Friday, April 30, 2010

FILM SOCIALISME: Explication par la bande (annonce)

"Like the dour-faced farmer in Grant Wood's American Gothic, Dylan seems to have the American Songbook in one hand and a raised pitchfork in the other, aimed at rock critics, politicians, Wall Street financiers, back-alley thieves, the World Wide Web — anything that cheapens the spirit of the individual. His nostalgia is more for the Chess Records Fifties than the psychedelic Sixties. He believes that Europe should lose the euro and go back to its old currencies ("I miss the pictures on the old money," he says). If Dylan had his way, there'd be Sousa bands on Main Street and vinyl albums instead of CDs. Teenagers would go on nature hikes instead of watching YouTube. "It's peculiar and unnerving in a way to see so many young people walking around with cellphones and iPods in their ears and so wrapped up in media and video games," he says. "It robs them of their self-identity. It's a shame to see them so tuned out to real life. Of course they are free to do that, as if that's got anything to do with freedom. The cost of liberty is high, and young people should understand that before they start spending their life with all those gadgets."

— from "Bob Dylan's America" by Douglas Brinkley, Rolling Stone no. 1078, May 14, 2009

Arthur Mas and Martial Pisani have written a brilliant piece about JLG's trailers for Film Socialisme, called "Explication par la bande (annonce)", which in English would have to be rendered as something like "Explanation by the Image-Track" + "Explication Through the Trailer". Both the original French version and my English translation are at Independenciahere.


PROGRAMMING NOTE: The full film, Film Socialisme, will be available for web-streaming-on-demand here at Wild Bunch's web-VOD outlet, Filmo TV, on May 18th, simultaneous with the film's premiere at Cannes. Watch this space for further updates.


Scavenging around the other day I discovered a website called Candlelight Stories. The site describes itself in the "About Us" section:

"Candlelight Stories began in 1995 as an educational entertainment site for kids of all ages. Begun as a small web site with one illustrated story by the site’s founder for his daughter, Candlelight Stories was quickly recognized by USA Today as a prime destination for families. [...] Candlelight Stories now offers literary, film, game, news, opinion, and audio content primary for an adult audience. Though our site is no longer designed specifically for kids, we make the children’s content that we do offer as friendly as possible...."

It was therefore only inevitable that Candlelight Stories should offer its readership some remarks about the trailer for Godard's Film Socialisme. The corresponding piece can be found here, but I'd like to quote the post in its entirety because I find it very moving:

"Film director Jean-Luc Godard has made one of the sharpest comments on copyright, piracy and film advertising that I have ever seen by releasing a trailer for his upcoming new film, Socialisme, that is actually the entire film in super-fast forward for 1 minute and 7 seconds. This is wit and intelligence like no other filmmaker in the world can muster. Once you see the opening presented to you by the films of Godard it becomes very difficult indeed to get up the energy to go watch highly paid American film stars mug and smile their way through belabored mega-scripts that seek opportunities to display Coke bottles and laundry detergent alongside Aston Martins and designer shoes. You begin to see that the Hollywood product is in reality just a very large catering operation and that movies are made with approximately 10 to 20 times the resources actually required to make any given film. American films, even the ‘independent’ ones, are shot from exactly the same point of view and think that movies are about telling stories. They are conceptually still living in the 19th century. They all adhere to the ‘beginning, middle and end’ framework and they uniformly lead to a ‘climax’ and a ‘resolution.’

"Godard, on the other hand, functions in the present, treats film as an actual art form, and always uses a unique point of view that cannot be pinned down or turned into a style. He is death to James Cameron. He murders people like Woody Allen. He makes Scorsese look like the heavy-handed New York buffoon that he is. Godard makes films by persuading people to give him money on the basis of totally fake scripts, then shows up with a note pad and a bunch of confused actors and decides literally on the spot what he might want to be making that day and hopes for the best when it comes to fitting his material inside the structure of a project he might happen to be working on. In short, he works just like an artist is supposed to work. He works from himself. The fact that we have been misled by a century of industrial product aimed at showing us Paul Newman’s teeth is not of any concern to him.

"If James Cameron showed up at my door with a contract to be in his next film, I would shove him backwards off my front porch. But I would fly to Europe to stand in the background of a Godard film for free."



  1. Amazing quote Craig! Very moving, as you said. Wonder if they saw that De Palma's FEMME FATALE did the same thing in 2002 though...

  2. Craig,

    I'm proud to see my words here. You have found yourself a new reader. I'm sure that I will find many ways to link back to your writing from Candlelight Stories. I'm having a very nice evening with a large cup of coffee while reading through your posts!

    Have a good weekend.


  3. Merci Alessandro et Danny.

    To the latter: the trailer for Femme Fatale did not at all 'do the same thing.' It took intermittent chunks of the film and sped them up in fast-forward, interspersed them with the typical regular-mo fit-for-a-trailer sequences, and threw in a few culled + edited soundtrack snippets for good measure alongside a dash of voice-over before finishing off the with a tidy presentation of the titles. It was all about style, it had zero content, and it effervesced all the net effect, intelligence, and philosophy of a lingerie advertisement, and worse.


  4. Eager as I am to watch at normal speed "Film Socialisme", when I tried to make my reservation at 7€ for May 17-18, either I am hopelessly unable to manage Wild Bunch's VOD site (where contact and other areas do not seem to work) or it is very disappointingly RESTRICTED to people residing in France, not even the European Union.
    Miguel Marías

  5. I too would fly to Europe in a heartbeat to be an extra in a Godard film pro bono; if he wanted to cast me as Kate Mailer, on the other hand...

    Love that poster though--especially the endlessly modest front-and-center placement of "JLG."

  6. How do I watch this movie on demand? I see the link, but no way to see the movie.


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