some notes on godard's films: go home ->//
Each man for himself: [horribly sorry for the background image - horribly sorry for reality] Godard. A woman named Denise escaping to the countryside for some reclusive relief. A man named godard who lusts after his daughter and complains of not being able to touch her like women can touch boys. The woman is estranged from godard. His daughter doesn't talk to him. The hotel bell boy wants to be fucked in the ass by him. He claims to direct films because he does not have the courage to do nothing. At the dinner table at a diner, the daughter angrily asks for her presents - and he throws a few copies of shirts in different colors at her. The harsh cacophony of city life overlays a woman getting beaten up by two men asking her to choose while another arrives at the scene in an f-1 car. Their violence can not be heard as the loud sound of the train arriving nearby disturbs the equilibrium as Denise watches helplessly (well no. she watches. just watches with no discernable emotion on her face) from a distance. The film then delves into the helpless sordid encounters of a woman living with roommates who do not like her, forced into prostitution to make rent, splitting half with the men who beat her into dependence. She visits successful men in hotels wearing suits or towels who perform their fetishes for children and power abuse on them. This I suspect is Godard's opinion on the modern city. A city with harsh and unrelenting sounds punctuated with silence only between instructions by capitalist men who carry with them a terrifying capacity for constructin and perpetuating a world that exploits and demeans women and makes the dwellers inside the system - miserable, hostile and antipathetic towards each other. Unlike most other films, this one has the harsh sounds of traffic, men yelling about petty and trivial matters such as a film not having sound, complaining and discussing matters of economics to a faceless entity on the phone as they prop women up around them for use. Isabelle, the prostitute suggests her younger sister the 'tricks of the trade' and asks for half as commission. The degradation of personal meaning behind the transactional nature of life in cities, the quiet acquiescance to squalid living conditions, the submission to the whims of those with money and power, the unrelenting unhappiness and discontent of our cities that's always simmering but never breaking out except in decenetralized bursts of violence on the weak, all this is captured by godard in 'each man for himself'. A friend tells me the film is about 'women' but that feels to me too broad a generalization. The woman does not exist in a vacuum - womanhood is described and situated in the larger system: at least as it appears in the film - a city in the 80s somewhere in France. The connections to capital here are tenuous. But the connections to violence done by men are unmistakeable. The description of how men perceive women as infantile pets to abuse and exploit are unmistakeable. There is this tendency, an undercurrent, a repressed memetic display of preference for what can be vaguely described as 'submissive infantile pets' in women - the cutesy culture of k-pop idols and dolls, childish voices, deliberate dumbing down all appearing as roles in fetish communities which seem innocuous but i suspect might betray a deeper, more repressed societal tendency that godard hints at. His self insert character admits to desiring his 10 year old daughter and I wonder if that is his admission of not being exempt from the perversions and despondent sordidness of the environment he inhabits. This film is very different from the previous films I've seen by him. . Digitally produced in the age of the videotape. Jarring score, more conventional and linear directorial style. The attempt to situate a story inside a city instead of a complete narrative between two people on the run. There's less of a sense of adventure, escape or possibility. there's lesser philosophy. There's only despondent description of a defeated life in the city. Less experimental, more tired. The character called 'godard' doesn't go into a lengthy monologue looking into the camera grappling frustratedly and intensely with his predicament. He's just annoyed, hostile and reticent. The only characters who show vitality are women - in their less comfortable struggle in the interstices between periods of humiliation by other men. This is a film tragic in a different way than vivre sa vie. The close ups of grand personal tragedy, defeat and humiliation in vivre sa vie give way to petty, unavoidable humiliation in this film. Unlike, vivre sa vie - the protagonist women here cannot even find the time to grapple with the philosophical meanings of language and defeat- they're just trying to make money having accepted their reality in some sense. Vivre sa vie was profoundly sad and tragic. This film is profoundly dark and cynical. My reluctance to revisit it is reflective of exactly that. Godard talking about it (and mildly disagreeing with me) here.