Godard: The First Wave
January 3 – March 4, 2015
From January 3 through March 4, the Gene Siskel Film Center presents “Godard: The First Wave,” a series of seventeen features and three shorts concentrating on the still vigorous auteur’s early career.
Recently turned 84, Jean-Luc Godard is the seminal figure of modernist cinema, holding a position in film history roughly equivalent to that of James Joyce in literature, Paul Cézanne in painting, and Charlie Parker in jazz. As the early Godard champion and chronicler Richard Roud wrote, “There is the cinema before Godard and the cinema after Godard.”
From his groundbreaking first feature BREATHLESS to his recent Cannes sensation GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE 3D (playing at the Film Center, January 16–February 5), the perennially experimental filmmaker has remained in the front line of film innovation for over fifty years. Godard created the most adventurous works of the early New Wave, mastered a rich collage-like style in the mid-1960s, completely reexamined the bases of his art in the deconstructive political provocations of the post-1968 period, consolidated his experiments in a series of fresh and assured masterpieces in the 1980s, and embraced video in his vanguard works of the 21st century.
Our series centers on the first phase of Godard’s vast output, which represents one of the most remarkable creative bursts of the past century. Bringing his film critic’s background to a series of exuberant cine-centric early works, Godard continued evolving in a series of masterpieces that delved deeper and wider into political, social, and philosophical concerns, until the apocalyptic scorn of WEEKEND and the self-confessed paralysis of his FAR FROM VIETNAM episode brought him to a crisis point of collapse and reinvention. We conclude the series with two of the later films, EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF and HAIL MARY, that show Godard reconnecting with his earlier concerns, but in a radically redefined way.
— Martin Rubin
Supported by the Cultural Service at the Consulate General of France and the Institut français. Special thanks to Amélie Garin-Davet of Cultural Services of the French Embassy, New York; Denis Quenelle and Laurence Geannopulos of the Cultural Service at the Consulate General of France, Chicago; Eric Di Bernardo of Rialto Pictures; Brian Belovarac and Laura Coxson of Janus Films; Jake Perlin of The Film Desk; Tim Lanza of Cohen Film Group; Livia Bloom of Icarus Films; and Sarah Wexler of Entertainment One Films.
SATURDAY DOUBLE-BILL DISCOUNT!
Buy a ticket at our regular prices for the first “Godard: The First Wave” film on any Saturday in January or February, and get a ticket for the second “Godard: The First Wave” film that day at the discounted rate with proof of your original purchase: General Admission $7; Students $5; Members $4. (This discount rate applies to the second feature only.) Discount available in person at the box office only.
Buy a ticket for any screening of GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE 3D, and get a ticket for any single film in the “Godard: The First Wave” series at the discounted rate with proof of your original purchase: General Admission $7; Students $5; Members $4. (This discount rate applies to the selected “Godard: The First Wave” film only.) Discount available in person at the box office only.
1965, Jean-Luc Godard, France, 99 min.
“One of Godard's most sheerly enjoyable movies, a dazzling amalgam of film noir and science fiction.”
— Tom Milne, Time Out London
Cruising through inter-sidereal space in his Ford Galaxy, secret agent Lemmy Caution (Constantine) enters Alphaville, a computer-controlled city of the future that greatly resembles Paris in 1965. Caution’s official mission is to kidnap or kill the computer’s scientific mentor, but his personal mission becomes rescuing the scientist’s daughter (Karina) from a world without poetry or feeling. Described by Godard as “Tarzan vs. IBM,” ALPHAVILLE is one of the few science-fiction films to be forward-looking in its style rather than in its props and special effects. In French with English subtitles. DCP digital restoration. (MR)
TWO OR THREE THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER
(2 OU 3 CHOSES QUE JE SAIS D'ELLE)
1966, Jean-Luc Godard, France, 85 min. With Marina Vlady, Anny Duperey
“Could be the single greatest work in the master’s entire career.” — J. Hoberman, Village Voice
“Perhaps Godard’s greatest feature.”
— Susan Sontag
The "her" of the title refers to both Paris and the heroine, a young mother living in a suburban high-rise who turns part-time prostitute to make ends meet: Belle de Jour in Alphaville. Mixing concrete social comment with dazzling phenomenological set pieces--a coffee cup becomes a universe, a cigarette tip glows like a planet--Godard fashions a caustic vision of consumerist society as a vast brothel. In French with English Subtitles. 35mm widescreen. (MR)
FAR FROM VIETNAM
(LOIN DU VIETNAM)
1967, Various directors, France, 115 min.
“An important film, a beautiful film, a moving film...the cinema at last has its ‘Guernica.’”
— Richard Roud, The Guardian
This landmark agit-doc marked a turning point, not only in Godard’s career, but also in the history of the French New Wave, addressing the lack of political consciousness for which the movement had been previously taken to task. Conceived and edited by Chris Marker, FAR FROM VIETNAM enlists the collective contributions of six leading directors--Godard, Joris Ivens, William Klein, Claude Lelouch, Alain Resnais, Agnès Varda--diverse in their approaches but united in their opposition to U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. Notable passages include a moving interview with the widow of self-immolating Pentagon protester Norman Morrison, an appropriately distorted videocast of a speech by Gen. Westmoreland, and a soul-searching monologue by Godard, immobilized beside his camera as he weighs the next step. In French, Vietnamese, and English with English subtitles. DCP digital restoration. (MR)
1967, Jean-Luc Godard, France, 105 min. With Mireille Darc, Jean Yanne
"A great, original work... WEEKEND is Godard's vision of Hell, and it ranks with the greatest." — Pauline Kael, The New Yorker
"Godard's best film, and his most inventive."
— Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
WEEKEND is the climactic film of Godard's first, "classic" period, and one of the key works of the 1960s. A crass bourgeois couple (Darc, Yanne) embark on a weekend road trip that becomes a plunge into the last throes of consumerist society as it destroys itself in auto wrecks and disappears into the stewpots of cannibalistic revolutionaries. Self-described as "a film found on the junk-heap" and "a film lost in the cosmos," WEEKEND mixes pornography, slapstick, violence, political rhetoric, and virtuoso camerawork (the traffic-jam tracking shot is one of the great tours de force in film history). In French with English subtitles. 35mm. (MR)
(JE VOUS SALUE, MARIE)
1985, Jean-Luc Godard, France, 82 min. With Myriem Roussel, Thierry Rode
“One of the most radiant and tenderly religious movies ever made.”
— David Denby, New York Magazine
HAIL MARY received a Papal denunciation, generated worldwide protests, and won the International Catholic Cinema Office Award. Almost overlooked in all the furor was the film itself, a serene, sensitive, and lyrical work that translates the Virgin Birth into tangible, contemporized terms, with Mary as a basketball-playing gas-station attendant who receives the Annunciation by jetliner. In French with English subtitles. 35mm. (MR)
EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF
(SAUVE QUI PEUT [LA VIE])
(SAUVE QUI PEUT [LA VIE])
“Should be seen by everyone interested in movies or in life, without hesitation or delay.”
— Jonathan Rosenbaum
After a dozen years in the anti-cinema wilderness, Godard returned to the height of his powers with this playful, deeply personal work that he calls “my second first film.” The plot interweaves three main characters: a film editor (Baye) fleeing the pressures of city life, a prostitute (Huppert) selling her body but keeping her soul, and a director named Paul Godard (Dutronc) whose marriage is breaking up. With its coolly perverse eroticism, its innovative use of slow-motion camerawork, and its bold connections of art, commerce, and prostitution, EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF remains one of Godard's most provocative and bracingly beautiful films. In French with English subtitles. 35mm. (MR)
1963, Jean-Luc Godard, France, 80 min.
- Sat, Jan 31st 5:00pm
- Tue, Feb 3rd 6:00pm
Marvelously funny...one of Godard’s most successful films, and, incidentally, one easier to understand and enjoy than his later work.”
— Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Co-scripted by revered mentor Roberto Rossellini and frequent Truffaut/Resnais collaborator Jean Gruault, this controversial work combines neorealist grit with slapstick atrocities. The rare antiwar film that avoids glamorizing war, LES CARABINIERS is an effectively stupid and ugly parable about the stupidity and ugliness of war. Two gullible clodhoppers named Ulysses and Michelangelo set out from their muddy farm to fight for their King in exchange for “all the treasures of the world.” In French with English subtitles. Archival 35mm print courtesy of the Institut français.
1966, Jean-Luc Godard, France, 103 min.
“That rare movie achievement: a work of grace and beauty in a contemporary setting...it shows the most dazzlingly inventive and audacious artist in movies today at a new peak.”
— Pauline Kael
Tagged ‘the children of Marx and Coca-Cola” by its director, MASCULINE FEMININE is about adolescence, sexuality, consumerism, and Paris in the winter of 1965. Centering on the mainly one-sided romance between a volubly ineffective young radical (Léaud) and a vapid pop singer (Goya), the film freely collages verité, parody, politics, interviews, trips to the movies, and random acts of violence. In French with English subtitles. 35mm. (MR)
MADE IN U.S.A.
1966, Jean-Luc Godard, France, 85 min.
"The most quintessential movie of Godard's great period."
— J. Hoberman, Village Voice
Described by its heroine as "just like a Walt Disney movie, only with blood," this meta-thriller casts Karina as a female Bogart searching for her missing lover (voiced by Godard) in a treacherous "Atlantic City" (strongly resembling Paris) peopled by characters with names like Richard Widmark, Donald Siegel, and Richard Nixon. The plot is deliberately, playfully indecipherable in homage to THE BIG SLEEP, and Raoul Coutard's gorgeous cinematography is laced with bold splashes of pop-art color. In French with English subtitles. 35mm widescreen (MR)