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 Posted:   Oct 4, 2023 - 10:37 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Bored with his blandly comfortable bourgeois existence, “Ferdinand Griffon” (Jean-Paul Belmondo) leaves his wife and children and goes on the run with their new babysitter, a former lover of his named “Marianne Renoir” (Anna Karina), who insists upon calling him “Pierrot.” Murder, mayhem, and hijinks follow, in Jean-Luc Godard’s PIERROT LE FOU.

While filming BAND OF OUTSIDERS, Godard announced that he had plans to adapt Lionel White's recent crime novel Obsession, which he described as “the story of a guy who leaves his family to follow a girl much younger than he is. She is in cahoots with slightly shady people, and it leads to a series of adventures.” The casting of Jean-Paul Belmondo made financing for the film easier to obtain due to his star status. Godard later remarked to Cahiers du Cinéma that casting Belmondo and Anna Karina ultimately changed the tone of the film, as "instead of the Lolita or La chienne kind of couple" that he originally envisioned, he now "wanted to tell the story of the last romantic couple, the last descendants of La nouvelle Heloise, Werther, and Hermann and Dorothea."

Jean-Luc Godard applies face paint to Jean-Paul Belmondo on the set of PIERROT LE FOU

As with many of Godard's movies, no screenplay was written until the day before shooting, and many scenes were improvised by the actors, especially in the final acts of the movie. Nevertheless, despite continual claims that Godard shot the majority of his films without scripts or preparation, Anna Karina subsequently claimed that they were in fact very carefully planned out to the smallest of details, with an almost obsessive level of perfectionism. There is probably some truth in both claims. Godard himself acknowledged that dialogue was often written at the last minute, but he undoubtedly had the overall concept of the film well-established in his mind.

It is reported that Godard initially panicked one week before production was to begin on PIERROT LE FOU, realizing that many of his original ideas for the film were of little use to him: "Based on the book, we had already established all the locations, we had hired the people . . . and I was wondering what we were going to do with it all." Although the film preserved the book's basic plot outline of a middle-aged advertising man running away with and obsessing over his children's teenaged babysitter before ultimately killing her, Godard aimed to turn the film into "something completely different," as he told Belmondo. In the film, Ferdinand Griffon, is a failed intellectual with literary ambitions who tries to fulfill his artistic desire after falling in love with Marianne. One writer has noted that this change in the story's themes and effect mirrored Godard's failing marriage to Karina, who featured in many of his works. Karina and Godard divorced in early 1965, before production on the film had begun.

The shooting took place over two months, starting in the French Riviera and finishing in Paris (in reverse order from the edited movie). PIERROT LE FOU premiered at the Venice Film Festival on 29 August 1965, where some audience members initially responded by booing it. The film later opened in France on 5 November, and was unsuccessful at the box office, ranking only as the 15th highest-grossing film in France that year.

Despite its commercial failure (it grossed less than $150,000 in the U.S.), PIERROT LE FOU has received widespread critical acclaim. Upon its release in the U.S. in 1969, The Village Voice’s Andrew Sarris called it "the kind of last film a director can make only once in his career." In the 2022 critic’s poll in Sight & Sound, it was ranked as the 84th-greatest film ever made. Antoine Duhamel’s score for the film was first released on CD by Universal France in 2002.

 Posted:   Oct 5, 2023 - 12:19 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

MASCULINE FEMININE (“Masculin feminin”) follows “Paul” (Jean-Pierre Léaud), a young disaffected Marxist, and his tenuous relationship to a detached ingénue, “Madeleine” (Chantal Goya), a singer who is contentedly locked in a culture of magazines and pop songs. Paul is anti-bourgeois and resents America’s involvement in Vietnam. Through a series of 15 vignettes, or chapters, all with strange titles, their relationship grows. Through on-screen interviews, the pair and their peers answer questions about the Vietnam war, America, materialism, socialism, the sexual revolution, Bob Dylan, and more.

Catherine-Isabelle Duport, Jean-Pierre Léaud, and Jean-Luc Godard on the set of MASCULINE FEMININE

Godard was interested in working with singer Chantal Goya because she was neither a film nor stage actress when she was introduced to him by Daniel Filipacchi on 7 November 1965. Producer Anatole Dauman was looking to Godard to produce a film that he could pair with another picture he was releasing, and suggested that Godard adapt a film from two stories by Guy de Maupassant. When filming began, Godard discarded both Maupassant short stories, and Maupassant's publishers later agreed that the film was in no way an adaptation of the author's work.

While filming a scene in a cinema, the actors had to react to a blank screen, as if they were really watching a movie. Chantal Goya asked Godard what film they were meant to be watching, and he remarked GONE WITH THE WIND. As such, Goya played it as if she were watching an epic, romantic movie. Only after the fact did Goya learn that the film her character was watching was, in fact, a pseudo-pornographic art house movie.

At the 16th Berlin International Film Festival, MASCULINE FEMININE won the award for “Best Feature Film Suitable for Young People.” Jean-Pierre Léaud won the Silver Bear for Best Actor for his performance in the film. Due to the portrayal of youth and sex, the film was prohibited to persons under 18 in France—"the very audience it was meant for," griped Godard.

The 1966 film has since garnered widespread critical acclaim and it is often cited as one of Godard’s greatest works. Chantal Goya performs six songs on the film’s soundtrack, four of which were written by Jean Jacques Debout. The songs were released on an RCA EP record, which was re-issued on CD by Magic Records in 2006.

 Posted:   Oct 6, 2023 - 12:54 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Jean-Luc Godard’s MADE IN U.S.A. is set in the near future, as leftist writer “Paula Nelson” (Anna Karina) goes from Paris to the French town of Atlantic-Cité when she learns of the death of a former colleague and lover, Richard P. Is she there to investigate? On the surface, faces are beautiful, colors bright, clothes trendy. Beneath, little is clear: some talk to Paula as if she's Alice in Wonderland, corpses pile up, and ideological struggles insert themselves.

MADE IN U.S.A. was shot at the same time as TWO OR THREE THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER. Godard put the film together quickly as a way to try to help his friend and producer Georges de Beauregard through financial difficulties stemming from the censorship of Jacques Rivette's film THE NUN (1966), which de Beauregard also produced.

The 1966 film was the last feature-length project on which Godard and Anna Karina collaborated. The picture was a loose and unauthorized adaptation of the 1965 novel The Jugger by Richard Stark (an alias of Donald E. Westlake). In the crime comedy, most of the characters are named after real-life personages, among them actor Richard Widmark; directors Don Siegel, David Goodis, Kenji Mizoguchi, Edward Ludwig, and Robert Aldrich; and American political figures Robert McNamara and Richard Nixon.

In the U.S., the film played at the 1967 New York Film Festival, but because neither Godard nor the producer had gotten permission or paid for the rights to adapt The Jugger, Westlake brought legal action, and the film was kept from release in the United States for over four decades. A newly restored print of the film was finally distributed in America by Rialto Pictures in 2009, three months after Westlake's death. The film grossed just $95,000 in the U.S. The picture has no original score, using classical music and a song sung by Marianne Faithfull on its soundtrack.

 Posted:   Oct 6, 2023 - 9:45 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

TWO OR THREE THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER involves the “Jeansons,” a young bourgeoisie family consisting of lovely “Juliette” (Marina Vlady), her dimpled but distracted husband “Robert” (Roger Montsoret) and their two children: precocious “Christophe” (Christophe Boursellier) and squalling “Solange” (Maire Boursellier), a four-year-old who is often tossed about like a sack of potatoes.

The ‘Her’ in the title refers to several things—the city of Paris, strange women, perhaps even language and love. The idea for the film began with an article about prostitution in the new, planned Paris suburbs published in Le Nouvel Observateur. In the film, Juliette prostitutes herself to earn more money to enjoy life’s little luxuries, but while she might be the film’s protagonist, Godard has other ideas. His main goal is to attack consumerism, but in his ‘anything goes’ takedown, he also finds himself going off on tangents, using his narration to comment on just about anything from war (the Vietnam War was a major talking point at the time) to fashion.

Godard explained: “I want to include everything: sport, politics, even groceries. Everything can be put into a film. Everything should be put into a film. When people ask me why I talk or have my characters talk about Vietnam, about Jacques Anquetil [a French Tour de France cyclist], or about a woman who deceives her husband, I refer the questioner to his own newspaper. It’s all there. And it’s all mixed up.”

Once again describing his working methods, Godard said, “I don’t write my scripts. I improvise as shooting goes on. But this improvisation can only be the result of previous inner preparation, which presupposes concentration. And in fact, I make my films not only when I’m shooting, but as I dream, eat, read, talk to you. TWO OR THREE THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER is much more ambitious than MADE IN U.S.A. both on the documentary level, since it is about the replanning of the Parisian area, and on the level of pure research, since it is a film in which I am continually asking myself what I am doing…. I am constantly asking questions. I watch myself filming and you hear me thinking aloud. In other words, it isn’t a film, it’s an attempt at film and is presented as such. It really forms part of my personal research. It is not a story, but hopefully a document, to a degree where I think Paul Delouvrier himself should have commissioned the film.”
[From 1961 to 1969, Paul Delouvrier was the French Government's chief representative for the Paris region, where he established the basis for the Master Plan for the area's development. He mapped out new satellite towns, and is credited with creating an efficient suburban commuter network that feeds into the Paris subway system, the Metro.]

Godard began production on the film in the summer of 1966. Shortly afterward, he was approached by producer Georges de Beauregard, who asked him to quickly make a film to offset a financial shortfall incurred after Jacques Rivette's film THE NUN (1966) was banned by the French government. Happy to help his frequent collaborator, Godard began work on MADE IN U.S.A (1966), shooting TWO OR THREE THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER in the morning and MADE IN U.S.A in the afternoon each day for one month.

The film was released in France in March 1967. It played at the September 1968 New York Film Festival, but did not open commercially in the U.S. until April 1970. The film does not have an original score, with only some Beethoven music on the soundtrack.

 Posted:   Oct 6, 2023 - 10:08 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

THE OLDEST PROFESSION was yet another multi-part film from Europe, this one telling the story of prostitution through the ages. The film features six segments from three French, one German, and two Italian directors: Claude Autant-Lara, Jean-Luc Godard, Philippe de Broca, Michel Pfleghar, Mauro Bolognini, and Franco Indovina. Like many of these films, it also teamed up some of the sexiest European actresses of the era: Michele Mercier, Jeanne Moreau, Elsa Martinelli, France Anglade, Nadia Gray, Marilu Tolo, and Anna Karina, along with American newcomer Raquel Welch.

Godard’s segment, the final one in the film, was entitled “Anticipation, or Love in the Year 2000." The tale found a man from outer space (Jacques Charrier) visiting earth, where prostitution has been automated and divided into its physical and sentimental aspects. He is equally unmoved by “Miss Conversation” (Anna Karina), who recites romances, and “Miss Physical” (Marilù Tolo), a silent bedmate, until he realizes that the mouth is one part of the body that can play a part in both aspects. This film segment was the final time that Godard worked with Anna Karina.

The 1967 film got its U.S. release a year later, in mid-to-late 1968, its 116-minute running time reduced to 94-97 minutes (sources vary on precise U.S. release date and length). The editing chopped out most of the social commentary, leaving the humor, but no entire segment was deleted. The film grossed just $600,000 in the States. Michel Legrand’s score for Philippe de Broca’s segment was released on a Philips EP. Four minutes of Legrand’s music for Godard’s segment appeared on a 2007 Godard CD compilation from Universal France.

 Posted:   Oct 7, 2023 - 1:38 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Godard’s LA CHINOISE (“The Chinese”) is essentially a non-narrative film. Godard's then-wife Anne Wiazemsky stars as "Véronique," one of five Maoists who form the Rosa Luxemburg cell in a suburban apartment during the summer of 1967. Also in the group: the students "Guillaume Meister" (Jean-Pierre Léaud) and "Henri" (Michel Sémeniako), the peasant "Yvonne" (Juliette Berto), and the painter "Kirilov" (Lex de Bruïjn). Godard takes a satirical look at these revolutionaries as they develop personal programs of political action. Philosophy student Véronique plans to reform the university by destroying it

The focus is not on story or characterization, but on ideas. These ideas are presented in a series of dialogues and monologues in which the students quote from Communist and anarchist tracts, argue about points of theory, and plan for a Maoist revolution in France. The group struggle with ideology, the divide between theory and practice, and the other myriad conflicts of starry-eyed revolutionaries.

Godard’s probing is especially apparent in an impassioned discussion between “Veronique” and the real-life French dissident Francis Jeanson, who was once imprisoned for aiding the Algerian independence movement. Veronique advocates violent revolt and terrorism, especially as directed against universities, while Jeanson questions the wisdom or efficacy of such measures.

LA CHINOISE won the Special Jury Prize at the 1967 Venice Film Festival, and debuted in France in August 1967. It opened in New York in March 1968. The film is thought by some to have foreshadowed the student rebellions that took place in France in May 1968.

Michel Legrand’s score has not had a release, The song “Mao Mao,” sung and co-written by Claude Channes, was released on a Fontana 45rpm and was included on the 2007 Universal France Godard CD. Possibly because of its overt political content, LA CHINOISE is not one of Godard's more widely seen films, and until 2008 was unavailable on DVD in North America.

 Posted:   Oct 7, 2023 - 10:11 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

For the making of FAR FROM VIETNAM, expressing solidarity with the people of North Vietnam, six directors pooled their talents with some 150 members of the French film industry. The directors were Alain Resnais, William Klein, Joris Ivens, Agnes Varda, Claude Lelouch, and Jean-Luc Godard. Chris Marker supervised the writing and directing. Much of the film is comprised of documentary footage from a variety of sources.

In "Camera Eye," one of the film’s scripted segments, Godard appears onscreen pretending to operate a large movie camera. In a rambling speech, he acknowledges that he doesn't know how to contribute to the pro-North Vietnamese cause. He speaks of his regret that he could not get permission to enter North Vietnam and about his feelings about motion pictures and Hollywood’s dominating influence. He eventually states that the best thing he can do is to lend his name to this movie.

Jean-Luc Godard in FAR FROM VIETNAM

The film’s credits list only the participants’ names, with no roles assigned. The segments by Agnes Varda, Jacques Demy, and Ruy Guerra were excluded from the final cut. However, Varda's name still appeared in the opening credits. When the movie was re-released in 2012, she asked the distributors to remove it.

The 1967 film played the New York Film Festival in October 1967 and had its American commercial premiere in San Francisco on 28 February 1968. The film had music by Georges Aperghis, Philippe Capdenat, and Michel Fano.

 Posted:   Oct 8, 2023 - 10:51 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

WEEKEND loosely follows a bourgeois couple, “Corinne and Roland Durand” (Mireille Darc and Jean Yanne), already in the process of murdering the wife's father for a large inheritance, while each plan to double cross the other after his death for the money. Embarking on a weekend drive to the father's house, the couple are deterred time and again with traffic jams, gun-toting anarchists, and imaginary literary characters. The film, one of Godard’s last with a discernable narrative before he entered his “Maoist” period, attacks capitalism, U.S. influence in France, racism, patriarchy, class issues and the automobile in full force.

The film contains one of Godard’s most famous shots: a long tracking shot trough a traffic jam populated by a myriad of vehicles, personalities, and incidents. The shot was reported to be the longest tracking shot in cinema, up to that time.

Lead actress Mireille Darc recounted her first encounter with Godard before shooting: "The meeting takes place, Godard barely speaks to me, looking exasperated behind his big glasses- and yet, yes, he agrees, we're going to work together. On what? He won't tell me. Maybe he doesn't know yet. When I ask him why he is consenting to make this sacrifice, his answer chokes the laughter in my throat: 'Because I don't like you, I don't like the character you play in your films and who you are in life, and because the character in my film must be unpleasant. Oh, I almost forgot: your hair is too blonde; make it light chestnut. And come without makeup; just a little under the eyes, and even so..."

Laszlo Szabo, who plays an Arab in the film, described the cruelty with which Godard treated Darc: "I had a scene with her where I was eating a sandwich, she was hungry and asked me for a piece. My mouth was full, I kissed her, then slapped her. 'How come you kiss me, then slap me?' 'Like the Americans do with the Arabs.' That was my line. He had us rehearse the scene ten times. He was taking his revenge on her... It was very cold-it was in October- he went into a stream up to his waist, fully dressed, to show how it was supposed to be done: then Mireille Darc went in. He can be tough..."

The film opened in France in late December 1967. It played the New York Film Festival in September 1968, opening commercially in the U.S. soon thereafter. For the original U.S. theatrical release, distributor Grove Press dubbed the monologues (the garbagemen's piece on black revolution and the hippie's "ocean" poem) into English, although the rest of the film was in the original French with subtitles. A short credits sequence was also appended to the end of the film. Antoine Duhamel’s score was released by Universal France in 2002.

 Posted:   Oct 8, 2023 - 10:41 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In 1968, Jean-Luc Godard moved to London intending to make a film about abortion. When he discovered that, due to the 1967 Abortion Act, it was no longer a hot topic, he told his producers he would still make a film in London, but on the condition that he would work with either The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. The Beatles turned him down, but The Rolling Stones were happy to collaborate. As a result, in 1 + 1 (One Plus One), he was able to capture their work in progress as they rehearsed and recorded material for their seventh album, Beggars Banquet, and in particular the song “Sympathy for the Devil.”

Interspersed with sequences of the Stones developing their song are several scenes involving the Black Panthers, readings from Eldridge Cleaver and LeRoi Jones concerning revolution, a fascist porno bookstore owner (Iain Quarrier) reading from Mein Kampf, a television news crew interviewing “Eve Democracy” (Anne Wiazemsky), and other political vignettes.

Anne Wiazemsky and Jean-Luc Godard on location for 1+1

The film was shot at the Olympic Recording Studios in London and at Camber Sands in East Sussex, England. It was Godard’s first film in English. In his original version, running 104 minutes, Godard left the creation of the song unfinished.

Producer Iain Quarrier was unhappy with the finished film, however. He added the completed song to the end of the film, accompanied by some monochromatic stills of the film's last shot to fill out the song's time. He also retitled the now 110-minute film SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL to emphasize the part of The Rolling Stones in the film. At the London Film Festival on 30 November 1968, after imploring the audience to choose to see his version of the film, Godard punched Quarrier in the mouth after the audience voted for the producer’s version. Godard then called the audience fascists and stormed out of the National Film Theater to show his version under one of the spans of the Waterloo Bridge, in the rain to a gathering of the faithful.

SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL was acquired by New Line Cinema for American distribution. Although several sources say that the film had its U.S. debut on 22 April 1969, there is no evidence to support this. The film actually had its U.S. premiere as the final film on the closing day of the San Francisco Film Festival on 2 November 1969. New Line then showed the film at various college campuses in early 1970. When the film played commercially in New York in April 1970, the theater ran Godard’s 1+1 on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and ran SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL on the other days. The Stones released their song on a Decca 45 and it was included in the album Beggars Banquet.

 Posted:   Oct 9, 2023 - 10:56 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In LE GAI SAVOIR (Joyful Wisdom), at night in a darkened television studio, labor agitator “Patricia” (Juliette Berto), daughter of Patrice Lumumba, and university activist “Emile Rousseau” (Jean-Pierre Leaud), a descendant of Jean Jacques, participate in a 3-year program of study and self-criticism. The first year is devoted to the compilation of sounds and images, the second to critique, and the third to creation. Through this investigation, the Maoists document elitest abuse of sound and image, exposing the philosophical basis of contemporary communication.

The production of LE GAI SAVOIR marked a crucial transition in Godard's cinema. The experiments of the early and mid-1960s, and Godard's attempt to reform narrative film making, were over. Now, Godard was determined to destroy narrative film-making and force the cinema to a "zero-degree" style from which a new, politically radical, form of film-making could emerge. Further, Godard's critical concerns had gone beyond the limited world of the cinema, as he became increasingly preoccupied with language and its ideological content. The meaning of words, and the way these meanings shape our understanding of the world, is presented in LE GAI SAVOIR as the first major battleground for revolutionary change.

Filming started before the events of May 1968 and was finished shortly afterwards. Coproduced by the O.R.T.F., the French national television agency, the film was rejected by the agency. It debuted at the 1969 Berlin Film Festival, then was released in the cinemas in Germany and the UK. However, it was banned by the French government. The film was not shown widely in France until 2020.

In the U.S., the film played at the September 1969 New York Film Festival. Soon thereafter it was shown on college campuses and by film societies around the country, but did not receive a commercial release. The film has no original score.

 Posted:   Oct 10, 2023 - 10:16 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

The Dziga Vertov Group was formed around 1969 by politically active filmmakers including Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin. Their films were defined primarily by Brechtian forms, Marxist ideology, and a lack of personal authorship. The roots of the project began with Godard's increased collaboration with other politically-motivated filmmakers, such as the group project Cinetracts, the incomplete 1968 film One A.M. shot with D.A. Pennebaker, and the 1970 film British Sounds/See You at Mao made with Jean-Henri Roger. Eventually Godard and Gorin officially started creating films under the name Dziga Vertov Group, named after 1920s-'30s Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov (1896-1954).

They are generally credited with having made four films:

  • 1970 Pravda – an attack on revisionism and socialist imperialism

  • 1970 Le Vent d'est (Wind from the East) – a lengthy lecture on the history and political context of revolutionary cinema

  • 1971 Luttes en Italie (Struggles in Italy) - how and why a supposedly revolutionary Italian girl has in fact fallen prey to bourgeois ideology

  • 1971 Vladimir et Rosa (Vladimir and Rosa) - free interpretation of the Chicago Eight trial

     Posted:   Oct 10, 2023 - 12:16 PM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    Anne Wiazemsky and Godard had been separated for two years when she appeared in a small role as a "leftist woman" in his 1972 film TOUT VA BIEN ("Everything Is Fine"). Although it is generally not considered to be a Dziga Vertov Group film, Godard co-wrote and co-directed it with Jean-Pierre Gorin.

    In the film, Godard examines the structure of movies, relationships, and revolutions through the life of a couple, “Jacques and Suzanne” (Yves Montand and Jane Fonda), in Paris. Set four years after the chaotic events of May 1968 in France, the film revolves around a has-been filmmaker and his American reporter wife who go to a sausage factory that has been taken over by the workers. They’re locked inside the manager’s office with the manager. It is a film that explores this air of social and political chaos that is emerging in a factory with leftist workers trying to get better wages, and what they do to humiliate the factory manager to show what they have to endure from him. Most of the film’s shots contain all the three colors of the French flag: blue, white and red.

    The film premiered in France in April 1972. After playing at the New York Film Festival in October 1972, the film opened commercially in the U.S. in February 1973. Wiazemsky and Godard finally divorced in 1979.

    Godard and Gorin's final collaboration would be the documentary LETTER TO JANE, a 1972 postscript film to TOUT VA BIEN. Narrated in a back-and-forth style by both filmmakers, the film serves as a 52-minute cinematic essay that deconstructs a single news photograph of Jane Fonda in Vietnam. The film accompanied TOUT VA BIEN at the 1972 New York Film Festival.

     Posted:   Oct 10, 2023 - 9:35 PM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF (Sauve qui peut (la vie)) revolves around three characters: a filmmaker named “Paul Godard” (Jacques Dutronc); “Denise Rimbaud” (Nathalie Baye), a writer/editor trying to make a career change; and “Isabelle Rivière” (Isabelle Huppert), a prostitute trying to better herself. Godard and Denise are in the painful process of ending a relationship. He is also going through a tough time with his ex-wife and daughter. Denise sees Isabelle being abused in the street. Isabelle sleeps with Godard after going to a movie with him. She wants to get a new place to live – even phoning about a flat during a bizarre sex scene - and she wants to work for herself instead of the pimp. Not knowing Godard is the landlord, she visits their cottage up for rent as Godard throws himself across the table at Denise.

    After twelve years of low budget, militant left-wing, and otherwise experimental film and video projects outside of commercial distribution, EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF was Godard's return to "mainstream" filmmaking, with a sizable budget and French film stars. Godard promoted what he referred to as his "second first film," coming 20 years after BREATHLESS, heavily in the United States, notably appearing on two episodes of “The Dick Cavett Show.”

    Nevertheless, in addition to Godard's typical refusal to keep viewers oriented through expository dialogue and continuity editing, the film is experimental in its use of the technique that Godard called "decomposition," which he first employed for the 1979 French television series France/tour/détour/deux/enfants. In the technique, there is a periodic slowing down of the action to a frame-by-frame advancement. Consequently, the film was given the title “Slow Motion” when it was released in the UK. The French title “Sauve Qui Peut” literally means "save whoever can," and is a common phrase shouted among a crowd of people when there is danger—hence the American title of the film. Godard stated that a better title in American English would be "Save Your Ass."

    The film premiered at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival. In the U.S., it played at both the Telluride and New York Film Festivals. It opened commercially in the U.S. in October 1980 under the auspices of Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Studios. Godard was nominated for a French César Award as Best Director, losing to Francois Truffaut for THE LAST METRO. Gabriel Yared’s score was released on a Warner Bros. LP in France, and was re-issued on CD by Volcano in Japan in 1998.

     Posted:   Oct 11, 2023 - 12:07 PM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    PASSION involves a creatively frustrated and emotionally dead film director (Jerzy Radziwilowicz) who is bored with his latest project. His ennui brings work to a halt, pushing the film over budget and into peril. Rather than working, he is having simultaneous affairs with a rich wife (Hanna Schygulla) and a politically strident factory worker (Isabelle Huppert) who recently lost her job working for the cheating wife's husband. With these three individuals and their intertwining stories, Godard raises issues of art, commerce, and love, and how they are all hopelessly entangled, with the various levels of class and their respective concerns affecting each other in often negative ways. The title is ironic, as there is little passion in these characters' lives, and this is reflected in the director's movie: a contrived tableaux that lifelessly recreates classical painting and iconic religious stories.

    Outdoor shooting began at the end of November 1981 beside Lake Geneva at Nyon, followed by indoor shooting from January 1982 at Billancourt Studios in Paris. For both crew and cast, Godard was extremely demanding. Sophie Loucachevsky, who played the production secretary for the director in the film, recalled: “In the frost and the snow we waited outside in underclothes and nightdresses while Godard sat alone in a car and wept, clutching a teddy bear.”

    Godard had met the German actress Hanna Schygulla in Hollywood when she was shooting ONE FROM THE HEART with Francis Ford Coppola and asked her to participate, sending her a three-page synopsis in English titled Passion: Work and Love. For the role of the director, his alter ego, Godard chose the Polish actor Jerzy Radziwilowicz, well known from his work with Andrzej Wajda. To the French actress Isabelle Huppert he gave the role of an unglamorous factory worker who is still a virgin, and added to her difficulties by requiring her to stutter.

    Like most of Godard's work from this period, PASSION is shot in color with a 1.37 aspect ratio. The first choice for cinematographer, through a recommendation from Francis Ford Coppola and Zoetrope films, was Vittorio Storaro. Godard replaced him right before shooting began with Raoul Coutard, whom he hadn't worked with since 1967. For this film, Coutard won the Technical Grand Prize for cinematography at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival, where the film debuted.

    PASSION had no original score, using classical music on its soundtrack. The film played the New York Film Festival in October 1983, and had its commercial U.S. opening the next week, again with the sponsorship of Coppola and Zoetrope Studios.

     Posted:   Oct 12, 2023 - 10:08 AM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    FIRST NAME: CARMEN tells the story of a young woman, "Carmen" (Maruschka Detmers), who participates in many robberies with a group that resembles rebels or mercenaries. During an assault to rob a bank, she promptly falls in love with one of the guards, "Joseph" (Jacques Bonnaffé). To live their lives together, they must escape. They go hide outside of Paris at the seaside home of her institutionalized uncle, an ex-filmmaker (played by Godard himself).

    The star-crossed couple plan another robbery, this time using the uncle to provide cover in the form of a fake documentary that he is supposedly filming. Before this denouement, however, the strait-laced Joseph is frustrated by Carmen's inattention to him and her need to live her life according to her own whims.

    In the film, Godard further explores one of his frequent themes: the intersection between life and art. His filmmaker uncle character becomes so outlandish as the film progresses that it is hard to tell whether what we are seeing is reality or his insanity. Inter-cut with all of the other scenes are unadorned sequences of a string quartet practicing pieces by Beethoven, with the focus being on one violinist, "Claire" (Myriem Roussel), and her struggles to get the piece just right. Is she Carmen's counterpart in a different artistic sphere, music vs. robbery? You decide. As usual, Godard does not telegraph his meanings.

    Jean Luc-Godard in FIRST NAME: CARMEN

    The beautiful Dutch actress Maruschka Detmers made her film debut in this 1983 picture. Isabelle Adjani was originally cast in the title role, but she left the set after a few days of filming to be with her dying father. It was also reported that she found Godard's alienating approach to actors traumatic. It was producer Alain Sarde who brought Detmers, a 20-year-old Dutch girl, to the attention of Godard. She was just out of an acting class and without any film experience behind her. Godard accepted, persuaded both by the perfectly fitting physical type to give life to the sensual and melancholy Carmen, and by the ease with which she faced, during an audition, a nude scene in the presence of the male protagonist.

    The film won the Golden Lion Award at the 40th Venice International Film Festival. Raoul Coutard won the Technical Prize for cinematography at the Venice Festival. This was his final film with Godard. FIRST NAME: CARMEN opened in the U.S. in August 1984. The picture has no original score.

     Posted:   Oct 12, 2023 - 4:08 PM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    HAIL MARY is Jean-Luc Godard's retelling of the virgin birth, as set in modern times. Mary (Myriem Roussel) is a high school student, basketball player, and a virgin. She lives with her father, who owns a filling station. Joseph (Thierry Rode), her boyfriend, is a taxi driver. Joseph remains loyal to Mary even though she will not sleep with him, and another girl, “Juliette” (Juliette Binoche), entreats him to be with her. The angel Gabriel (Philippe Lacoste) appears to Mary (actually, arrives in Joseph's cab) and tells her she is going to have a baby. Her doctor confirms that she is a virgin. Joseph has trouble with her story, but she lets him do his own check, and, sure enough, she is a virgin. She gives birth to Jesus. In a parallel narrative, “Eva” (Anne Gautier), a college student, gets involved with her professor, who theorizes that life on earth arose from a guided extraterrestrial intelligence.

    Godard first offered the role of Joseph to Jean Marais, then 70, followed by Bernard-Henri Lévy, 35, who both turned it down. He then cast Jacques Dutronc, and started rehearsals with him, before letting him go as he found him too charismatic. It was then that Myriem Roussel introduced him to newcomer Thierry Rode, whom she knew from drama classes.

    Godard exceeded by three times his initial self-funded $200,000 budget, as he dragged filming on for six months, due to shooting only three days a week and refusing to film on some days. He agreed to direct the more mainstream DETECTIVE (1985) in order to earn money to complete HAIL MARY. Godard and Myriem Roussel had a tumultuous affair during filming.

    HAIL MARY was named Best Film of 1985 by the French publication Cahiers du Cinéma. The film was controversial around the world, although curiously, not particularly in France. Pope John Paul II publicly condemned the film, stating that it was likely to offend the deeply religious. His remarks have since been used to advertise the film. Under pressure from Catholic organizations, the film was banned in Brazil when it was imported in 1986. It was released in 1988, after the new Brazilian constitution dismantled the censorship system inherited from the military dictatorship.

    Columbia Pictures was initially set to release the film in the U.S. through Triumph Films, its joint venture with Gaumont. However, the ensuing controversy over the film's content, combined with disagreements with Gaumont, led them to drop the film. Columbia ended the joint venture shortly after, and New Yorker Films released HAIL MARY in America.

    When a Minneapolis theater attempted to show the film in late 1985, the theater was broken into and the print was destroyed. The film’s opening in Ann Arbor, Michigan was disrupted by a bomb threat. When the film finally opened there, sell-out crowds largely ignored a demonstration staged by about 30 people opposed to the screening. The film grossed less than $100,000 in the U.S. New Yorker Films distributed HAIL MARY accompanied by a 28-minute short film, THE BOOK OF MARY, directed by Anne-Marie Miéville, which acted as a prequel to Godard's film. HAIL MARY had no original score, using classical music on its soundtrack.

     Posted:   Oct 12, 2023 - 4:53 PM   
     By:   Indy1981   (Member)

    In 1968, Jean-Luc Godard moved to London intending to make a film about abortion. When he discovered that, due to the 1967 Abortion Act, it was no longer a hot topic, he told his producers he would still make a film in London, but on the condition that he would work with either The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. The Beatles turned him down, but The Rolling Stones were happy to collaborate. As a result, in 1 + 1 (One Plus One), he was able to capture their work in progress as they rehearsed and recorded material for their seventh album, Beggars Banquet, and in particular the song “Sympathy for the Devil.”

    Interspersed with sequences of the Stones developing their song are several scenes involving the Black Panthers, readings from Eldridge Cleaver and LeRoi Jones concerning revolution, a fascist porno bookstore owner (Iain Quarrier) reading from Mein Kampf, a television news crew interviewing “Eve Democracy” (Anne Wiazemsky), and other political vignettes.

    I am embarrassed to admit I have never heard of this fascinating-sounding time capsule!

     Posted:   Oct 12, 2023 - 11:19 PM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    Despite the straight-forward title, Godard’s DETECTIVE is anything but straight-forward. The film is set in a Paris hotel, where a zealous amateur investigator (Jean-Pierre Leaud) is trying to solve a two-year-old murder; an airline pilot (Claude Brasseur) and his promiscuous wife (Nathalie Haye) are negotiating with a boxer's manager (Johnny Hallyday) to get back the large sum of money he owes them; and a Mafia boss (Alain Cuny) is a menacing presence to everyone on the scene.

    Godard dedicated the film to genre icons John Cassavetes, Edgar G. Ulmer, and Clint Eastwood. Julie Delpy made her film debut in the picture. Actress Emmanuelle Seigner had some nude scenes in the film and recalled that, "The first day Godard asked me to take off my bra, the second the panties. So, I protested: 'Who did you take me for?' Finally, Godard said: 'Keep your panties'. I was 17; I had no desire to appear naked in a movie."

    DETECTIVE premiered at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival, and opened in the U.S. in August 1985. It was named the second-best film of 1985 by the French publication Cahiers du Cinéma, losing out to Godard’s own HAIL MARY. At the Ghent International Film Festival, DETECTIVE won the prize for “Best Use of Existing Music” for its largely classical music score.

     Posted:   Oct 13, 2023 - 12:48 PM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    Just as DETECTIVE wasn’t a simple crime story, Godard’s take on KING LEAR observed only nominal fealty to the text of Shakespeare’s tragedy. The film was originally announced with Orson Welles attached to direct and star. The picture was to be shot in France and coproduced by the TF-1 French television network. However, a 13 May 1985 Hollywood Reporter (HR) item announced a King Lear adaptation that French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard was planning to direct for Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus’s Cannon Films. Shortly after, Orson Welles’s project was canceled. Welles was later linked to Godard’s project in a 22 April 1987 HR brief, which named him as Godard’s first choice to play “King Lear.” That did not happen, however.

    Godard’s deal with Cannon was notoriously drafted on a cocktail napkin at the Majestic Hotel bar during the 1985 Cannes Film Festival. (Menahem Golan refused to sell the famous "contract napkin" for $10,000 when asked by the New York Museum of Modern Art.) At the time, Cannon, which was known for B-list films, was trying to expand its roster to include more prestigious directors, like Godard, Robert Altman, and Franco Zeffirelli. KING LEAR’s budget was listed as $1-$1.4 million in various sources. In lieu of a salary, Godard reportedly agreed to work for a cut of gross receipts in his native country of Switzerland.

    Initial plans entailed a spring 1986 shoot in the Virgin Islands, with an A-list American cast, and a debut at the 1986 Venice Film Festival. Norman Mailer was hired to adapt the screenplay and star as “King Lear,” with his daughter, Kate Mailer, playing “Cordelia,” and filmmaker Woody Allen reportedly cast as “The Fool.” Godard attempted to cast former President Richard M. Nixon as himself, for a fifteen-minute scene in which Nixon and Mailer would discuss “power and what it feels like to lose power.” When Nixon declined, Godard considered using Nixon’s former aide, John Ehrlichman, politician Geraldine Ferraro, and former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, in his place.

    The casting of Burgess Meredith as “Don Learo” and Molly Ringwald as Cordelia was announced in April 1987. Early candidates for Don Learo included Rod Steiger, Lee Marvin, and Richard Nixon. Godard stated that Woody Allen and Molly Ringwald’s contracts stipulated their names could not be used on the film or in any publicity materials. Godard argued that producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus were not “savvy” dealmakers by agreeing to those terms. (None of the cast’s names appeared on the film’s one-sheet poster.)

    Norman Mailer was reluctant to work with Godard, and agreed only on the condition that Cannon finance his film, TOUGH GUYS DON’T DANCE (1987). Godard allegedly flew to New York City for multiple script meetings with Mailer, which he then cancelled if he was not “in the mood to work.” Mailer was unsure whether Godard actually read his finished script, which was based in the world of the Mafia. By the time filming began, Mailer was unsurprised that Godard had thrown his script out. However, he was unprepared for Godard’s request that he play himself alongside his real-life daughter. Rumors circulated that Mailer’s primary concern was that Godard would depict his relationship with Kate as incestuous. As portrayed in the film, Mailer and his daughter quit the production after one day of filming. In turn, Godard decided to shoot the bulk of the film in ten days on his own property in Nyon, Switzerland, in March 1987.

    Woody Allen stated that his scenes were filmed at the Brill Building in New York City. Allen claimed he was never given a script, and described his one-day shoot as “one of the most foolish experiences” of his life: “[Godard] was very elusive about the subject of the film. First, he said it was going to be about a Lear jet that crashes on an island. Then he said he wanted to interview everyone who had done King Lear from Kurosawa to the Royal Shakespeare. Then he said I could say whatever I wanted to say.”

    Godard also paid $60,000 to shoot at the Actors Studio in New York City, but the studio cancelled the deal and, according to Godard, kept the money. Godard had also accepted a contract to make some short commercial films for Closed, a brand of jeans by Marithé and François Girbaud. These commercial videos were shot in March 1987 at the same time as KING LEAR, and the same actors/models in the commercials also appear in the film as the goblins. "What sets me apart from lots of people in the cinema," Godard said, "is that money is part of the screenplay, in the story of the film, and that the film is part of money, like mother-child, father-daughter."

    A work-in-progress, with ninety percent of the visuals complete but lacking a proper sound mix, was screened on 17 May 1987 at the Cannes Film Festival. After seeing the rough cut, Cannon threatened to sue Godard for straying so far from Shakespeare’s play, which Godard claimed he never read, in a statement that may or may not have been a joke. The lawsuit was avoided when Cannon shut down, a month later, due to financial troubles. Godard called Golan and Globus “bankers who believe they are true film producers,” and accused them of wasting money by paying Mailer $350,000, despite his abandonment of the project. To finish the film, Godard was reportedly forced to sell his “10 percent share on KING LEAR and his rights to France.”

    A letter from Cannon Films to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, dated 30 November 1988, requested that the Academy disregard its entry form for KING LEAR, filed on 28 July 1988, and to withdraw the film from any further Academy Award consideration.

    KING LEAR opened 22 January 1988 in New York City at the Quad Theater, but only played for five days. Cannon planned to see how it performed before expanding the release. One month later, the film opened in Los Angeles. Critical reception was divided. The Daily Variety review from the Montreal Film Festival, where KING LEAR was screened on 30 August 1987, described it as “lyrical” and credited Godard with restoring meaning “to the bankrupt term ‘art film.’” The Hollywood Reporter review called the film pretentious and “too inept to be even amusing,” and The New York Times deemed it “a late Godardian practical joke,” ultimately “as sad and embarrassing as the spectacle of a great, dignified man wearing a fishbowl over his head to get a laugh.”

    In a 2012 Sight & Sound poll, film critic Richard Brody named KING LEAR the greatest film of all time. Brody wrote an article titled “Godard’s King Lear at Twenty-Five” in the 17 December 2012 New Yorker, in which he labeled the picture a “film maudit,” a French term for “an accomplished work of art that met with critical incomprehension and rejection at the time of its release.”

    In 2002, Bodega Films bought French distribution rights from Hollywood Classics in the U.K., and released the film for the first time in France on a “handful” of screens. An estimated ten prints went into circulation. Bodega was later named in a copyright infringement suit, which accused Bodega and Godard of using an excerpt from Viviane Forrester’s La violence du calme (Paris, 1980) without permission. Godard and Bodega were ordered to pay Forrester and the book’s publisher $6,350 each in damages and interest.

    KING LEAR grossed just $61,000 in the U.S. The film has no original score.

     Posted:   Oct 14, 2023 - 12:17 PM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    ARIA was a 1987 compilation film consisting of ten short pieces directed by ten different directors, including Ken Russell, Jean-Luc Godard, Robert Altman, Bruce Beresford, and Nicolas Roeg. Each short used an aria as the soundtrack (Vivaldi, Bach, Wagner), and was an interpretation of that particular aria.

    Godard’s segment was based on excerpts of the 1686 opera Armide with music by Jean-Baptiste Lully and libretto by Philippe Quinault. In the segment, some nubile women (Marion Peterson and Valérie Allain) attempt to get attention from a dozen or so narcissistic "pump you up" gym rats.

    Jean Luc-Godard, with Marion Peterson, Valérie Allain and bodybuilder, filming ARIA

    RCA Red Seal released the soundtrack on LP and CD. The Armide excerpts were performed by Rachel Yakar, Zeger Vandersteene, and Danielle Borst with Ensemble Vocal et Instrumental de La Chappelle Royale and were conducted by Philippe Herreweghe. ARIA grossed $1 million in the U.S.

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