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Peter Harcourt

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Giò Abate
Gilbert Adair
Alvaro Arroba
Helen Bandis
Cyril Béghin
Janet Bergstrom
Yvette Bíró
Bertrand Bonello
Fabien Boully
Nicole Brenez
Rex Butler
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Jean-Pierre Coursodon
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Thomas Elsaesser
Chris Fujiwara
Ruy Gardnier
Roger Garcia
Charlotte Garson
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Augustin Gimel
Philippe Grandrieux
Eugène Green
Paul Hammond
Peter Harcourt
Shigehiko Hasumi
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Adrian Martin
Fermin Martínez
David Matarasso
Grant McDonald
Meaghan Morris
V F Perkins
Douglas Pye
Mark Rappaport
Jackie Raynal
Jonathan Rosenbaum
William D. Routt
Jayce Salloum
Clemente Sobourin
François Thomas
Jean-Baptiste Thoret
Peter Tscherkassky
Johanna Vaude
Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Manuel Yáñez
Andrei Zelitsky








Armide (Jean-Luc Godard)
from Aria (1987)


Since the time of the Troubadours, romantic love has thrived upon the denial of desire within the promise of the gaze. Nowhere has this enduring foolishness flourished more than in opera.

Jean-Baptiste Lully was the founder of French opera. Although Armide (1686) lasts a full four hours, Godard successfully captures its essence in only twelve minutes. With a deferential nod to the gymnasium sequence in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), Godard shuffles back and forth between Acts II and III of the opera, concentrating upon the conflict between love and duty, between la Passion and la Gloire.

The setting is, indeed, a gymnasium, with the sounds of the modern city seeping in from outside. The water nymphs of the original are transformed into cleaning ladies, scrubbing away with their pails of water, then dusting and dancing among the indifferent men. The role of Armide is divided between these two women (Marion Peterson and Valérie Allain), one of whom is so besotted with one of the athlete/warriors (Renaud, in the opera), that she wants to kill him to free herself from her desire. While the men sing about the need to detest love in order to achieve the glory of war, Armide laments Renaud's refusal of her gaze: 'My eyes did not please him enough,' she moans.

But the gaze is never the site of consummation of romantic love. In a stunning image which fuses the carnal with the ideal, Godard critiques this romantic tradition, thereby also critiquing much of his own work.