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During the Algerian war for independence from France, a young Frenchman living in Geneva who belongs to a right-wing terrorist group and a young woman who belongs to a left-wing terrorist group meet and fall in love. Complications ensue when the man is suspected by the members of his terrorist group of being a double agent. Written by
I just saw this film for the first time on TCM. I was appalled to see that there is no video available, nor has Maltin written a summary. Now I regret not having taped it, and hope it will be shown again.
This film, Godard's second at feature-length, was made in 1960. It was subsequently banned by the French government and not commercially released until 1963, when the war in Algeria was over and Algeria had gained its independence. It is sometimes difficult to recall, 41 years after the fact, that the Algerian conflict was then tearing France apart and, had anyone but a WWII hearing like De Gaulle been in charge, probably would have led to civil war.
The lead character is a somewhat reluctant and half-hearted member of a right wing terrorist group, opposing Algerian independence, planning assassinations and tortures of members of left wing terrorist groups supporting Algerian independence. Godard demonstrates that there is really no difference between the two, that they are both morally bankrupt and ultimately nihilistic. Members of both groups are shown with remarkable objectivity--remarkable if you know Godard's own political leanings, which were far to the left, Maoist in fact.
Stylistically the film has a documentary, cinema verite feel. Godard used hand held cameras decades before they came into vogue. The characters seem real, so much so that, except for the beautiful Anna Karina, it is necessary to remind oneself that these are actors.
By the way, probably very few viewers, except those who may have been in France at that time, will know the significance of a scene where, several times in succession, several cars blow their horns "ta ta tum, tum tum." That was a very public code that existed in France at the time and stood for "Algerie Francaise," or. loosely, "Keep Algeria French." A very topical film.
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