Customer Review

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not three of Godard's best, 20 Aug 2007
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This review is from: Jean-Luc Godard Box Set - Alphaville/Le Petit Soldat/Une Femme Est Une Femme [DVD] (DVD)
First of all, unlike some today, I still think of Godard as a great film-maker. However, for such a great artist, he made a fair number of pretty average films, and some plain awful ones too; picking your way through the rubble in search of greatness is not always the most pleasurable of tasks. If you're new to Godard, I would suggest leaving these three movies until you've watched some of his really outstanding work, such as A Bout de Souffle, Vivre sa Vie, Le Mepris, Bande a Parte, Pierrot le Fou, and (perhaps) Slow Motion. If you like those, then you might think about moving on to some of the second-string material like this.

Le Petit Soldat is a reasonably insightful study of the war between France and Algeria in the late fifties / early sixties. Credit Godard with the courage to suggest that there were wrongs on both sides; credit him also with the ability to make a reasonably suspenseful thriller, an ability he all but abandoned as the sixties wore on. I suppose this film is, as another Amazon reviewer observed, a little stuck in its own time, dealing with events long past. It still bears up to a close viewing, but I think for most people it will be memorable mainly for the strong acting performances from the two leads (Anna Karina and Michel Subor); and also for that very famous -- and rather ludicrous -- soundbite of Godard's, "Photography is truth; cinema is truth 24 frames a second."

Une Femme est Une Femme is (I assume) Godard's attempt at deconstructing the musical comedy form. It's OK if your idea of comedy is a Frenchman in a suit riding around his living room on a bicycle, or attempting to conduct a conversation with a toothbrush in his mouth; it's OK if your idea of deconstructive analysis is a nugget like, "Emile takes Angela at her word because he loves her... Because she loves him, Angela lets herself be caught in the trap... Everything will go wrong for them, because they love each other... They have made the mistake of thinking they can go too far, because their love is both mutual and eternal," emblazoned in white text across the screen while the besuited man (Jean-Claude Brialy) bickers amiably with his girlfriend (Anna Karina) about having a baby. It's very bright and colourful and eccentric -- Karina, of course, looks spectacular at the centre of the film -- but I can't say I find any of it particularly joyous. It all seems a bit forced and contrived to me. Godard was simply too self-conscious to be able to leap with any kind of abandon into the making of a film; and, sure enough, even in this ostensibly light-hearted movie you get the odd half-measure of pseudo-philosophy, just to put a damper on things for anybody who was actually enjoying it.

Alphaville, for its part, is a terrible film, a truly disastrous attempt at sci-fi film noir. Clumsy, clunky, tedious, pretentious, and overbearingly puffed up with its own importance, this was the beginning of the end for Godard as a maker of watchable feature films. I'm afraid I can't bring myself to say any more about it, it's so bad.

The packaging on this product as a whole is rather mediocre, with no extra features on the DVDs. And, yes, the subtitles are 'burned-in', which I think was very ill-advised. Overall, this package offers little for the casually interested, and nothing new for serious fans of Godard's work. I can't really see who they thought would be rushing to buy it, to be honest.
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