Focusing on two films by Jean-Luc Godard that feature the work of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, this essay analyzes the rhetorical effects of Godard’s choice to subtitle, translate, or speak over Arabic speech and highlights Godard’s decades-long working relationship with the translator Elias Sanbar, who also translated Darwish’s work from Arabic into French. It argues that both filmmaker and poet in Notre musique (2004) are engaged in autoquotation in that Godard is alluding to his earlier films, particularly to Ici et ailleurs (1976), his extensive “rethinking” of his 1970 trip to film the Palestinian intifada, and in that Darwish restates his published commentary from the 1990s in a staged interview with an actress playing an Israeli journalist. It analyzes as well the political implications of Darwish’s poetry being recited in English translation by Native American actors in Sarajevo’s destroyed library.
Mahmoud Darwish in Film: Politics, Representation, and Translation in Jean-Luc Godard’s Ici Et Ailleurs and Notre Musique
Rebecca Dyer, associate professor of English at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, in Terre-Haute, Indiana, has published articles focusing on contemporary Palestinian, Lebanese, and anticolonial British writers and filmmakers. Recent publications include “Representations of the Migrant Domestic Worker in Hoda Barakat’s The Tiller of Waters and Danielle Arbid’s In the Battlefields” (College Literature, winter 2010) and “Poetry of Politics and Mourning: Mahmoud Darwish’s Genre-Transforming Tribute to Edward W. Said” (PMLA, October 2007). In her current book project, she examines representations of domestic servants in fiction and film set in post–World War II London.
François Mulot, a PhD candidate in French at Indiana University, Bloomington, researches undocumented workers in contemporary French literature and cinema. He teaches courses in French language and culture at Indiana State University.
Rebecca Dyer, François Mulot; Mahmoud Darwish in Film: Politics, Representation, and Translation in Jean-Luc Godard’s Ici Et Ailleurs and Notre Musique. Cultural Politics 1 March 2014; 10 (1): 70–91. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/17432197-2397245
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