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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Spotlight on Godard

Every cinephile crosses paths with a Godard film sooner rather than later in their cinematic journey. The only difference is that some follow a more linear journey through Godard's films than others. This variant is not always down to choice as cinephiles who have lived through the 1960's had the unique ability to soak in fresh Godard reels as they arrived but those joining the cinephilia belt in the 1990's had to make do with whatever films they could find. For example, my Godard journey followed the unusual path of first seeing his 1965 film Alphaville followed by Ro.Go.Pa.G (1963) before finally hitting Breathless (1960) and then jumping all the way to In Praise of Love (2001) before working backwards through Contempt (1963), Band of Outsiders (1964) and Week End (1967).

There is so much written material about Godard's films that one can sometimes have the mistaken belief of being familiar with his films even though they have not seen the work. I was surprized to discover that I had only seen 7 of his films even though I could name atleast 20 of his films off the top of my head. Also, the few titles I had seen were very early in my film viewing days as I saw most of the films on VHS tapes. So it was time for me to treat myself to some Godard as a means of catch-up. Also, I hoped that seeing some of his older films might come in handy before I tackled his latest work Film socialisme.

Un Femme di Femme (1961)
My Life to Live (1962)
Le Petit Soldat (1963)
Pierrot Le Fou (1965)
La Chinoise (1967)
Detective (1985)

Of the six films, my favourite would be My Life to Live, a devastating yet beautiful work with a mesmerizing pool hall sequence.

La Chinoise, Le Petit Soldat and Pierrot Le Fou make an interesting political triple bill.

Even though Le Petit Soldat and Detective are separated by more than two decades, they share a common thread about a mistaken killing related to a character reading a hotel room number upside down. In Le Petit Soldat, it is a two digit number but in Detective it is a three digit room number as 666 & 999 are mistaken.

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