Chinoise [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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The bare plot is simple enough, and I won't outline it here, but what is great about this film is its spirit. I daresay it captures the atmosphere of the times - of a contemporaneous flat of young political activists - perfectly. I stress the word 'atmosphere', as that is the first thing that draws you in. The little things, the note-writing on the walls, posters, paintings, books, the way the people in the flat sit, stand, study, listen to the radio, and relate to each other, all of these paint in successive strokes the atmosphere of the flat.
But then the camera moves and decides to show the crew and the equipments and so we are not even allowed to forget that this is a show. The characters come forward in an interview like monologue (we can't hear the interlocutor) and tell you about themselves, how they came to be in that flat, their political beliefs, etc. They may just be playing their parts and reciting dialogue but one gets the feeling that they are also speaking for themselves (a character (Guillaume) explicitly says that he is!)
Now for the most demanding part of the film, the actual 'text', shall I say? Apart from incessant quotes from the Red Book, the actual dialogues and talks in the film are quite intellectually demanding, and in fact quite enlightening at times. I do recommend a second view to get more out of the film. I was especially impressed by the talk between Véronique and the Professor-activist in the train.Read more ›
Godard's style is crude in a radical (typical of the time) and contaminated by contemporary pop-art, visually and also in the soundtrack.
The most political of his works, it still doesn't say much about his own political beliefs.
There is no plot. What we are subjected to amounts to little more than a series of vignettes of utterly bourgeois adolescents rambling their tin-pot political philosophies from the comfort of their upper middle class apartments. Was this supposed to be ironic? Or are we supposed to buy into the ideas of these vacuous kids? It fails on both levels. All I wanted to do was give all of them a good slap across the chops and tell them to grow up.
Am I missing the point? Do I just not get it? Perhaps, and I'm fine with that. I truly love some of Godard's films; Vivra Sa Vie, Pierrot Le Fou, Le Mepris. The difference is that all of these films had something or someone for me to care about. The one thing that might have saved La Chinoise for me would have been for all the characters to catch bubonic plague and die horribly. That would have been a pay off worth waiting for.
Stylistically the film has Godard written all over it but, by the time this film came out (in 1967), these flairs were already wearing a little thin, especially when they're essentially there to veil an utterly feckless piece of propaganda.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
... but such a great pseudo-documentary about the Parisian, idealistic but somehow legless Maoist vague in Paris. Read morePublished 23 months ago by superfrog
La Chinoise (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967)
La Chinoise is now regarded as an uncannily prescient and insightful examination of the New Left activism during those years (ie the... Read more