A Tribute to Jean-Luc Godard, the Film Philologist who Reinvented Cinema
Dancing and chirping, posing, frolicking, a bird –now on this branch, now on that – living in Godard’s city in black and white 1957, knows not the language and yet doubts Patrick. And rightly so for that philanderer never hesitates; quick-witted, he charms the ladies into believing him and his stories and “well, it is just a coffee date”, he says casually.
Only later do they find – Charlotte and Veronique – why All the Boys Are Called Patrick, because they were talking about the same Patrick, that is why, and look here he goes, in a taxi, with another beauty.
The birdie dares and continues living while in Godard’s city in three back-to-back years – ’64,’65,’66 – the voices – twice in black and white and once in colour – speak the language of simultaneity… and of confusion, surplus, discrimination… expressing it through every medium, especially the medium called love.
Just see, simultaneously in love, out of love, whimsically, the next moment knowingly, executing the plan and fate’s execution, the Band of Outsiders – Arthur, Odile, Franz – dancing the Madison dance, breaking the Louvre record, firing gunshots, breakaway… winning and losing simultaneously.
Dance ‘the Madison dance’ along with the trio –
The Louvre record –
And meet the fool, Pierrot the Fool, who runs away in the search of and is chased by meaning. Along with his ex-girlfriend, Marianne, he protects everything new that he has accepted and acts, confidently and in confusion simultaneously.
Poor Pierrot’s search ends, finally, it does; he finds, though quite late, that he was wrong about Marianne and right about the bomb. But as said before, he was so late that… dhamaka!!!
Next year, in Godard city, the questions ‘he’ asked ‘her’ and the questions ‘she’ asked ‘him’ were all documented; the answers were young, naïve and in late teens and early twenties. Fun and spirit jarred the running time.
A singer, her two girlfriends, a lover, his journalist friend, elections, peace in Vietnam and everything in fashion voted in the favour of 1966 and against each other.
Masculine Feminine: 15 Specific Events, out of which the bird makes a guest appearance in two events, inter-titled-
#1 A philosopher and filmmaker share a way of being… an outlook on life that embodies a generation.
#2 This film could be called The Children of Marx and Coco-Cola… Understand what you will.
Jump to the year 2014!
Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language (Adieu au Langage), a 3D essay film is a mind-boggling experiment.
Speaking about all that we encounter in life – through a car’s windshield, superimposed images, from a stray dog’s POV, in the colour red, rose red – the narrator speculates, maybe, regarding the dearth of something crucial at the centre and our unobservant impatient nature.
Maybe it shows also the fast culture that admires and nurtures weak concentration. Maybe we have missed the train… but then we can always walk if we remember how to that is.
The fun part is that ‘adieu’ in some parts of Switzerland where French is spoken, the parts where the film was shot, may mean both goodbye and hello.
The bird twitters adieu and means both.
Godard’s Paris, the year 1960; a criminal, Michel, is absconding and in love with Patricia. The boulevards, narrow lanes, tricky corners, buildings, stairs, doors, rooms, windows are together mocking – in black and white – the seriousness attached to delayed decisions, and also, questioning the pettiness shown towards whims.
Before becoming a news headline, Michel lives a simple life of a goon with a free future in vision and a blurry present; blurry but sweet and tender, like a half-dream seen in a half-sleepy state.
Patricia, an aspirer, a daydreamer, not a native, asks a lot of questions –
“Have you been to Monte Carlo?” “No, Marseilles.”
“What is a horoscope?” “Horoscope? The Future. I wanna know the future. Don’t you?” “Sure.”
“Why are you so sad?” “Because I am.” “That’s silly.”
“What would you choose between grief and nothing?” “Grief is stupid. I’d choose nothing. It’s no better, but grief is a compromise. You have to go for all or nothing. I know that now.”
“What is your greatest ambition in life?” “To become immortal… and then die.”
See, she asks such questions and gets such replies from Michel and others, like Parvulesco, the French writer/ philosopher she interviews in the film. Not always coherent and never definite, the answers make Patricia smile.
The car, the coffee, the cigarette, the smoke, the sprint, the bullet gradually push Michel and Patricia to either take a decision or act whimsically.
They do both – a decision is made, a whim wins over – but the timing and consequences differ. The only similarity is that they both make a news headline-worthy move!
A simplified trailer of a mosaic film –
A simple storyline that Godard twisted and moulded anew every day before shooting, Breathless’ distinctive visual style, editing, character portrayal and life-like quirky humour made it one of the leading films of the metamorphic French New Wave cinema.
The film’s originality and unique construction, after so many eras, continue to reform the cinema.
Experimenting, exploring, challenging fearlessly, Jean-Luc Godard postulated, presented and celebrated a new film philosophy; trying to build a bond with the viewer, his films demand attention, awareness especially if a political joke is being shared or if lovers are looking London talking Tokyo or if life is shown getting a speeding ticket or if an absurd gesture appears twice and the viewer tries to copy just for fun…
“Au revoir, à la prochaine”, said the bird in French i.e. ‘goodbye, until next time’, for the bird has subscribed to an OTT platform where some of Godard’s films are streaming.
Cinema lovers, what’s the time?
Time to imitate Michel’s gesture from ‘Breathless’ where he is shown imitating his favourite American actor, Humphrey Bogart…
- The Source
- In The Sundarbans
- The Knight’s Missing But The Horse’s Here
- Temple Food
- Walking and, Without Looking for it, Finding Narnia