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Operation Concrete (1958)

Opération 'Béton' (original title)
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2 July 1958 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Operacja 'Beton'  »

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1.37 : 1
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The first film directed by Jean-Luc Godard. See more »

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Referenced in Wanderlust (2006) See more »

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A metaphor for reconstruction?
11 April 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Operation Concrete" is the first film released by Jean-Luc Godard, one of the most legendary souls in cinema. The film was shot and released in 1955, when Godard worked as a construction worker, working with numerous others building a dam in Switzerland. This twenty-minute short focuses on the construction of this damn, showing conveyors going up, conveyors going down, concrete being poured on to platforms, concrete being filled into enormous barrels, and other methods that entail the construction of a dam.

The camera angles that Godard manages to get are incredible. Some are intimate and show the functions of the large conveyors and levers up close. Some, on the other hand, are much more inclusive, showing the functions of the machines from a great distance. Either way, Godard's camera-work is superb and gives a less-informed person only an idea at what he'd later accomplish with his films of the sixties, defining a period called the "French New Wave." Godard, working as a film critic, became greatly dissatisfied with the "untouchable" French classics and the fact that ritualistic narrative and technological practices were favored over variety, experimentation, and ambiguity. It was only five years from Operation Concrete's production that Godard would make and release Breathless, his official feature-length directorial debut. From then, anything was possible.

Operation Concrete is, more or less, a curiosity amongst cinephiles and Godard completionists who posses a desire to see all the man's works. It doesn't offer any polarizing themes or ideas, like his later pictures that dove into the philosophical elements and interworkings of communism and Marxism, but is beautiful and rather intriguing in its astute framing and overall simplicity. To think some of the most revolutionary films would follow from the same man who directed this, however, would've simply been unfathomable.

Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard.


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