Serge Daney


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Semiotext (E)
19 December 2023
ISBN: 9781635901986
224 pages

From the publisher

Translated by Nicholas Elliott

Footlights (1983) was the first book by Serge Daney, a film critic admired in his lifetime by Gilles Deleuze and Jean-Luc Godard and recognized since his premature death in 1992 as the most important French writer on film after André Bazin. Containing texts from the same period as the first volume of The Cinema House and the WorldFootlights stands apart in Daney’s body of work as the only collection of his essays he conceived of as a book, organizing his seminal pieces from Cahiers du Cinéma by theme and linking them with original texts that reflect in a personal voice on the doubts, battles, and illuminations of a generation of film lovers inspired by the explorations of Lacanian theory and roused by the collective aspirations of Maoist dogma. In pieces on fellow travelers Godard and Straub-Huillet, on films ranging from Pasolini’s Salò to Spielberg’s Jaws, and on the difference between film language and television discourse, Daney offers the definitive portrait of an era of radical hope and disappointment.

“Serge Daney was the end of criticism as I had understood it and that I saw as starting with Diderot, from D to D, from Diderot to Daney.”
—Jean-Luc Godard

“Daney was the most significant writer to emerge from the generational milieu that gave rise to the French New Wave... Our own era is eager to beautify or sensationalize suffering, but Daney offers a different vision, best exemplified by his active gaze. He insists that we take the image seriously as not just a productive way of looking at art, but as a way of better understanding our own place in life.”
—Beatrice Loayza, Bookforum

“Daney’s prose, with its keen insights into individual films and the cinema as concept and practice, is original and transformative, a must-read for serious cinephiles and anyone else who believes in the ongoing tale of cinema.”
—A. S. Hamrah, author of The Earth Dies Streaming