Sunday, June 03, 2007

Paris In Pictures: New Wave Visions of the Modern City pt. 5

Godard plays with the idea of consumption and mass culture throughout Two or Three Things. He offers many symbols of culture – magazine covers, famous quotes, novels – but sets them up so that, as signifiers, they offer little meaning. In one scene, Juliette and fellow prostitute Miriam don duffel bags bearing TWA and PAN-AM logos and are forced to parade around naked. In another, two men sit in a café compiling sentences out of novels in the hope of composing the ultimate book. Both these scenes exhibit the appropriation of cultural images or objects, but recontextualize them so that all meaning is obscured.

Godard keeps a philosophical dialogue going throughout the film via a non-diegetic voiceover. Considering the narrator’s penchant for the first person, and his lengthy transcendental musings, it’s almost appropriate to assume that it is a surrogate for Godard himself. One scene is particularly telling of this idea: as the camera focuses in on a cup of coffee, the narrator laments his inability to understand objects, and his verbose speech peters out into a verifiable spew of words. It is as if Godard himself is lamenting the way language has been corrupted by culture, rendered ineffective. “To say that the limits of language, of my language, are those of the world, of my world, and that in speaking, I limit the world, I end it” he cries.

If Two or Three Things presents the idea that consumerism has limited man’s ability to communicate, than it also suggests that the modern environment limits man’s ability to connect. As previously stated, construction is depicted in the film as imposing, a dominating force. But already established edifices are given equally biting critiques. “A landscape is like a face”. Towards the end of the film, Godard pans around Juliette’s building complex as she says this phrase. We see that the area is completely enclosed by buildings, each one composed of tiny little boxes, presumably individual apartments. The space is called le grand ensemble, a new form of urban organization implying a certain sense of togetherness, and yet we can only perceive the area in fragments, as each individual who lives there must do as well.

To Be Continued...


brennanballas said...

i wonder where the glamour of the whole"looking at film into the light with a cigarette" picture comes from. the more i think about it though the more it reminds me of myspace.

e. banks said...

it comes from godard being a pretentious bitch