Film Socialisme (2010) - Godard
Intentional or not, Film Socialisme coming out just before the Arab Spring and the collapse of the Greek economy (the ship sails from Egypt to Greece along various ports) is a hearty validation of Godard's acute observations of Europe and its colonial past over his long career. Here Godard sees a giant cruise ship as a metaphor for Europe- decadent, crass, greedy people enjoying luxury largely serviced by non-European workers, sailing an uncharted territory surrounded by ominous, choppy water. But like always, everything is double edged sword in JLG world. Like the British leaving Palestine and Quo Vadis. But the film is much more than that. Incorporating 35mm, grainy videophone, HD stills and youtube videos, he envisions the filmmaking as a democratic medium, hence the title. Does it always work? No. But it's still darn interesting.
Typical Godard techniques are present. But he puts even more emphasis on visual storytelling by putting fractured Navaho English subtitle. One might see this as just another Godard snub against English speaking viewers, but when one watches a Godard film, most of the dialog goes over his head anyway. I thought this was brilliant and a vast improvement from the irritating presence of actual American Indians in Notre Musique. The next text after above screenshot is ...killing Blacks. When watching a JLG film, one can't take his loaded images and texts at face value, for that is not his actual opinions. They are archetypes in a movie, like Gary Cooper in High Noon.
Strangely, a token American featured is singer/poet Patti Smith. Why would she be on a cruise ship? He's just a big fan?
My classical music knowledge is very limited and I don't really know when people talk about symphony in three movements and Film Socialisme. Yes the film is in three parts (but not your typical, concise three act structure). After the first act at sea on a cruise ship, we are introduced to a family in a remote gas station. TV reporters armed with a small video camera hounds every movement of the family. This thinly disguised as Reality TV parody segment features some of the most visually stimulating and perhaps most hopeful scenes.
Always at the dead center of the frame, youth- always epitomized by beautiful teenage girls in his films, are curious, smart, funny and willing companions in discussions who are not 'corrupted by suffering and humiliated by liberty' while acknowledging the past.
The third part of the film starts with montages of war atrocities. There are still much I don't really get- his notion of Nazi gold and Soviets and Odessa Steps are lost on me. Film Socialisme starts out strongly but kind of fizzles at the end. But as always, watching JLG films is always an invigorating experience.