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"Ideas divide us;dreams may bring us closer"
on December 25, 2011
His 60s classic output had a vibrancy,colour,storylines,graphics,playful punning with language,irreverence,jumpcut techniques,love of Hollywood.They swept you along with them in the New Wave of French film and auteur theory. Pierrot Le Fou,Breathless,Le Mepris.After 1968, Godard took off with socialist perspectives,becoming more obscure, didactic projects,less accessible.Film Socialisme is in the run of excellent later films starting with Slow Motion, In Praise of Love and now Film Socialisme.Often written off by critics who oppose the anti-narrative school,they write Godard off as being cranky, perverse,curmudgeonly,unable to communicate or not wishing to.The ideals that led to him making films are still strong,hence the intellectual currency of socialism. Film Socialisme is a film in three parts: "Des choses comme ça" ("Things like that"), "Quo Vadis Europa" and "Nos humanités" ("Our humanities"). This is a variation of his Dziga Vertov phase.Inspired in part by De Olievera's A Talking Picture.
In the first part of this symphony in 3 movements, on a Mediterranean cruise liner travelling to different ports, tourism as Empire,in a shrinking Europe of moral failure and cultural decline.He satirises the bourgeoisie,driven in flocks of asinine passivity,demented frenzy. The cruise ship's interior is sometimes captured with high-quality DV, sometimes with lower-grade stock, at other times in pixilated,splotchy,bright fashion probably filmed with cell phone cameras.Alain Badiou,philosopher, lectures about Husserl in an empty theatre,Patti Smith wanders with guitar, a Russian student and detective debate about lost Spanish gold of the Spanish Civil War, gorgeous images of the sea are juxtaposed with the banalities of shipboard life,the quotations of philosophers.Godard's obsessions are with dialectics,binary opposites,returning to the geometry of origins.
We then shift to a series of interactions among members of a family who operate a garage in the French countryside, the family of husband,wife and two children,do not become characters,because of interruptions,they remain statues that speak,with a llama and donkey. The children hold their parents to account with questions about liberte, egalite, fraternite. Thence to several brief scenes set in a variety of politically-charged locales, including Egypt, Palestine, Odessa, Naples,Barcelona and Greece: six sites where myth predominates, that present how European culture learned how to make both art and language by studying its ancestors.There is a brilliance of framing and editing,the vital interaction of image with sound.Fragmented,splintered,disjointed imagery and sound.The Odessa Steps figure due to Eisenstein,also Orson Welles's Don Quixote.
Film Socialisme prefigures Greece's debt,our debt to Greece,Europe's dependence upon America,the Arab Spring, Palestine,the losses of the ancient sources of our humanity,shoring the fragments of his film essay/images/texts against his ruin(he's 79).He utlises philosophical texts,poems,words of European writers,to invade and modify,with the accumulation of voices,dialogue,the received meanings of each viewer.The concept of video installation comes to mind,now painting and cinema are dead. The individual installment of a body of work.The past and future of Europe is the central subject; the perception of image with text is the experiment.This takes place in many languages, English proper,Navajo English,Greek,Russian,Arabic,French,Italian.His subtitling in Navajo English is a political act of rebellion against English as the dominant language.Clips from Italian neorealist films,Agnas Varda, war archives,Hollywood classics,as well as a series of animals: parrots, cats, a donkey,a llama,a bull,swirling sharks. All should find themselves incomplete, open,messy at the film's end,this memoir that merges film,history and the self,never a finished work.This pathway to the future,the importance of new Godard,liberation extends outwards from the film.Later Godard is in need of more attention than his early output.