A ridiculous documentary. A pair of twins got into the news because they preferred speaking in their own invented language to English. After TV and newspaper reporters are done with the story, Gorin (a Godard collaborator in the 1970’s, codirecting Tout va bien and Ici et ailleurs) shows up to make a movie about the twins, seeming the whole time to be out of his element. My favorite scene was at a library, with cameraman Les Blank (the same year as Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe) following the twins as they run around acting like themselves, while Gorin stands by impotently trying to get them to pose for him. Finally at the end does a linguist get some input, as the story and the movie peter out. Katy hated it so much.
Tag: Jean-Pierre Gorin
Onscreen text, much talk about the workers, pictures of Hitler and holocaust, calm voiceover and mentions of may 68. Yup, it’s a post-60’s Godard film, alright. Here he takes his textual analysis to new heights, obsessing over the word AND (or ET). It manages a level of interest similar to Tout va bien, significantly higher than Letter to Jane.
No onscreen credits (at least on my copy). The last Godard-Gorin collaboration, Mieville taking over for Gorin. Once again they speak within the film about its own creation and intent.
“In 1970 this film was called Victory. In 1974 it is called Here and Elsewhere.” Looks like Victory was a Palestinian propaganda movie. “Here” they stage scenes of a family watching television, and filmmakers displaying stills one by one before a camera. Lots of talk about the nature and meaning of images. It’s not as bad as it sounds.
Jean-Luc Godard’s short feature about the PLO was initially shot with Jean-Pierre Gorin in the Middle East in 1970, but when he edited the footage with Anne-Marie Mieville several years later, many of the soldiers that had been filmed were dead. Reflecting on this fact, as well as on the problems of recording history and of making political statements on film, Godard and Mieville produced a thoughtful and provocative essay on the subject. Coming after the mainly arid reaches of Godard’s “Dziga Vertov Group” period (roughly 1968-1973), when his efforts were largely directed toward severing his relation with commercial filmmaking and toward forging new ways to “make films politically,” this film assimilates many of the lessons he learned without the posturing and masochism that marred much of his earlier work. The results are a rare form of lucidity and purity.
Oh whoops – I planned to watch Weekend first, to go from the end of Godard’s beloved 60’s period, skip over his purely political post-May-’68 work with Gorin as the Dziga Vertov Group, and resume with Tout Va Bien and Letter to Jane. But I forgot, and watched this before Weekend. No matter, probably. But as I’d heard, the Godard of the 60’s never returned after ’68. This is so similar to his 60’s movies, despite the bright pop color, the custom-built sets, meta-movie voiceover, married-couple storyline and (especially) major stars. No, it’s as talky as The Owl’s Legacy.
Long-Distance Singer Yves Montand and newly-oscar-winning Jane Fonda were both known to be politically-engaged, and both were hugely popular at the time, so it was perfect casting for Godard and Gorin – plus an opportunity for them to gripe about Montand’s previous “problematic” political films. But G & G really want to polemicize at length, so they note in the voiceover that the stars were cast and given a jaded love story out of commercial necessity.
Unwitting pawns in Godard and Gorin’s political agenda:
Opens with JLG’s most cinematic-illusion-shattering move yet, close-ups on all the checks he’s cutting for the film’s stars, technicians, sets and so on. The juicy center of the film (shot in nice loooong shots, many of them motionless) consists mainly of dudes giving long speeches about union labor, class divisions, the political system.
“Under a calm surface, everything’s changing. Everything’s changing within every class. And She and He, swept up in it, also change.” Yves is a formerly-idealistic filmmaker (“a screenwriter during the New Wave”), now doing commercial work. Jane is a radio news reporter, and the two are at a factory office when the workers hold a major strike and lock the boss in his office for five days. So we get interviews with the boss (Vittorio Caprioli of Il Generale della Rovere): “the glaring injustices of Marx’ and Engels’ day are over,” and the shop steward: “our salaries haven’t kept up with increasing production, and even less with corporate profits.” It’s weird for a leftist, pro-workers movie that I can easily find who played the company manager, but not which actor played Stacquet the shop steward.
Some business in a supermarket that I didn’t understand because I wasn’t paying close attention anymore, but the long back-and-forth dolly shot reminded me of the factory scene in Manufactured Landscapes. Yves and Jane at their day jobs. Scenes of the factory in operation, of struggle in the streets. A token love-story-resolution ending in a cafe, which seems extraneous even as a joke, since the couple never got any development.
Great cross-section of the factory offices:
From an interview with a wide-eyed bathrobe-clad Godard: “It’s quite striking. When workers are interviewed [on TV], these people are given 15 brief seconds when they haven’t opened their mouths all year. We give them 15 seconds, or even three minutes, to speak. ‘What do you think of the strike? What do you think of your lot in life?’ Who can answer when he’s had his mouth sewn shut?”
Letter To Jane (1972)
An hour-long photo-essay posed as a letter to Jane Fonda, analyzing a newspaper photo of her in Vietnam talking (or, as Godard & Gorin rightly point out, listening) to some unidentified men. She’d visited the country after the filming of Tout Va Bien but before its release, starting the ridiculous “Hanoi Jane” controversy, during which the press took the actions of a movie star more seriously than the war itself.
Godard and Gorin take turns narrating (in English), and each takes pains to avoid any interest in their voice, so the movie becomes a didactic lullaby. I got bored almost immediately.