This chapter considers why Jean-Luc Godard's late 1980s films have often attracted a negative response, looking at their claustrophobic settings and offputting themes of failure and regret. A consistent complaint develops across these films whereby Godard seems to argue that art, or even civilisation itself, have been consigned to the past. It is this discourse that has led to the characterisation of the director as a grumpy hermit, an image Godard willingly plays up to in his own roles in Soigne ta droite and King Lear. The chapter argues that even if Godard's citational aesthetic is in some senses postmodern, his films maintain a critical stance with regard to the post-industrial cultural economy. It also shows how Godard continues to search for images of resistance to this economic organisation, and finds them in images of the body as well as elemental images of fire and water.
As moving pictures became a reality during 1895-6, Europe's crowned heads discovered the new medium and what it could do for their image. The earliest royal films made in Britain showed Victoria's extended family with a new informality, and were eagerly viewed by their subjects. However, it was the staging of Victoria's 1897 Diamond Jubilee as a vast procession through London, filmed by 18 companies whose products were distributed throughout Britain and the distant territories of the Empire, that showed how powerfully film could project the monarchy in a new way - immediate, accessible and impressive. Victoria's successors, her sons Edward and George, came to the throne having grasped the potential of film. Meanwhile, two of her relations Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas, were also the subjects of early filming Nicholas's coronation in 1896 was the first such event to be recorded on film, but a record of the disaster that followed, when thousands were killed in a crowd panic, was quickly suppressed. Nicholas would remain suspicious of film as a mass medium, while enjoying it as a private family record, until he gave permission for a film to celebrate the tercentenary of the Romanov dynasty in 1913 - the same year that a full-scale acted tribute to Victoria, Sixty Years a Queen, appeared.