Commissioned by the heads of the 2000 Cannes Film Festival to make an opening-night short commemorating cinema as it enters its second full century, Godard instead offers up a 17-minute ... See full summary »
Commissioned by the heads of the 2000 Cannes Film Festival to make an opening-night short commemorating cinema as it enters its second full century, Godard instead offers up a 17-minute barrage of re-edited footage of wars and Nazi atrocities, interspersed with clips of Maurice Chevalier in "Gigi" and Godard's own "À bout de souffle." Written by
Josh Martin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"The Origin of the 21st Century," Godard's most recent film is one of his most gorgeous, poetic, and passionate works. In less than 20 minutes, he takes us on journey back through the 20th century (intertitles: "1990," "1975," "1960," "1945," "1930," "1900") through a rich collage/montage of footage. With a haunting, minimalist, beautifully simple piano motif in the background, we are shown the various tragedies of the century: buses taking people off to Nazi death camps, scenes of rape and assault, the rise of totalitarian governments, and pornography. Interspersed between these are fleeting glimpses of happiness and beauty: a girl slowly letting out a grin that becomes a smile, a colorful country road, a Hollywood musical dance routine. Godard uses both video and film, color and black and white, and the real world as well as cinema in this astounding work. Throughout it, a man and a woman (and at one point Jean Seberg from Godard's BREATHLESS) narrate in cryptic messages about war and love and happiness and suffering and their connections. Check out footage from Kubrick's THE SHINING also in the film.
One final thing to say, this film is *very* hard to get a chance to see. It only showed at Cannes in 2000 (its premiere) then at the New York Film Festival's avant-garde program and then one other screening in Europe before I got to see it. I was lucky enough to see it at the George Eastman House Motion Picture Museum in Rochester, but because the distributor (Canal +) makes it so hard to obtain the 35mm print(might be copyright problems), we had to see it on projected video. In the end this wasn't much of a problem; it was a very good recording and much of Godard's film was actually edited and composed on video before being transferred to film, so it fit.
Anyways, goes with out saying now: jump at any opportunity you get to see this film.
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