Thursday, July 22, 2010

ONE + ONE (Jean-Luc Godard, 1968, UK)

A series of vignettes like words strung together, their meaning altered when assembled in different combinations creating a new message. Jean-Luc Godard’s diatribe against static conventions is a film of its time, creating revolution from disparate and seemingly docile elements.

From the studio where the Rolling Stones are recording their now legendary album Beggar’s Banquet to a junkyard where Black Panthers spout revolution, or a bookstore filled with comic books and pornography to Eden where Eve Democracy exhales a monotonous soliloquy, Godard combines these surreal elements and like an ancient alchemist, discovers gold. Godard doesn’t explain, he leaves the meaning up to each viewer to discern the larger picture from the construction of its tiny parts.

The studio sequences with the Rolling Stones are extraordinary, showing talented musicians at the height of their creative power, as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards begin writing Sympathy for the Devil and Charlie Watts struggles to develop the proper cadence. This is the imaginarium of creation, the painful birthing of the abstract into concrete. The scenes espousing Black Power are a rant against urban Vietnam, the ghetto mentality of modernity, juxtaposed with the Stones taking blues riffs and rhythms and making them their own. The bookstore condemns the populist propaganda, depicting comic books, dime store detective novels, and men’s magazines as one and the same, bought with the currency of Fascism. Godard relegates democracy to its basic ingredients, two words that empower any action depending on the question. A narrator cheerfully vomits exploitation as he reads a cheap pornographic novel which often overlaps and obliterates the dialogue.

Godard puzzles the viewer with the nature of his cinematic game.
Final Grade: (B+)

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