman in the pink bustle dress (seen in the Monet scene) is shown eating from the same plate as the Cavalryman and they talk—in Italian—overlapping the words of the commentary. The woman’s lines are about rules of politeness: wash, your, hands before eating, be polite to your father, etc. The Cavalryman’s lines are all vulgar expressions “unfitting for the mouth of a lady.” What the image of the woman eating out of the man’s plate shows is the bourgeois woman’s dependence on the male, similar in intent to the first image of the bourgeois couple lying on the ground with their hands chained together. That there is an alternative is expressed by the entirety of the sound track, with the female voices giving prescriptions for revolution.

Even if one can appreciate what Godard and Gorin are doing with sound/image, WIND FROM THE EAST is so constructed that the audience cannot or will not “receive” the film unless they can or will also deal with the realities of the historical situation in France in 1968 and the film’s political reflection on cinema and bourgeois ideology. Representatives of almost all the factions of May-June 1568 gathered in Italy to make WIND FROM THE EAST collectively, yet the contradictions between them (which should have come out and been resolved in the discussions before the film was made) were so great, that Godard and Gorin just had to accept this fight and—after winning it-incorporate into the film several scenes which

“reflect the subjective incapacity of these comrades at the time of the film to produce the analyses for which they had invoked the necessity.” (3)

In one scene, already mentioned, Godard and Gorin scratched up the film stock shot of the general assembly, or film crew. On the one hand, they may have scratched the film to represent its materiality at the point of production. Yet the scratched film also represents the failure of collective production, perhaps here expressed by Godard and Gorin in an abrasive an insulting way. We hear snatches of voices telling how to make the film, but there is no coherent picture of ideas being worked out in the general assembly as a whole.

In another scene, a key scene in which there is an auto-critique of the film, the members of the film company are seen in long shot arguing among themselves. Another shot is shown of two pictures pinned to the door of a wooden shed, one of a Pepsi Cola ad and another of Stalin and Mao, taken from an Italian newspaper. The words “Wanted for Murder“are painted around Stalin and Mao. An argument ensues as to whether or not to use Stalin’s picture. Then the female voice over asks why there are images of people arguing, confused sounds, and parts of a poster of Stalin and Mao. She goes on to discuss the genesis of the film and says that there would be “a discussion al the making of images and sounds which in the film would depict the same scenes of the general assembly.” In this case they were to discuss images of repression.

But why an image of Stalin and Mao together—plus “Wanted for Murder” ? In fact, many of the members of the group had been associated with one of two youth groups during May 1968. One was a splinter from the Communist Party that broke off over the question of Stalin, equating desalinization with the rise of revisionism in Russia. Another was a youth group that had broken off from an Althusser-oriented socialist group reading Marx’s Capital. It formed after the Chinese Cultural Revolution and took as its task the application of Maoist thought specifically to the French scene. There is a visual joke here played on the French Marxist-Leninist groups that could also apply to the often humorless M-L groups in the United States—calling both Stalin and Mao crooks, but Stalin a bit more so. The picture of Stalin is not rejected, but is shown with black bars over his face; however, the argument is not resolved. Finally, the group equates the question of Stalinism with that of socialist realism. Godard and Gorin’s interest obviously lies more in questioning socialist realism and realist form than in the political differences between the various groups.

Young man: It’s always the same. You are anti-Stalinist, but you still make Stalinist images.”

“Various shots of the posters and the title, in red and black letters: IT'S NOT A JUST IMAGE, IT'S JUST AN IMAGE.”

Female Voice Over: Stalinist images. Just consider the problem. There is a positive side to everything that has happened: like having shown that an image in itself is nothing, that there is no image outside the context of the class struggle. Having shown this with an image of Stalin. Negative aspect: not having found the right image ...”

“Repetition of title: ‘It’s not a just image, it’s just an image,’ with the word ‘REPRESSION’ overlaid and repeated over and over again.” (p. 143)

Godard and Gorin’s message—in the voice over and in the title—is that the entirety of WIND FROM THE EAST is a search for JUST images and sounds, and that if something is “JUST AN IMAGE,” it is automatically repressive as an extension of bourgeois (or revisionist) ideological control.

WIND FROM THE EAST is a self-critical film in its entirety, not merely in the fact that around the middle of the film we see the actors and film crew engaged in a criticism/self-criticism   session. For example, one segment shows the Cavalryman riding his horse, dragging the Indian along by means of a rope around the Indian’s neck. (The sequence runs from the title that ends with “The A Theory” to the sequence with Glauber Rocha.) The initial shot is a low angle, one of trees against a sky. This shot is a Godard motif, recurring in many of his films, particularly those shot in color. In the period of TWO OR THREE THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER and WEEKEND, the shot seems to be used ironically, contrasting the romantic associations of nature with the anti-romantic action and dialogue, and interrupting Godard’s usual eye-level horizontal camera work which dominates the film with a low angle, dramatization of the image. In WIND FROM THE EAST Godard goes beyond irony and has a voice over directly comment on the image.

“Hollywood shows this in the form of cinema, as something wonderful, dreamlike, for which you have to pay admission. But this dream is also a weapon in Hollywood’s hands.”

The shot changes to the Cavalryman and Indian. By this point in the film we know that the Cavalryman is not a Cavalryman, the Indian is not an Indian: both are actors. Thus our response cannot be simple in any way, but emphatically is, “This is an image which is not a standard western image, but a comment on that standard image.” The voice over continues, explicitly making the point.

“Hollywood makes you believe that this movie Indian is more real than an Indian and that the extra on horseback is more real than a Union soldier.”

The same shot is then repeated with the voice over commenting on the disguise of reality inherent in such an image. Because the visual scene looks rehearsed and the Indian’s costume vaguely suggests, but does not adequately imitate the usual Hollyood Indian costume, the visual track grates against itself. This functions like the familiar Godardian ketchup or paint representing blood (and always looking exactly like ketchup or paint). The visual track has its own distancing, which is then emphasized by the voice over. The two characters/actors are then seen from a different angle, with the Cavalryman shouting (in Italian), “I am General Motor.”

Here we have not simply the familiar Godardian punning, as in say, 2 OR 3 THINGS, where the U.S. war correspondent announces he is “John Bogus.” Rather the punning is linked to the depiction of U.S. imperialism, and General Motors is part of it. In Marxist terms the state (here the military) is the apparatus of the economic system (General Motors is capitalism and imperialism).

The camera then tilts upward and surveys the trees and sky again, but seeing it this time our response includes the knowledge that this is a comment on idealism “in” cinematic images. We are not “drawn in” to admire nature, but distanced from, and critical of, the image we are presented with. The voice over continues that Soviet film repeats the same images (and thereby in form the same ideology) as Hollywood. (Two examples I can think of would be the sentimentality and lyricism of THE CRANES ARE FLYING and BALLAD OF A YOUNG SOLDIER,). The voice over criticizes “progressive cinema” of the Third World on the same basis.

“But is the progressive cinema examining this relationship (of images and sounds) seriously? Where does this relationship come from? How does it work? From whom? For whom? And against whom?”

The shot is then repeated, and the voice over elaborates on the same topic. A third shot of the Cavalryman and Indian is shown, and then repeated, as the voice over criticizes the avant-garde and underground cinema: “A cinema without taboos, except against the class struggle.”

This portion of WIND FROM THE EAST, like all of the film, is too dense for comprehension on first viewing, or even second viewing. The criticism of Soviet and underground film, however valid, is not convincing. But the criticism of Hollywood, that is the bourgeois cinema, is devastating, particularly with the visuals as well as the voice over making the point. After seeing this sequence and understanding it (and that takes several viewings, I feel), I found I cannot ever have the same kind of empathetic response to a Hollywood image as I had before. WIND FROM THE EAST functions as a political education of our experience of films to inhibit naive response not only to itself, but to other films as well.

Yet if the audience does learn from the Dziga Vertov group films to see, all images in terms of class, this would mean the death of bourgeois cinema, as was predicted in WEEKEND.(4) Brecht had hoped his radical “distanced” theatre would be a call to action, would awaken people to a real (not ideological) understanding of their social relations and show them the “humanness” of society and thus their capacity to change it. Godard and Gorin were, as Brecht was in the theatre, aware of the need to combat bourgeois images in the making of militant films, to find forms and images that correspond to real social relations. “We don't seek new forms,” Godard said in an interview in 1970, “but new rapports. Form comes from certain social conditions ... the struggle between contradictions.” (5) In this interview, he admitted that the Dziga Vertov group, was concerned with revolutionary production of films, not distribution, and that the group knew when they formed that “perhaps only two or three companions would see the films,” which would be an inevitable situation for a year or two.(6) In practice, Godard and Gorin, who owned copies of their films, were accessible to French radicals to whom they liked to show and “discuter” their work on a high political level. However, they rejected the work of the French filmmakers Chris Marker and Marin Karmitz, who are specifically making films with the proletariat, as being bourgeois in form and insufficient in political analysis. (7)

Many other members of the French left and British and U.S. left reject Godard and Gorin for their “intellectualism.” What Godard and Gorin did achieve is a complete cinematic/visual ideological re-education, particularly necessary at this point in history. Bourgeois hegemony (or as Godard and Gorin pointed out, in socialist countries, revisionist hegemony) is even further entrenched in a technological society because media images dominate and inform our own. It is not from the working class that we should expect the necessary ideological re-evaluation of media images, since the working class has more urgent material battles to fight. Yet the images must be challenged. This may be the specific task of intellectuals like Godard and Gorin and the sympathetic viewers of WIND FROM THE EAST.

Obviously Godard and Gorin must face the political critique of elitism and intellectualism, for they admittedly have made films for a very small audience. However, since the socialist revolution in France seemed a long way off, Godard and Gorin took upon themselves the Brechtian task of opposing bourgeois ideology in both the form and content of feature films. They knew that would not make the revolution, but saw it as a necessary step particularly with the historical French experience with the CP.

WIND FROM THE EAST is not a film for organizing the proletariat, but is important for anyone who really feels involved in either cinema and/or politics. The Dziga Vertov films set out to and—if absorbed—do restructure one’s entire way of thinking about film. Rather then being the “End of cinema,” (the last title in WEEKEND), it is the “End of bourgeois cinema” and the freedom to shape images about social relations as they are.


1. All citations to the film taken from the text published by Simon and Schuster in their Modern Film Scripts Series: Weekend and Wind from the East: Two Films by Jean-Luc Godard (New York, 1972). The description of the visuals is precise and extremely useful. Nicholas Fry, Marianne Sinclair and Danielle Adkinson are responsible for the text. For an abbreviated French version of the text of WIND FROM THE EAST, see Cahiers du cinéma #240 (Paris, July-August, 1972). This script is interesting because it divides the lines up into “bourgeois, minority, and revisionist texts” or “revolutionary voices.” In future citations, the English text will be referred to as WIND FROM THE EAST. Here, page 166.

2. See John Willet’s translations of Brecht’s theoretical writings, Brecht on Theater (New York, 1966), p. 37. Also Peter Wollen’s “Counter Cinema: Vent d'Est,” Afterimage 4 (Autumn, 1972) p. 7, for a similar comparison.

3. Gerard Leblanc, “Sur trois films du Groupe Dziga Vertov,” VH 101 #6, 1972, p. 32 (Paris). This article is an historical analysis of the Dziga Vertov group and its films by the editor of Cinéthique

4. See Brian Henderson’s, “Towards a Non-Bourgeois Camera Style,” Film Quarterly, 24:2 (Winter 1971-1972), pp. 2 ff., and Brian Henderson, “WEEKEND and History,” Socialist Revolution No. 12 (Vol. 2, No. 6), (San Francisco, November-December, 1972), pp. 57-92.

5. Godard’s interview with Marcel Martin of Cinéma 70, No. 151, (Paris, December, 1970) on “Groupe ‘Dziga Vertov” and subtitled “Jean-Luc Godard parle au nom de ses comrades du groupe: Jean Pierre Gorin, Gerard Martin, Nathalie Billard, et Armand Marco.” In a discussion in Paris in summer, 1972, Gorin told me that he personally had edited WIND FROM THE EAST.

6. Cinéma 70, p. 84.

7. Following both a French Maoist and Brechtian line, Cahiers du Cinéma and Cinéthique reject films, even if effective for organizing the proletariat, that depend on identification and elicit a simple emotional response.