“Certainly there was a misunderstanding, and I have been hesitant to speak about The Matrix until now.” So said Jean Baudrillard about the Matrix trilogy in a 2003 interview. He was, of course, addressing the referencing of his work in the trilogy, and in particular, the specific citing of his text Simulacra and Simulation in the first of Matrix films. Once the hesitancy about speaking out subsided, he was none too kind to the filmmakers: “What is striking about Matrix Reloaded is that it doesn’t have the slightest glimmer of irony, nothing that might allow viewers to turn this huge special effect around.”
For some time now, Senses has wanted to publish an English language translation of Jean-Baptiste Thoret’s seminal article, “The Seventies Reloaded: (What does the cinema think about when it dreams of Baudrillard?)”, first published in French in 2005. So, it has been some wait, but finally we’ve got our wish thanks to a translation by Daniel Fairfax that does full justice to the original.
Thoret is both one of the most esteemed scholars on Baudrillard’s writings (a long-term Editor-in-Chief of Panic, a French journal closely associated with Baudrillardian thought), and a specialist of the American cinema of the post-classical Hollywood period (author of Le Cinéma américain des années 70, 2006). Both strands come together in sticking fashion in “The Seventies Reloaded”.
If Baudrillardian catch-word concepts like simulation, hyperreality, the virtual, et al are common currency in discussion of films nowadays, Thoret’s objective is not to test the accuracy of their “adaptation” from theory to screen, but as he says, “the encounter between Baudrillard and the cinema no longer has anything to do with a frontal face-to-face between two closed conceptions of the world. Rather, it has similarities to a conversation where the origin of the theoretical materials counts less than the new proposition issued from this exchange.” As such, misunderstandings, misconceptions and misreading also bear fruitful outcomes.
There is much else in this issue which, no doubt, readers will find of interest. As always, our thanks to all our contributors.
We also advise readers that the long and arduous task of the migration of Senses back issues into our new archiving format is now complete. Our thanks go to Cerise Howard for her time and effort in what was a Herculean task.
Hope you enjoy the issue.