Film Socialisme

(2010)

Genres: Drama

Review: Film Socialisme

Transcript for Review: Film Socialisme

IGNATIY VISHNEVETSKY:
Um, well, most of the films we review on this show aspire to be works of prose. Our next film is a work of poetry, driven by images and ideas instead of plot or characters. It’s FILM SOCIALISME, the latest by French New Wave icon Jean-Luc Godard. It begins on a Mediterranean cruise-ship populated by detectives, luminaries and war criminals.

/clip

From there, FILM SOCIALISME spins out as a series of often-unrelated situations, [play CLIP 9 under] metaphors and conversations, most of which circle back to themes of cultural heritage, obligation and copyright.

/clip “Odessa Steps”

I’ll admit that many of you, our viewers, will probably find this film pretty baffling at first. That’s fine; in fact, instead of tidily saying, “The End,” the final image of the film says “No comment.” That’s not a put-on; it’s an invitation. It invites you to take the images and ideas of the film and make an interpretation of your own. FILM SOCIALISME is one of the least manipulative films ever made; it becomes whatever you want it to be. I found the experience liberating.

CHRISTY LEMIRE:
I’m so happy that you’re here. Because the whole time I was watching this, I was like, “I can’t wait for Ignatiy to explain to me why this is supposed to be good.” Seriously, and you’ve watched it four times.

IGNATIY:
I’ve seen it four times.

CHRISTY:
All the little nuances such is that you say, how did you slog through it once? How did you watch it through it four times? I’m very baffled by this.

IGNATIY:
There’s no boring Film Socialisme, only a bored viewer.

CHRISTY:
Oh my God, did you, it drags! It’s these shots of nothing, like, over fed people on a cruise ship and then I love how, and the best part of all of course is the subtitles, which are intentionally alienating. If you don’t know French, he doesn’t care. Because it’s like a long sentence and then beneath it, it will say, “German, Jew, Black.” Like, she did not say only three words, seriously. What is his point? Is it the degradation of European society? Is that the point? I have no idea what the point of this movie is.

IGNATIY:
It’s not about the degradation of European society. No, you are able to construct a point of your own. The subtitles are usually just a series of nouns, you know, sometimes you get a verb in there.

CHRISTY:
But why? Why do that? Why not make your point, whatever it is, acceptable for the people who are watching it? He is daring them to endure it.

IGNATIY:
First of all, this film is not that difficult. It’s fairly simple.

CHRISTY:
I’m not stupid, and I had no idea what the hell he was trying to say.

IGNATIY:
It’s got animals, you know.

CHRISTY:
Why is there a llama at the gas station?

IGNATIY:
Why shouldn’t there be a llama at the gas station?

CHRISTY:
Is that our own interior llama? Is that what that’s about?

IGNATIY:
No, I think there’s a llama at the gas station because he thinks llamas are funny. It’s the only reason there’s a llama at the gas station. But, throughout he kind of circles through this thing about copyright, which has been a big point for him in just the past couple of years. Um, and specifically being against copyright, being against this idea that authors own their work. And to me, this film and the subtitles are all about letting go of that kind of control and of that responsibility and handing it over to the viewer.

CHRISTY:
Let me ask you one more quick question.

IGNATIY:
Okay.

CHRISTY:
If you did not know Godard made this, if some random aspiring film student sent you a screener of this, would you be as wowed?

IGNATIY:
Well, that’s an excellent, no…

CHRISTY:
Exactly.

IGNATIY:
Everything is about context. Everything is about context and you and I both know this. I would still…

CHRISTY:
No, you worship Godard.

IGNATIY:
I would still think it’s quite brilliant. But, seen within the body of his work, that changes it’s meaning slightly.

CHRISTY:
He’s a cranky old man ranting.

IGNATIY:
You are projecting a cranky old man onto this film.

CHRISTY:
It’s what it is.

IGNATIY:
I, this is a film of a free man. That’s what I see.

CHRISTY:
Okay, alright, well, you’re wrong.

IGNATIY:
I’m not.