Film Socialisme Review and Trailer

As an avid Godard fan, I must admit that I haven’t seen any of his films from his “political” era of filmmaking which is said to extend to the present. That being said, this was not a good introduction.

When I began watching, I thought at first that there must have been a problem with the copy of the film I had. From my very limited knowledge of the French language, I knew that the actors on screen were saying complete sentences, yet the subtitles delivered a translation such as something along the lines of “Egyptians name cats” or “Killing blacks” with almost no context and no complete statements. I was later informed, though, that this is intentional, and dubbed affectionately as “Navajo” by Godard.

This reveals something along the lines of an utter contempt for the English-speaking world, if not the entire non-Francophone world (I haven’t seen another language’s version of this film, so I cannot go so far as to say that with certainty).

Subtitles are an important aspect of post-silent era filmmaking. Dubbing into another language deletes a level of the artistic decisions of the filmmaker (sound being a very important element of film), and simply viewing the film without subtitles and without knowledge of the language will remove the understanding of what the film is about. This seems like an obvious topic, and Godard, from his many years as a filmmaker, must certainly know this.

Why then, I wonder, did he choose to make this film in this way? To me the only explanation is, like I said before, contempt for the English-speaking world.

Therefore, to the non-French speaking world, I cannot recommend this, as it was not meant for you to understand. I cannot comment too heavily on the other merits of this film – the sound is often atrocious (likely intentionally) as though it was shot on the onboard microphone of a poor-quality digital camera – in these sequences, the picture quality is also quite poor – perhaps this is intentional, and part of an overall point that was not meant for non-French speaking people to understand. The final sequence was odd and interesting.

Other than that – skip it. See a more thought-provoking film that does not treat you with disrespect.

Film Socialisme will play for one week in San Francisco starting Friday, September 2nd at New People Cinema (1746 Post Street).

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