the vertigo of the disappearance of iconic figures of the 20th century


They "knew how to navigate" through the upheavals to become major figures of the last century but also smugglers to the 21st century.e. This end of the world before, of which they were the symbols, would even be, according to certain experts, at the origin of great anxieties within the European peoples.

“Elizabeth II wins the XXe century in his grave"commented the French newspaper Humanity about the oldest crowned head of Europe. The sovereign of the United Kingdom died last week at the age of 96.

From the former British colonies to Russia or China, where she was the first British monarch to have set foot, Elizabeth II has traveled through a world subject to the ups and downs of history. She lived through the Second World War, saw the dissolution of the British Empire and knew fifteen Prime Ministers during her seven decades of reign.

The symbolism is also strong after the death of Mikhail Gorbachev, who changed the face of the world by becoming the involuntary gravedigger of the USSR. The last leader of the Soviet Union died at the end of August at the age of 91 in Russia.

Franco-Swiss Jean-Luc Godardwho died last Tuesday at the age of 91, marked generations of moviegoers with his cult films like Breathless, his formal innovations that made him a figure of the New Wave, and his provocations. He has shot around fifty feature films since the early 1960s and is one of the most studied filmmakers in the world.

In recent years, the disappearances of Nelson Mandela or Fidel Castro had also triggered comments on "the end of the XXe century". Other figures of the XXe are still alive: Jimmy Carter, Ali Khamenei or the Dalai Lama, but also some members of the Rolling Stones or the Beatles...

Strokes

For Gilles Gressani, director of the journal The Great Continent», Elizabeth II, Gorbachev and Godard are “absolutely central and very difficult to repeat figures”. "Iconic, political, social figures who cross the upheavals of what could be the hot story, which was made in conflicts and in great transformations"he believes.

According to Thomas Gomart, director of the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), “The death of Elizabeth II is in a way an end point to the Second World War”. “The Queen participated directly in the 1945 victory and the British consider that the European Union in its beginnings is the alliance of the vanquished, that the United Kingdom, with a strong identity, is one of the winners of 1945 and that the monarch, until her death, embodied this”.

But for Thomas Gomart, the disappearance of these three personalities does not mean the end of the 20th century.e century, which he places instead on September 11, 2001, during the attacks of Al-Qaeda in the United States.

“Because in 2001, three things happened: China entered the WTO; September 11 is the attack on the United States, on American territory - without equivalent since Pearl Harbor - not by a State but in an asymmetrical way, by jihadism, and this has the main consequence of diverting the United States of the rise of China»he said.

Above all, he believes that the Queen, Gorbachev and Godard “are, in a different way, harbingers of the XXIe century", sharing a very specific relationship to the image.

Concerning Elizabeth II, “there is a modernity and a capacity to reinvent royalty in a country that is fundamentally experiencing decline” by its "political use of the image which, in my view, heralds the 21ste century"citing “his understanding of the role of television which is very precocious with his coronation” in 1953, the first major event to be broadcast internationally on television.

He points out that Gorbachev understood that “the clash of images between what the USSR produced and what the West produced had become untenable”. "It is an understanding that an imperial, statist, collectivist system was no longer adapted to the nature of international competition and to the aspirations of a population itself a recipient or recipient of images from the West (... ) because basically the USSR collapses when the Soviets stop believing in it, more than by outside blows». He also points out that Godard “thought the way the image became the predominant medium; he understands it very powerfully”.

an interregnum

For film historian Isabelle Marinone, Jean-Luc Godard, "It's a marker in time, and in the time of the history of cinema in particular". "He is someone who has thought about both the images and the story (...) he has always broken the rhythms, the periods, in his commitments, but also in the way of positioning himself in relation to his director's job"she adds.

“He is perhaps the only filmmaker to have really thought about the idea that cinema was opposed to television and that, basically, we had to look at cinema as a vector of memory, of remembrance, whereas television does not was there only to create oblivion”she continues.

"There is in Godard this effect of overlapping elements, especially in his last films (...) value judgments that will sometimes be in conflict with the effects of historical references"analyzes this specialist again. This very rich set, but very confused at times, shows this beginning of XXIe century: a confusion in registers and genres, where we have extremely serious events which occur at the same time as totally futile things which are the daily lot of our lives”.

Gilles Gressani emphasizes that“we are going to have to ask ourselves the question of what is the specific dimension of our years”. “What we are going through now is an interregnumhe believes. That is to say, this space between two eras, which is a moment of very great fractures..

“We know intimately that the world is changing because there is the pandemic crisis, the war in Ukraine, terrorism, economic crises, the climate crisis, it creates a feeling of vertigo and anxiety. ".

Changes "who have not yet produced a clear organization"he notes. "It's normal that today we don't have the equivalent of these 20th century icons, which became so because they were able to navigate through crises and transformations". Mays, he concludes hopefully, "we can act in these transformations, we must not withdraw into a period of passivity".



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