Monday, March 26, 2007

Revisit: Tout Va Bien

A New Yorker Films release 1972

Written & Directed by
Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Pierre Gorin

Examines the structure of movies, relationships and revolutions through the life of a couple (Jane Fonda, Yves Montand) in Paris.

One of the biggest problems I have with Godard is that his politics are often misinterpreted as sincere, concrete beliefs. It's easy to romaticize the iconoclast ideals of May '68, and unfortunately Godard's films are too often regarded as soapboxes for the student revolution. While he may be aligned with the left simply through his intellectual status, Godard himself would be the first to admit that he knows nothing of politics. Politics of the cinema, however, is Godard's fortee, and he uses his distinct ability to manipulate image and sound to playfully comment on all sorts of political manifesto.

No film may make this more clear than Tout Va Bien, in which Godard examines the rapidly changing politics of post-68 France. The film comically depicts both the bourgeoisie and working class, using multilayered sound, response style monologues, slow pans and other traditional Godardian tactics to render all politics into senseless jargon. The film is swift despite its heavy thematic undertones, and effective in portraying languages inability to communicate the complicated needs and desires of political advocates both right and left. Remember that scene in The Life Aquatic where the Belafonte is dissected through a side shot of all the cabins? Wes Anderson got that from this film.

Ten years later, this is what the French were up to:

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