Jean-Luc Godard – British Sounds (1970)

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Jean-Luc Godard made the hour-long 1969 experimental documentary British Sounds also known as See You at Mao for London Weekend TV in 1969. In the opening scene, a ten minute long tracking shot along a Ford factory floor, a narrator reads from The Communist Manifesto. This is followed by a woman wandering around her house naked while a narrator reads a feminist-tinged text, a news commentator reading a pro-capitalist rant that is repeatedly and abruptly cut off to show workers that contradict his statements, and a group of young activists preparing protest banners while transposing communist propaganda to Beatles songs (“You say Nixon/I say Mao” to “Hello Goodbye”). It closes with a fist repeatedly punching through a British flag. It’s a bold and assaultive socialist screed made during the director’s most divisive political period and was banned from television. Of note are the director’s experiments juxtaposing image, text, and sound. ~ Michael Buening, All Movie Guide Continue reading

Jean-Luc Godard – Un Film Comme Les Autres AKA A Film Like Any Other [English version] (1968)

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What can be verified about the film are two 16mm reels of equal duration composed of two parts: A colour component (which makes up the bulk of the film), illustrating a group of five “students from Vincennes and workers from the Renault plant at Flins”.[10] The group sit in a field outside a large tenement block on the outskirts of Paris and discuss politics, the objectives of the May revolt, and the potential steps involved in achieving revolution in France. The second component of the film is comprised of silent black and white ‘documentary’ footage from the events of May intercut with the colour ‘live’ action in the field. Each of the black and white sections illustrates the May events that the participants discuss, and acts as a complement to their conversation. Continue reading

Jean-Luc Godard – Ici et ailleurs AKA Here and Elsewhere (1976)

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Here and Elsewhere
Capsule by Jonathan Rosenbaum
From the Chicago Reader

Jean-Luc Godard’s short feature about the PLO was initially shot with Jean-Pierre Gorin in the Middle East in 1970, but when he edited the footage with Anne-Marie Mieville several years later, many of the soldiers that had been filmed were dead. Reflecting on this fact, as well as on the problems of recording history and of making political statements on film, Godard and Mieville produced a thoughtful and provocative essay on the subject. Coming after the mainly arid reaches of Godard’s “Dziga Vertov Group” period (roughly 1968-1973), when his efforts were largely directed toward severing his relation with commercial filmmaking and toward forging new ways to “make films politically,” this film assimilates many of the lessons he learned without the posturing and masochism that marred much of his earlier work. The results are a rare form of lucidity and purity. All proportions guarded, it is a little bit like hearing John Coltrane’s “Blues for Bessie” after the preceding explorations of “Crescent” and “Wise One” on his Crescent album. Continue reading

Jean-Luc Godard & François Truffaut – Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut: In Defense of Henri Langlois (1968)

Henri Langlois, Georges Franju, and Jean Mitry, founded the Cinémathèque Française (a Paris-based film theater and museum) in 1936 which progressed from ten films in 1936 to more than 60,000 films by the early 70s. More than just an archivist, Langlois saved, restored and showed many films that were at risk of disintegration. Films are stored in celluloid, a material which requires a highly controlled environment and some degree of attention to survive over time.

During the Second World War, Langlois and his colleagues helped to save many films that were in risk of being destroyed due to the Nazi occupation of France. Continue reading

Jean-Luc Godard & Jean-Pierre Gorin – Le vent d’est AKA East Wind (1970)

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Two voices. One French, one American. A political tract concerning the issues of Communism in the workplace and ideals of freedom and equality, post-May, 1968, is recited back and forth over an obscured image of bodies slumbering in what appears to be a garden. The image is pastoral and idyllic in presentation, suggesting an almost abstract quality devoid of time and place. After a series of static images that simply observe these scenarios – largely with no real movement within the frame – we see a small group of actors preparing themselves for a film. As we continue, these actors, who speak Italian and are dressed in period costume, wander through this idyllic location as the narration goes on to discuss a cinema of revolution and the history of politics in cinema dating as far back as Sergei Eisenstein. Through this, the filmmakers are able to reflect on the notions of politics and history in both a cultural and cinematic sense; creating in the process a film that collapses elements of genuine historical fact, and superimposes them over the struggles and issues of the present day. Continue reading

Jean-Luc Godard – La Chinoise (1967)

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Synopsis:
Born in a decade of political turmoil, La Chinoise has become a cinematic marker for the significant historical events that surrounded its creation. Five Parisian students, their political awareness aroused by Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book and the Chinese Cultural Revolution, envision an overthrow of Western governmental systems – which they aim to bring about through acts of terrorism. One of Godard’s most brilliant films of the 60s, its success lies in the rejection of traditional narrative techniques: it is a dialectical charade which is as disturbing as it is comical. Though criticised in its day as a political manipulation, La Chinoise has proven alarmingly prophetic and its impact on audiences during the late 60s is echoed amongst viewers today. Continue reading

Jean-Luc Godard – Le Petit Soldat aka The Little Soldier [+Extras] (1960)

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Plot Synopsis from AMG

This controversial spy-romance tale by Jean-Luc Godard was banned from release in France for three years because it refers to the use of torture on both the French and Algerian sides during the Algerian struggle for independence. The story focuses on Bruno Forestier (Michel Subor), a young, disillusioned man who becomes involved in politics, yet in spite of the fact that he stands up to torture and commits murder because of this involvement, he does not have deep political beliefs. Also featured is his lover Veronica Dreyer (Anna Karina, then-wife of director Jean-Luc Godard appearing in her first film) as a motivating factor in Bruno’s behavior.

Eleanor Mannikka Continue reading