Monday, May 25, 2020 17:53

The Godard Coincidence


I guess my relationship with the films of Jean-Luc Godard could be described as “It’s Complicated”.

I’ve gone out of my way to seen every film I have had access to…which might be close to 30. Yet, it’s hard to say I really like his films…it’s more that I find them extremely interesting.

His early to mid-60’s films were the best. Known as the father of the French New Wave, Godard’s films had an incredible style to them even though I didn’t necessarily understand the point of his artistic effort. He also featured incredible looking women (especially the smoking hot Anna Karina) and allusions to socialist politics which weren’t all that obtrusive at first but got much more so later to the detriment of his art IMO.

One could say that his film Sympathy for The Devil marked a major stylistic turn for him because while it featured absolutely priceless footage of the Rolling Stones in the studio recording their hit song, half the film featured a very strident political discourse that, to the modern viewer, would be not just boring and dated but almost incomprehensible. His films from the late 60’s through the mid-70’s were dominated by politics. Following that period, the subjects of his films were all over the map and while I found much of his output extremely challenging, it always fascinated me and I would go out of my way to watch his even most obscure films not because I thought I would enjoy them but because they made me think.

One weekend early last year, I was looking on Netflix for a movie to watch and Godard’s latest movie, Film Socialisme was available to me On Demand. I immediately picked that film to watch and I’m glad that I did because I found this film to be his most interesting in recent memory.

This film takes place on a Cruise Ship and Godard employs an interesting technique…the film’s subtitles don’t quite lineup with the spoken dialogue. This was pretty fascinating to me with much of the film being in French and my having taken French throughout high school. So, I had to use my incomplete aural comprehension of French combined with the incomplete visual translation and the visual aspects of the film to understand what was taking place on the screen. If I didn’t have a clue what was going on, the experience would have been totally frustrating and I’d likely have stopped watching the film. However, Godard had given me enough information to get me close enough to the action that I could bridge the gap between the information presented to me combined with my own perceptions to arrive and what I saw as the “film” (which might differ greatly from someone else who would bring different perceptions and experiences to their watching experience). Godard also used other languages besides French which I didn’t understand, but I never felt “linguistically lost” at any moment.

So finished watching the film and maybe an hour or two later, I learned on the news that a Cruise Ship had run aground in Italy.

The same cruise ship that I just spent over 90 minutes on via Godard’s film? Nah, couldn’t be. Could it.

It was. Mind-blowing. Same frigging day.

I pointed this out on social media but clearly such a coincidence was top of mind only for me since I just watched the film.


Someone much more perceptive than me wrote a very detailed essay about the film and the cruise ship disaster a few weeks later.

Appartently, Godard’s next film will be in 3D. I can’t begin to guess how he’d utilize 3D but I guarantee that it would hold my interest.

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