Film socialisme (2010)

3 Sep

Jean-Luc Godard’s first film, A bout de souffle, ended with Michel Poiccard (Jean-Paul Belmondo) saying vaguely “life’s a bitch” which a policeman translates into “you’re a bitch”.  This game of telephone acts as a prologue for JLG’s filmography.  Film socialisme, the greatest film by the greatest director who ever lived isthe apotheosis and the epilogue of his entire career, taking the ideas he introduced in his debut scraping chunks out of all of the films along the way.  Well, it’s not so much a culmination as it is an elaboration on his ideas.  A lot has been made of the film’s eccentric method of subtitling.  It’s spoken in … however many languages not because Godard is an elitist and is making films for polylinguists only, but because it aims to reveal what language really is.  Speaking is, as Joe Rogan would say “making noises with my mouth and you’re reading my fucking mind.”  Godard practically screams this same point when a young woman looks longingly at a picture of a cat and enunciates her mannered meows.  Noises only have meaning because we have assigned them semantic value as a way to reach out, to communicate precisely with others, but they only carry their values to those in the know.

That’s where the “socialisme” comes in.  Werner Herzog once said that cinema is the art of the illiterates.  He’s correct even when we have to watch with subtitles.

According to John Borg only 7% of what we communicate is derived from words themselves.  Therefore, we should understand 93 % of his subjects’ points, not that they matter.

What does matter is the need for creatures to communicate.  Whether it be to a foreigner, a cat or an audience.  This is his masterpiece.  Worlds explode and reform inside swarms of fish.  A green ray of light slices through the river like a rapture.  Mechanized shovels scrape and push gold coins across a machine like waves crashing.  Key moments of cinematized revolution are edited next to the same locations shot in contemporary serenity.

It’s a film about contradictions: it’s about microcosms and macrocosms, about people and animals, about humans and crowds, about land and water, about art and truth, about the past and the future.  In a word, It’s about cinema.

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