Jean-Luc Godard and Critical Legal Studies (Because We Need the Eggs)

The New Wave in filmmaking is now thirty years old. Critical Legal Studies (CLS) has been around in one form or another for approximately a third of that time. We believe that by examining the avant-garde movement in film we may be able to anticipate what is in store for the avant-garde movement in law. Our conclusion is that just as New Wave film methodology has had only a limited impact on the film industry generally, CLS is likely to have a limited – perhaps only stylistic – effect on jurisprudential development.

The reason for the shortfall is that Godard and the crits, in their respective ways, present a version of reality that we are unable – in a literal sense – to incorporate into our lives. Their message is, simply, that precious little in our existence is truly ordered or governed by identifiable principles. At a fundamental level, however, our psychological well-being may depend on our ability to avoid their version of reality by assuming (or imposing) an ordered reality. In the pages that follow, we more fully discuss ~he methods and aims of both Godard and the CLS movement. The similarities between Godard and his jurisprudential counterparts will be obvious but we devote a short section to highlighting the overlap. We elaborate on the need for order – even if contrived – and the failure of the modern film world to assimilate fully the contributions of Godard. We conclude by speculating about what that failure may tell us about the eventual impact of CLS.