Mid-1968, the British Film Institute invited acclaimed filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard to open a series of lectures at the National Film Theatre in London. A fee was agreed, the invite accepted, and flights booked. In the days prior to the event, the BFI received two telegrams from Godard. The first can be seen below. The second cable arrived the morning before his planned arrival, and read:
WILL NOT COME TOMORROW MOVIES HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH CIGARETTES AND REALITY WITH SMOKE YOUR UNKNOWN GODARD
100 members of the audience accepted a refund; the rest settled for a screening of Vivre sa vie.
Transcript follows. Image courtesy of the BFI.
TS 15/113 LN H0073 XF7964
NEUILLYSURSEINEPPAL 4651 60 19 1210
NATIONAL FILM THEATER SOUTH BANK WATERLOO LONDON
IF AM NOT THERE TAKE ANYONE IN THE STREET THE POOREST IF POSSIBLE GIVE HIM MY 100 POUNDS AND TALK WITH HIM OF IMAGES AND SOUDN AND YOU WILL LEARN FROM HIM MUCH MORE THAN FROM ME BECAUSE IT IS THE POOR PEOPLE WHO ARE REALLY INVENTING THE LANGUAGE STOP YOUR ANONYMOUS GODARD