Tout Va Bien (The Criterion Collection)
The Criterion Collection
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In 1972, newly radicalized Hollywood star Jane Fonda joined forces with cinematic innovator Jean-Luc Godard and collaborator Jean-Pierre Gorin in an unholy revolutionary artistic alliance. Tout va bien tells the story of a wildcat strike at a sausage factory, as witnessed by an American reporter (Fonda) and her has-been New Wave film director husband (Yves Montand), culminating in a free-ranging assault on consumer capitalism and ineffective leftists. The Criterion Collection is proud to present this masterpiece of radical cinema, a caustic critique of society, marriage, and revolution in post-1968 France.
- Letter to Jane(1972), Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin's postscript film to Tout va bien
- 1972 video interview excerpt with Jean-Luc Godard
- New video interview with Jean-Pierre Gorin
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Top customer reviews
Gorin has suggested that the fellow painting over the picture in blue was unscripted. I.e. it just happened. That sounds unlikely. After all, Godard and Gorin had to be familiar with Yves Klein's Epoca Blue exhibit at the Galleria Appolinaire in January 1957. There Klein displayed blue canvases. Klein's work influenced Manzoni, as well. The work of each has been read as a critique on industrialism and the commodification of art. So, simply put, it would appear that the fellow painting the picture over in blue in Tout Va Bien is a reinscription of the critique of Klein and Manzoni back into the halls of industrialism. I.e. it's nothing more than just saying that even the critique can be co-opted.
What else? A theme develops in the film that Gorin picked up again in his movie on a train club in Del Mar California--the anthropology of play and the anthropology of work. We see play entering in with the soccer ball being tossed in the hall, for example, in Tout Va Bien. Unfortunately, Gorin and Godard did not use any of the conceptual buttressing of Roger Caillois, a French intellectual who did very interesting work on play and sacred space, among other things.
One should think of Caillois now in this discussion for more than one reason. Caillois was one of the first French intellectuals to have a serious relationship with Latin America. Now that Gorin is going to Mexico and Brazil and spouting his Dziga Vertov history, which includes the questionable likening of Godard to Matisse and saying that film is an art that one is born with--i.e. that because one is born with sight, film is a sort of primal art--it would be good to return to the work of Caillois.
And to work of Marshall Sahlins in the early 70s for that matter. Why?
Cultural anthropology almost saw its death at the hands of biological determinism in the early 1970s. Marshall Sahlins saved the field with a brilliant and deceptively simple article on the properties of sight and color. Sahlins established that even a biological property as seemingly simple as eye sight is not determined by biology, but is something of a cultural artifact.
So let's do movie fans a favor. Let's not let Gorin muck up the theory by making biological determinist assertions about the property of eye sight. And let's remember Caillois, Klein, and Manzoni. As for the anthropology of play, we might even turn toward Homo Ludens by Huizinga. If memory serves, Esa Pekka Salonen gave that book a once over. But that is another story for another day.
The film can be seen and understood in many levels, but I'm afraid that today's workers conciousness is far away from that of the French factory ones after May 1968. Still, if you're going to take to your political movie the mega-stars of the period (Jane Fonda!) this is the way to do it. For Americans: Carrefour is the WalMart of France (and many other parts of the world). The same system, the same faults.
The Criterion edition included an excellent analysis (50 min) of a famous photograph of Jane in Vietnam, plus some excerpts of a Godard interview (explaining his position against naturalism in cinema) and a longer interview to Gorin (the co-director). It is an excellent edition as it is, but an introduction to the May 1968 events and/or to Nouvelle Vague would have been a good bonus for those that are not so into the subject, maybe as PDF-text so as not to take many space on the DVD (C'mon, with only 10 Megs you could include a lot).
While the movie was made during the final stages of Godard's Dziga Vertov period it actually contains a plot revolving around the relationship of a couple. He (Montand), once a New Wave movie director who now makes comercials for tv; and She (Fonda), an american correspondant in Paris. Both of them get kidnapped for 2 days inside a sausage factory during a strike and we see how their relationship changes due to them becoming aware of the historical context they exist in.
It's weird to see both movie stars being used not for acting skills but for what they represent: 'international vedettes'; as the opening scene makes perfectly clear. To make a film you need money (even if you are JLG) and to get your money back you need stars.
The Dziga Vertov group made one more film before calling it quits ('Letter to Jane') and since that 'essay' has a direct connection with 'Tout va Bien' Criterion wisely decided to include it inside this DVD.
While this may not be the place to start if you haven't seen much of Godard (Breathless, A Woman is a Woman, Contempt or Band of Outsiders would be more like it) if you've followed JLG's path up to Weekend, they you will certainly enjoy this one and all the extras this edition includes.