Godard examines the structure of movies, relationships and revolutions through the life of a couple in Paris.Godard examines the structure of movies, relationships and revolutions through the life of a couple in Paris.Godard examines the structure of movies, relationships and revolutions through the life of a couple in Paris.
Godard has his main character speak directly to the camera of the feeling of dejection and missed opportunities that followed Mai '68. The candid expressions and the direct address give a warm, honest feel to the character that encourages sympathy; we are expected to agree with what he says. Following Mai '68 a cross-section of society seemed to support widespread social change, workers felt that their voice would be heard and an enormous feeling of euphoric empowerment was experienced. Following those events, the C.G.T leadership as well as the communist party seemed to abandon the cause of the ouvriers taking up contradictory positions of passive acceptance. The issues that remained a problem went unresolved whilst the energy was gradually sapped out of those willing to protest until they became marginalised and unpopular. This is expressed by the loneliness of the strikers, the pettiness of the student rioters, and the way that when the rioters clash with the police they are inevitably outnumbered: society no longer has any time for them; they have become nothing more than a nuisance. This leads to the political leaning of the film. Aside from the fascist police, the right, exemplified by the factory owner are broadly ridiculed. Even the radio station where Jane Fonda works is clearly put in the wrong by the film. Sympathy is felt for the workers but they don't seem to have any particular ethos, certainly gauchistes aren't glorified in any sense. The only support politically seems to be given to the spontaneous and apparently anarchic students but there is no sense of moral resolution in their favour, on the contrary the ultimately inconsequential nature of their protest encourages the same cynicism that was reserved for the other political stances represented in the film. All this is contributes to the overall impression given off by the film, that of ennui. Many of the other comments posted have picked up on the boredom inspired by the film but I would differentiate between the two. Ennui being a French word, and one that has been explored by the greatest authors in French literature, it is not surprising that one of the greatest multimedia essayists in the world, who also happens to be French, should explore ennui in another medium. The difference between French ennui and English boredom is that ennui carries with it an enormous sense of frustration. The two C.G.T cronies are expressive of boredom as they wait for their spokesman to finish his lengthy speech; the censorship of Jane Fonda's character, the isolation of the factory strikers, the sleaziness of Yves Montand's rotting career, in fact the feeling of disinterest inspired by most of the scenes, these encompass ennui. If it can be assumed that Godard took the usual degree of care in making this film, then it must be the case that the drawn out shots in the factory and the supermarket that seemed to express ennui most clearly are deliberate. Whether this is sufficient defence for a film that flopped at the box-office is debateable. Nevertheless if Godard's intention was to portray a situation devoid of inspiration and where hope cannot extend beyond a fragile personal relationship, then his film has succeeded.
- Nov 14, 2004