“Revolution is (not) a dinner party” - nostalgia for an apolitical art? | Michel Hazanavicius’s redoubtable (2017) as contemporary ‘nostalgia film’

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Michel Hazanavicius’s Redoubtable (2017) – entitled Godard Mon Amour for itsUS release – offers a heavily stylised, comic take on the relationship betweenrenowned Franco-Swiss film director, Jean-Luc Godard, and his second wife,Anne Wiazemsky, in the year leading up to the revolutionary upheaval of May’68. This research – as part of an ongoing PhD project – seeks to frame thefilm within the context of broader theories of postmodernism where it will beargued that Redoubtable serves as an excellent contemporary example of‘nostalgia film’ (Jameson, 1991). The film’s hyper-stylised depiction of late 1960sFrance evocatively framed in vivid primary colours (à la Godard) typifies FredricJameson’s description of the role of the ‘nostalgia film’ “in which the tone and styleof a whole epoch becomes, in effect, the central character” (1991, 369) whilst therevolutionary events of May ’68 are recast as a farcical, carnivalesque backdropto the comedic plot and the political engagement of the film director is deridedin retrospect as the height of foolish hedonism. This, it will be suggested, is notonly a feature of what Jameson (1998) has elsewhere called ‘historical amnesia’ -contemporary culture’s general inability to properly represent the past in anythingother than superficial images - but that it may also be suggestive of a ‘nostalgia’,in the more traditional sense of the word, for a depoliticised, neutral, or evenapolitical art. Following on from Svetlana Boym’s provocative assertion that “thetwentieth century began with utopia and ended with nostalgia” (2007, 7), the film,Redoubtable, will be firmly understood as continuing the spirit which characterisedthe end of the 20th century in the eyes of Boym. Yet, on the other hand, this research will also aim to engage with the problematic notion of the ‘contemporary’,especially as framed by Giorgio Agamben, as an understanding of historical time –somewhat in the tradition of Walter Benjamin (1999/1940) - which like fashion, can“recall, revoke, and revitalise that which it had declared dead” (Agamben, 2009,50). For whilst Redoubtable would seem to provide us with an empty pastiche ofthe radical historical moment of May ’68, it just might also offer the opportunity fora (re)engagement with the dominant ideas and themes of the era it so sardonicallydepicts.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2024
EventSpring Seminar 2024: History(ies) of Art - Escola das Artes, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Porto, Portugal
Duration: 8 May 202410 May 2024


ConferenceSpring Seminar 2024: History(ies) of Art
Internet address


  • Jean-Luc Godard
  • Postmodernism
  • Nostalgia
  • Contemporary
  • Kitsch
  • Revolution


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