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Framework (2007) - What The Clerk Saw: Face To Face With The Wrong Man




Godard's honorific attention to those few precious close-ups-singled out in a film that dramatizes the objectification of identity within a range of modern institutions, a film that also makes salient the workings of cinema in a lineage of instrumental uses of the human face - serves to launch this discussion. In the humble realist context of The Wrong Man, Godard has in fact identified a repository of values inherited from western idealist and metaphysical traditions, from the incarnation of the sacred in the Christian icon and from the humanist portrait that condenses identity in the intersection of a social sphere and an absolute individuality. It is this enchanting potentiality of the face, its openness and intimacy, its address and its mystery, that we perceive in our earliest view of our mother's features from a distance of some 45 centimeters (the perimeter of infant vision, about the line from breast to face), or in our anxious, sensitized glance upon our children's faces when they are sick, or in some Rembrandt portraits that have the power to intensify perception, to refine and mature our glance, to acknowledge the limits of knowledge, the distance between image and language.