Gonzalo de Lucas

In a recent interview, Brian Eno reminisced his idea, in relation to the digital, that the problems or imperfections of a medium end up becoming its most characteristic form: ‘when you distort something digitally it sounds ‘wrong’ in traditional terms. But that glitch, those little tics, are the character of this new digital world; they are its sonic form, if you like. Distortion is always the signature of things. If you see a 1930s photograph and it has grain, what it shows doesn’t matter much; you know its origin because of its physical aspect. Each era shows its personality through what is wrong’. (GALINDO, 2012: 25).

In the 1960s, the awareness of the possibilities of distortion was expanded in relation to photosensitive film, 16mm in particular. In that time, more perhaps than in any other period, cinema expressed itself through distortions, through what was ‘wrong’, recording and amplifying the margins and defects of the medium itself, such as the grain of the film or the noise of direct sound, and hence working on its matter. In Hollywood, the old masters explored the shadows, and in New York luminosity, until they blinded the images.

It was a period brimming with formal inventions that would result in the germ of the stylistic findings of successive decades: the descent of the sacred to worldly life (in Buñuel, Oliveira, Pasolini and later Garrel), would only be an example. Inventions in all the cinemas and places: the old and the new, here and elsewhere, classical, modern, experimental, documentary, and without the need to separate them in such strict categories, as it would happen later on and until the present day.

During the years before May 68, in an arc that could be traced between 1963 and 67, if we take as a reference the two key editions of Knokke of that decade, cinema experienced a formal revolution in which aesthetics and politics were in sync. Just before entering academic departments, cinema declared itself anti-academic and anti-canonical, a thought to be continuously discussed and experienced. It is not surprising then, that those were untameable years, and that they also represent a distortion for any honest attempt at a lineal order.

After that would come all the conquests of academic regulation that would culminate in cinema festivals as we know them today. In 1976, precisely during his anti-cours for Canadian television, Langlois already warned: ‘There are two film-makers that today represent what I call cinema in freedom. (…) One day I listened to Picasso explain to someone, when talking about Van Gogh: “He is the man who taught us to paint badly”. Well, the man who taught us to make films badly is called Andy Warhol. (…) If you watch closely a film by Godard, or one by Warhol, you will see that they are both completely immersed in life. This is what I call cinema in freedom. A cinema that is not afraid of breaking something and to show it’. (LANGLOIS, 2006: 259).





LANGLOIS, Henri (2006), «Le cinéma en liberté. Warhol / Godard». In Jean-Luc Godard. Documents. Paris. Centre Pompidou.

GALINDO, Bruno (2012). «Brian Eno. Brian the Brian». In Rockdelux, nº311, November, p.25.