adieu au langage: jean luc godard

goodbye to language

interview with jean luc godard

so even the god of cinema has succumbed to the 3d camp in his 2014 film “adieu au langage” or “goodbye to language”. or did he? this is godard’s 39th feature film and it does not fail to impress, all this  despite his age and a terrible car accident that damaged his scull that contains that god damn genius brain of his.

“the idea,” in godard’s own words, “is simple. a married woman and a single man meet. they love, they argue, fists fly. a dog strays between town and country. the seasons pass. a second film begins…”

i just saw the film finally and have not read about the piece but here are my observations: to me the film is really a 21st century contemporary painting, with a nod to picasso and the cubists, cezanne, and monet. godard uses 3D to recreate cubism for the modern viewer. he flattens the colors to analyze surface and depth and the frame itself. areas painters and artists explored only on canvas. the film is also a child’s curiosity with 3D. it is as if the camera was given to godard who did not know how to use it and he simply did what he could, but in that way, it’s honest and pure unlike anything else in the produced world of cinema and 3D. his experiments will be used for decades to come in the future of cinema… that is to be sure of.

to break with the cliches of new wave, this time he did not have the lovers part ways in the end, and the love story was not about the couples at all but his love story with a dog who has apparently replaced anna karina and his past affairs. the dog in the last frames of the film walks away into the woods, just like his female protagonists did, “but will she return” the voice over beckons? the very last frame is the dog coming towards the camera and the words “and she returns”. proof that godard has not yet lost his sense of dark humor.

one of my favorite sections in the film was how godard reworked his mastery of montage adapting it to the 3D format. godards double exposures are legendary, but in “adieu au langage”  he used a new technique. the end result was disorienting as my eyes had never experienced such a thing. i got lost and confused. i had to close one eye and then the other to understand what i was seeing. what godard did was instead of superimposing two images he simply shot each scene with one part of the 3D lens creating a scenario that one eye was seeing one scene and the other a completely different scene (both are of course 2d and flat, disregarding the silly effects of 3D). with both eyes open under the 3d glasses your brain attempted to decode the signals that your eyes were sending it, but it failed to resolve it. closing the scene godard has the man in the right lens enter the scene of the woman in the left lens and using a gradual dissolve he finalizes the phrase and proceeds in conventional 3D. it was simply genius and i sat there with a smile on my face in this empty theater with no more than 4 others at 12:30 midnight. i suppose in the end that is what i can only dream of, to do what godard does to me, to just a handful of people in this world with what ever work it is i’m doing. that is more fulfilling than all the riches of this world. a tough task to accomplish.

of course this all means nothing and you should see the film for your self. it is advisable to see it in theaters and in 3d, however leave it to godard to shoot a 3d film disregarding all the perceived effects of 3D and focus on how best he can capture a flat surface and deconstruct the whole 3D genre. the film is showing at the ICF in new york staring héloise godet, jessica erickson, kamel abdeli, richard chevallier, alexandre païta, and zoé bruneau. do catch it if you can. by dd