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A Styleless Mélange Of Deconstructionist Theories, Among Godard's Most Abstruse Works.
This is the third effort for which Jean-Luc Godard worked in concert with his wife Anne-Marie Miéville, and it would be helpful if a viewer will be quite conversant with the writings of Jacques Derrida and other deconstructionists in hopes of being able to sort out the complex images and sounds set forth in this film, wherein Godard analyses methods to cinematically transmit ideas. The work's opening is at a radical French Communist news journal, in Paris, where a documentary film is being completed that depicts how such a media operation functions and remains successful in luring targeted readers. The paper's champion is its editor (Michel Marot), who is being challenged by his secretary Odette (Miéville) who asserts that his editorial methods have weakened because he is a lackey of debauched signifiers forced upon him by an intimidating mass media. Odette finds it appalling that technology having a capacity to stand against governmental repression has, from its beginnings, forsaken such an opportunity, instead being debased through smug explication. She here presents a picture of clear determinism shifting between cause and effect for examining a political discourse. In semi-documentary fashion, the production opens with Odette introducing the editor to creative essentials with which he is unfamiliar, as she simulates utilizing a typewriter to her supervisor's dictation of his linear description of the journal's functions. Here, a favourite expression of Godard and Miéville is presented: "what is unseen is what directs." A thoroughgoing explication is given to a group of photographs of a revolutionary political assembly in Portugal, and eventually the editor realises that he can no longer graze upon his former principles of film construction. A viewer of this mind-wearier will be witnessing the action by way of Godard's multi-veneered treatment of montage and will, as does the belaboured editor, begin to question one's observations, increasingly problematic when encountering Godard's soundtrack, a structured medley of electronic tones. Although a viewer not geared for cinematic intellectual exercises may find some passages to be slow going, camera mobility is, as ever with Godard, notably inspired and, while cinephiles may miss generational continuity, a palpable message is delivered that an audience responsible for wresting personalised meaning from the film's images will find manifest.
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