PRAVDA, and LETTER TO JANE, as "essays," essays about political issues andabout radical film aesthetics. They provide more complete statements of Godardand Gorin's political concerns than does any interview, but they offer thatinformation in a non-linear, witty, and distanciated way. As I discuss here thepolitical ideas found in the 1967-72 films, I have often had to separate these ideasout from their filmic presentation. Of necessity here, I have flattened andsimplified political concepts. They must finally be reconsidered within the artisticcomplexity of each film as a whole.
GODARD'S POLITICS BEFORE 1968Godard stated that the first time he deliberately tried to make a, "political” film was in 1966 with MASCULIN-FÉMININ.
Somber cinematography,contemporary Paris as seen by its youth, male adolescent idealism, conversationafter conversation carried oh in interview form — these elements in the film madecritics call it a sociological "document.”
Godard did not give the characters inMASCULIN-FÉMININ much overt political sophistication, yet critics noted how much these adolescents talked about Marx. The film also continued Godard'sprotest against U.S. involvement in Vietnam, which he had started in PIERROTLE FOU and continued in successive films.Then in 1966 Godard openly criticized the film industry and denounced the way capitalist financing and ideological expectations shaped films. He madeMASCULIN-FÉMININ, he said, to reject a cinema of "spectacle." That kind of film had come to Europe through Hollywood but was also found in the USSR.
Furthermore, under French law, scriptwriters and directors did not haveprofessional respect. Regulations that began during the Vichy regime stillcontrolled them. They had to get legal authorizations to make films, get licensedas directors and technicians, and follow strict procedures for film financing. Aware of how the film and television industries conveyed bourgeois ideology,Godard had no illusions about commercial cinema's being influenced by any kindof workers' movement. He saw people as universally conditioned to traditionalideas about cinema. He said even those workers who knew how to go on strike forhigher salaries would still reject the films that could help them the most.For many years Godard railed against the commercial system that requireddirectors to make "clowns" of themselves. He hated having to produce a script for
I have written extensively on the unique cinematic tactics Godard developed in this period. Seemy "Critical Survey of Godard's Oeuvre" as well as descriptions of individual films in
Jean-LucGodard: A Guide to References and Resources
(Boston: G.K. Hall, 1979); "TOUT VA BIEN andCOUP POUR COUP: Radical French Film in Context,"
, 5:3 (Summer, 1972); "Godardand Gorin's WIND FROM THEEAST: Looking at a Film Politically," JUMP CUT, No. 4 (Nov.-Dec., 1974); "The Films of Jean-Luc Godard and Their Use of Brechtian Dramatic Theory," Ph.D.Dissertation, Indiana University, 1976.
Interview with Godard, conducted by myself, Champaign, Illinois, April 4, 1973.
Annie Goldman, "Jean-Luc Godard: Un Nouveau Réalisme,"
14:165 (Sept. 1, 1966), 564.
Godard, interview with Pierre Daix, "Jean Luc Godard: Ce que j'ai á dire,"
Les Lettres françaises
,No. 128 (April 21-27, 1966), p. 17.