Une Femme Mariee
“Godard is to his medium what Joyce, Stravinsky, Eliot, and Picasso were to theirs.” –The Village Voice
Legendary French New Wave auteur Jean-Luc Godard reverses the standard love triangle and challenges the influence of consumer culture in one of his most provocative dissections of modern life.
Charlotte (Macha Méril) aimlessly drifts between morning affairs with the artistic Robert (Bernard Noël) and mundane evenings with her paternalistic husband Pierre (Philippe Leroy). Unsure of whether she loves either man, Charlotte discovers she is pregnant and must come to terms with her emotional infidelities.
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Godard labeled UNE FEMME MARIÉE not a "film" but rather "a collection of fragments from a film shot in 1964". However, this is much less avant-garde disjointed than one might expect. Godard chooses a fragment-based means of storytelling for the moments between Charlotte and her lover, presenting a sequence of brief dialogues between the lovers in rapid succession. Each of these self-encapsulated moments serves as another brick in the wall of what we know about the relationship. Such compressed storytelling manages to distill otherwise ineffable interpersonal dramas and feelings. The framing in the scenes between Charlotte and her lover is remarkable: close-up shots of their faces or limbs against featureless backgrounds. Generally the face of the person speaking is not shown and we hear only the words.
But while there had already been myriad such tales of love triangles through the ages, this film offers something fresh by combining it with a critique of 1960s consumer society. The characters pepper their conversation with commercial jingles, parrot whole advertising texts, or recite factoids. In shots of home life, the latest fancy name-brand cleaning products and electronics are placed prominently in the frame. Charlotte and her maid read women's magazines and see whether they live up to the standards of beauty that the media prescribes. The Auschwitz trials were going on at the same time as shooting, and Godard chose to work references to this into the characters' conversations. In this way, he underscores how consumer society emphasizes thinking about the present, buying whatever is called must-have now, and thus discourages self-reflection and critically gazing on the past. The film's message remains perennially fresh, and I think many viewers will enjoy UNE FEMME MARIEE.
Godard would take up the "housewife and consumerism" theme again three years later in 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle, where this time the housewife prostitutes herself during the day to buy all the nice things that her husband can't. As a critique of consumerism, that later film is more successful inasmuch as it was shot in colour, and thus shows how commercial brands were using brash designs to draw the eye of shoppers. ("If you can't afford LSD," Godard says in a voiceover there, "buy a colour television.") However, UNE FEMME MARIEE is not just a rough sketch for the later film, and I'd even call it a better film, inasmuch as it tells a coherent story while the elements of the later one don't entirely come together for me.
Among the few early '60s Godard titles that have not been released in the U.S., fortunately EUREKA!'s Masters of Cinema (based in the UK) have heeded the call of cinema fans worldwide and have decided to release most of their Blu-ray's ala non-region (with the exception of a title or two that were released in the US by the Criterion Collection).
"Une femme mariée: Fragments D'un Film Tourne En 1964 en Noir et Blanc" is rather an interesting, entertaining and profound film by Jean-Luc Godard. Quite different than "Band of Outsiders" which preceded it and "Alphaville" which came after, this film is a film that can be seen as a sign of the times but still as relevant today.
Although I have not seen every Godard film made let alone any films he released after 1970 but I have seen a good number of his '60s films and I have to say that ""Une femme mariée" is his most erotic film. We see many shots of a naked back, a stomach, thighs as hands are seen caressing a woman's body. Visually poetic, Godard's film uses fade outs instead of his familar jump cuts. We see the negative utilized in Godard's video (which would be explored in "Alphaville") and more.
"Une femme mariée: Fragments D'un Film Tourne En 1964 en Noir et Blanc" revolves around a woman named Charlotte (played by Macha Méril, "Belle de Jour") who is a married but having an affair with theatre actor Robert (played by Bernard Noël, "La Ronde", "Trois Femmes"). She enjoys her time with Robert and loves him.
But she is married to Pierre (played by Philippe Leroy, "Le Trou", "La vita di Leonardo Da Vinci"), a pilot who provides her with what she needs financially, and she also raises her step son with him. Pierre is truly in love with his wife Charlotte, even though he discovered her affair three months earlier to Robert via a private investigator.
For Charlotte, she has balanced her days with Pierre and Robert and for her, she obsesses with what is shown in the women's magazines. Enhancing her breast size, wearing the best panties and bras, she is a very shallow woman.
But she starts to see life differently. When she meets her husband's philosopher friend Roger Leehardt, then seeing how young women discuss their attraction to men and losing their virginity, seeing how women do things to attract men and then trying to find out if she is a pregnant woman. She knows that both men would love to have a baby with her or they say that. But she is undecided on who she wants to be with and thus she interviews her husband and her lover.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Une femme mariée: Fragments D'un Film Tourne En 1964 en Noir et Blanc" is featured in 1080p AVC encode with the original aspect ratio of 1:37:1 and looks absolutely wonderful in HD. Picture quality for this film is absolutely beautiful. Detail from Méril's eyes and her hair, to the beauty of her skin, this is seen quite beautifully on Blu-ray. No trace of DNR and just an overall magnificent transfer on HD.
Audio is in Dolby Digital 1.0 (LPCM) and presented in French with English subtitles. Audio is clear and understandable, as with the music but for those with a modern home theater receiver, for a more immersive soundtrack, one may want to select stereo on all channels or stay with the monaural soundtrack.
"Une femme mariée: Fragments D'un Film Tourne En 1964 en Noir et Blanc" contains the following special features in 1080i:
* Original Theatrical Trailer - (3:25) The original theatrical trailer in 1080p created and edited by Jean-Luc Godard.
* 80-Page Booklet - A new "overture" by legendary French critic and filmmaker Luc Moullet (Les Contrebandières, A Girl Is a Gun, Les Sièges de l'Alcazar, Le Prestige de la mort). A lengthy roundtable discussion between Luc Moullet; writer/critic and American correspondent for Cahiers du cinéma, Bill Krohn; and MoC's Craig Keller -- on the film, and its relationship to Godard's oeuvre from the 1950s through the 2000s. A concentrated investigation into the film by Bill Krohn. A new statement about the film by star Macha Méril. A transcript of Godard's late-'70s lecture on Une femme mariée, originally presented in Introduction à une véritable histoire du cinéma, translated here into English for the first time. Relevant excerpts from Jean Racine's Bérénice, in the original French, accompanied by a new parallel English translation. And many notes on the film, Godard, and modern DVD production.
"Une femme mariée: Fragments D'un Film Tourne En 1964 en Noir et Blanc" is an interesting film. As mentioned, this is his most erotic film as we see hands caressing Macha Méril's body. Her back, her arms, her thighs, her waist... it's a very creative way of how it was filmed. Focusing on the body parts and showcasing sexuality without having to show its participants full bodies taking part in sex.
Of course, the film is seen differently by many people. For some, this is Godard's life with Anna Karina and his marriage going downhill. Is this why Godard exploring marriage and the obsession of what his hot in pop culture and women's fashion courtesy of advertising and how it corrupts women. While men are not as easily pulled into it but yet they are hooked on the women that do so. Shallowness has been explored in Godard's "2 or 3 Things I Know About Her" and also in "Masculin Feminin". In this case, Charlotte is being told about why they were in Auschwitz, but what happened during WWII is not important as it's passe to her, while a magazine article about breast enlargement is more intriguing. She is not an intellectual, she is a woman of faults and is not afraid to admit it. She is a product of mindless consumerism, a woman who lives for the now and wants to experience for the thrill of what happens "now".
But I enjoyed this film because it was so visually creative. The erotic shots were well-done. Improvisational use of questions being asked a question by Charlotte (which I'm guessing similar to "Masculin Feminin", questions are being told to Macha Méril by Godard) to actor Bernard Noel who is answering as himself but also in character as Robert about if his love for Charlotte is real or is he acting. Even certain mistakes as Charlotte is running and falls flat on the road is kept in the film. This is Godard using spontaneous moments and using it for his film.
As for the Blu-ray release, the fact that EUREKA! ala The Masters of Cinema are releasing the majority of their Blu-rays ala non-region is very important. For one, the main way for people to watch Godard releases were primarily from The Criterion Collection. But here we have The Masters of Cinema releasing a quality product on Blu-ray but also making sure that those who enjoyed those Criterion releases, get the same quality with MoC releases and it's not just for those living in Europe, now all of us all over the world can enjoy this Blu-ray release.
This release of "Une femme mariée: Fragments D'un Film Tourne En 1964 en Noir et Blanc" is simply the best looking version out there and I don't know if we'll get anything that will look this magnificent of the film for a long while. Although, the film does not have any featurettes, for cinemaphiles, the 80-page booklet is just full of content and information about the film. This is a film that many people have wanted released in the US and now it's available. Now hopefully, a company releases Godard's 1967 film "Week End" remastered on Blu-ray or DVD as many have waited years for a release of the film.
Overall, I know I keep saying that nearly every Godard film is a masterpiece. But I do feel that "Une femme mariée: Fragments D'un Film Tourne En 1964 en Noir et Blanc" is indeed a masterpiece and shows that an auteur such as Godard can craft something so quickly and yet making sure the film is witty, humorous and also tragic in some way.