Télérama: What disturbs you about the prevailing cinema today?
Godard: In most films, the camera no longer exists. Directors no longer need the camera. It’s just a machine which enables them to say they’re making cinema. If they see a face or an event, and if they say, “That could make a film,” they immediately think screenplay. They film the screenplay, but along the way, they lose sight of cinema. They say what they see and, finally, they speak of themselves.
The models are obvious: “Don Juan in Hell”, Number Seventeen, L’Année Dernière à Marienbad. Davies has no use for them. Michael Frayn’s play, whose only characters are Niels and Margrethe Bohr (Stephen Rea, Francesca Annis) and Werner Heisenberg (Daniel Craig), is mighty entertaining, acted as well as possible under the circumstances. They do nothing but talk, while Frayn weaves atomic theory into the conversational structure, with a practical demonstration of the Heisenberg Principle. If anyone bothered to film this properly, it would be wonderful (Frayn left the adaptation to Davies, having “no clue” how to rework it for television, and when Davies wants to be artistic he switches on the “strobe” shutter).
This is a KCET-TV & BBC co-production; no reflection on the Peeb and the Beeb. General Motors doesn’t just sponsor Ken Burns, it probably built your car as well.