domino harvey wrote:
Has anyone ever come across a subtitled copy of the Greatest Swindles? It's the only portmanteau film of Godard's I haven't seen. I must admit that unlike sevenarts, I don't hold Godard's shorts in much esteem-- he was a vocal opponent of short films and every short he made in his first period is markedly lifeless and uninspired. I'm still waging my ever-increasingly Quixotic defense of Brody's book, but the amount of time spent fawning over Godard's segment in Six in Paris, which is surely his worst film, is an embarrassment I can co-sign against.
I have not been able to find The Greatest Swindlers
either, despite much searching. I don't think Godard's shorts are his peak work or anything, but at the very least I'd say that Anticipation
(his dense, essayistic contribution to Love & Anger
) are great, and deserve to be considered as important elements in his 60s oeuvre, while The New World
is an interesting trial run for Alphaville
I agree with you about Six in Paris
, though; Godard's segment is an uncharacteristic trifle, mildly amusing at best but mostly just boring. What case does Brody make for that film?
I think the Godard segment is pretty great, and pretty radical in its execution — many of its aspects are first-of-a-kind, and the film (and its subtitle: "Un action-film"
) testify to the fact. Where other filmmakers would end up taking this approach to ape the misperceived qualities of the New Wave and just "lend a jazzy feel" to their output, Godard (with Maysles) is actually finding a way to carve out 360-degrees of scenic space in a way that hadn't been done before (and in two very interesting and unconventional locations, at that) — and most importantly (and anything but "uninspiredly") is trying to find a hypothetical 'new way forward' for the film-frame. The film is extremely
formal — the story (recycled from Une femme est une femme
) is a perfect throwaway (but I think charming, and hilarious, and terrifying) for carrying out this investigation. Note it's a '64 film (made right after Une femme mariée
and before Alphaville
, I think), though it wasn't released till '65...
And what case does Brody (who alerts us in his liner-notes bio-blurb for the new Garrel x 2 release that he holds a B.A. in comp-lit from Princeton) make for the film? Why, that it's "a love-letter to Anna Karina," of course, and that its free-framings are an evocation of the zone of 'uncertainty' into which JLG's then-recent crisis with Karina had plunged him. I would imagine it's also a willful attempt to put Sartrean principles into artistic practice.