Characteristically, Godard's contribution to the TV thriller series Série Noire retains only the most rudimentary trappings of the thriller (mysterious voice-overs, secretive assignations, random shootings). He focuses his attentions on the nuts-and-bolts process of TV production as a neurotic genius (Léaud) and his harassed producer (Mocky) swallow their auteur pride and get down to the business of casting for a James Hadley Chase flick. In one long sequence after another, director Léaud attempts to resurrect theories and images from the great days of the French cinema, torturing actors, chucking out references to everyone from Stanislavsky to Cocteau, until the appearance of Godard himself, a shuffling, nicotine-stained cynic whose pragmatism debunks the mystique of movie-making too much for all concerned. The movie ends with a dead producer, a starving director, and Godard shuffling off to retirement in Iceland, as a new generation of video darlings swamp their efforts in the high gloss pop-promo pouting and posturing. Any criticism that this is too much a movie about a movie about a movie is understandable, but Rise and Fall goes further into that territory than anyone (including Godard) has gone before.