Friday, June 10, 2011

What is Flesh Alone?

Je Vous Salue, Marie/Hail Mary (1985) - Godard
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Godard's take on Virgin Mary might have been seen as an assault on Christianity and the idea of Immaculate Conception but it's actually about one of his usual themes- body/soul dichotomy. What's refreshing about Hail Mary is it's also about relationship between two young people being tested: can they love one another without touching? I can see the film's influence on many younger filmmakers whom I once religiously followed, namely Leos Carax and Hal Hartley with their brooding anti-heroic archetypes.


Hail Mary is perhaps the most beautiful color film I've ever seen. Punctuated by amazingly graceful nature photography and anchored by Myriem Roussel's Marie, a high school basketball player and a virgin who finds herself being pregnant. Marie's questioning "what is flesh alone...?" and her struggle to keep herself chaste is touching and deeply felt. It's the presence of Roussel that differentiates Hail Mary from Godard's post-Anna Karina cynicism.


From what I hear, Hail Mary is one of the last films before Godard turned his direction toward visual essays of the 90s which I find dry and uninteresting. Call me old fashioned, but for me ideas are still best conveyed through stories and characters, not in the lecture halls(movie theaters) that Godard still seems to preside over. Cinematically no one can top Godard's playfulness in the 60s, not even Godard himself. But this is a gorgeous stuff. Easily a top ten material for me.

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