A symphony in three movements. Things such as a Mediterranean cruise, numerous conversations, in numerous languages, between the passengers, almost all of whom are on holiday... Our Europe....
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A symphony in three movements. Things such as a Mediterranean cruise, numerous conversations, in numerous languages, between the passengers, almost all of whom are on holiday... Our Europe. At night, a sister and her younger brother have summoned their parents to appear before the court of their childhood. The children demand serious explanations of the themes of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Our humanities. Visits to six sites of true or false myths: Egypt, Palestine, Odessa, Hellas, Naples and Barcelona. Written by
As a longtime Godard fan (especially his later works, like "Every Man For Himself" and "King Lear"), the wait for his latest film was excruciating; it had been 6 long years since the brilliant "Notre Musique" confounded and shocked me with its eye-popping imagery, jarring editing, and poetic dialogue. Something I've noticed about Godard is that he always strives for more and is always willing to take his ideas and methods and approach further and further. I was expecting a pure information overload with "Film Socialisme", and I was not let down. There is a lot going on in this picture, and it's going to take many, many watches for me to understand everything, to piece together all the information. No matter -- Godard's works have always been densely-layered and offer rewards for those willing to keep watching.
Such is the case here; Godard seems to be be in Histoire(s) du cinéma mode here, since this film -- for the most part -- resembles his work with that brilliant "film essay" series, as well as calling to mind films like Numero Deux and Comment Ca Va? Godard, for the first time, shot this entire film on digital, and the results are fascinating, sometimes even... funny. During one part, the crappy digital camera he had been shooting with appears to have been failing -- or at least, there was some failure when transferred to the computer for editing -- as parts skip ahead, and backwards; there are artifacts on the screen, audible and visual glitches, obscuring moments of a character's speech. This wasn't my DVD -- this was definitely part of the film. Other parts of the (early parts of) movie seem to have been filmed on really crappy webcams, then the footage was oversaturated... the results are quite jarring, especially when some of the "crap" footage is put next to some of the most beautiful digital filmography I've ever seen. There are audio messups, video glitches; recording synch sound on a boat in itself is absurd, as you mainly hear wind, people screaming in the distant, the engine of the ship; in sequences filming a party, you basically can't hear anything but fart sounds, a loud distorted booming and crashing. So, Godard seems to be using new technology against itself, in a way. He plays with jump cuts (which he popularized 50 years ago and has rarely used since), stop-motion (filming a camera being reassembled), dramatic pausing, silence, glitching, and slow motion. The first 40 minutes are all kinda like this; voices from who-knows-where delivering lines that were important to Godard, as image after image is shown in very quick bursts; some images were jaw-droppingly beautiful, some were distorted beyond comprehension -- all were striking. Godard is first and foremost an artist, and rest assured that the first 40 minutes are highly artistic. Not a dull moment in what can only be described as a postmodern documentary. Has Godard been watching the Current Channel? Has he been surfing Youtube? There definitely seems to be a lot of influence from outside sources in this part of the film, maybe even some of video art manipulating master Ryan Trecartin...
Then, the next part of the film -- a good 30-40 minutes -- is extremely "Godardian". It should be very familiar to people who have seen any of Godard's recent films. There's not a lot of image or sound manipulation here; just lots of long, quiet takes of characters discussing life... usually filmed in front of strikingly beautiful backdrops. This section calls to mind every film he's made in the last 30 years, Some people call this "alienating", but his style is so brilliantly personal, I can't help but be fascinated. The direction in this section is topnotch, of course...
...and it leads to the final 30 minutes, which is mostly a film essay, with dialogue over top of mostly stock footage (scenes from other films).
So, it's an overwhelming experience, but I never felt it was 'tiring'; I could've watched another hour or two of this stuff, definitely. Therein lies its brilliance. While, indeed, its difficult to sum up in a few words, its not difficult to understand why its so compelling; this is one giant ball of images, sounds, quotes, hitting us so fast that we can barely keep up. I'm not qualified to put forth everything this film meant to me, after just one watch, but I do know I will be watching this film 100 more times in the future, because it's just so captivating.
Forgot to mention... LOLcats are on this, as well as a lama who lives in a garage.
A truly brilliant experience that a lot of people will find "difficult" or "challenging", but to be completely honest, this is one of Godard's most easy-to-get-into films in a long time; by adopting the elliptical "youtube editing" and by going into "Sensory overload" mode (at least, for a lot of its length), Godard has actually managed to make a film that even an A.D.D.-addled teenage could probably enjoy... all the while, commenting on aspects such AS sensory overload, technology, language, and how impersonal and cold everyone in 2010 is. Characters speak but don't "converse". Talk, talk, talk... but no one listens. No one responds. In many ways, this is a style Godard has always utilized, but this is his best display of it; this might be the ultimate Godard film.
PS: I originally had a LOT more written on each section, but I had to keep removing chunks of it to get it to the 1000 word limit. I suspect anybody who tries to review this film will probably face the same challenge; there is just simply too much to say about this film. Truly the best film of the past 10 years.
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