Preeminent French magazine Cahiers du cinema went online last week with “issue zero” of their e-Cahiers du cinema. It’s a test issue with only 20 or so pages translated into English, but the next issue, online March 9, will be translated from cover to cover. Started in 1951, the influence that Cahiers du cinema has had on film and film criticism can not be overstated. Given the iconic nature of the print magazine, there will no doubt be a fair share of detractors. The editors had this to say (as posted by Twitch):
“Dear friends,We invite you to discover the ‘issue zero’ of e-Cahiers du cinema. The ‘e’ stands for ‘electronic’ as well as for ‘English’…The March 2007 issue will be the first to be published simultaneously in French on paper and, in its entirety, in English at www.e-cahiersducinema.com. This issue will arrive on newstands on March 7 and on line March 9. The double evolution of Les Cahiers (the paper magazine plus the magazine on line, the French magazine plus the English edition) comes in response to the two great movements of our times, toward digital distribution and toward the globalization of the media… To publish in English, of course, is a way of reaching a larger of new readers, but we hope it will also be a way of making a different voice heard in the world–a way of proposing a fresh, rigorous and contemporary approach to the cinema and its place in present day culture.”
As a magazine-hound and a film fan and a non-French speaker I couldn’t be happier. But purists are already debating the mere possibility of correctly translating the content of Cahiers. (Check comments to Greencine post.) Personally, I think the online edition looks awesome, and if they want to translate “A woman in trouble” to “The story of a woman who has some problems,” so be it. What would Bazin think? When it came to films, he may have been a bit of a formalist, but as a journalist, I think he was a little more pragmatic.