Film Socialisme

Film Socialisme

Director: Fabrice Aragno, Jean-Paul Battaggia, Pierre Binggeli, Jean-Luc Godard

Cast: Fabrice Aragno, Jean-Paul Battaggia, Pierre Binggeli, Jean-Luc Godard


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One of cinema's greatest provocateurs, Jean-Luc Godard, presents another barbed but thoughtful meditation on culture, politics and cinema in this experimental drama. Shot using high-definition video equipment and a consumer-grade cell phone, with the crisp images of the former playing off the grain and distortion of the latter, Film Socialisme is divided intoSee more details below


One of cinema's greatest provocateurs, Jean-Luc Godard, presents another barbed but thoughtful meditation on culture, politics and cinema in this experimental drama. Shot using high-definition video equipment and a consumer-grade cell phone, with the crisp images of the former playing off the grain and distortion of the latter, Film Socialisme is divided into three segments. The first takes place on a luxury liner cruising the Mediterranean, as tourists from different lands attempt to communicate in their different languages. In the second, a French family calls a private tribunal, as the children challenge their parents on the issues of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity while the media watches from outside. And, finally, Godard and his crew visit six different places -- Barcelona, Egypt, Naples, Odessa, Palestine, and "Hellas" (the latter could be Greece or France) -- as he confronts issues of truth versus myth and where the global community is headed. While Film Socialisme features dialogue in a number of different languages, the English-language subtitles which appear in the film deliberately confuse matters by being made up of statements which bear no relation to what is being said onscreen, and usually have a provocative political undercurrent. Film Socialisme received its world premiere at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival; to the displeasure of some distributors, it was made available though Video on Demand the day after its debut screening.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
Some artists mellow with age and are eager to neatly sum up their creative philosophy in their later years. Jean-Luc Godard is clearly not this sort of filmmaker. The grand provocateur of the French Nouvelle Vague celebrated his 80th birthday in December 2010, but his films of the 21st century have been as challenging and purposefully elusive as his polemics and video projects of the 1970s -- the works that cost him the attention of the mainstream arthouse audience, which he's never won back (a situation that doesn't appear to trouble him one bit). Though rumors have circulated that Godard may be calling an end to his career soon, Film Socialisme hardly seems like the work of a man intent on making a final statement -- it's one part articulate rant, two parts oblique philosophizing, and it betrays practically no effort to make its ideas or purposes obvious even to those familiar with Godard's body of work. Film Socialisme is divided into three parts, elements of which periodically overlap while maintaining their distinct character. The first segment takes place aboard an ocean liner sailing through the Mediterranean, where a variety of bourgeois tourists from different nations mingle uneasily for several days. This portion of the film was clearly shot on a variety of different formats -- from crisp high-definition video to grainy and distorted images presumably shot using a cheap cell phone -- as the passengers, who speak in several different languages and seemingly embody a variety of social strata, share their thoughts about the lamentable state of Europe and the political misunderstandings around the globe in between trips to the buffet or the on-board night club. (One of the folks enjoying the ride is singer and poet Patti Smith, though she only appears onscreen for a minute or so.) The second act is set in a family-operated gas station where the children are at odds with their parents; their inability to resolve their differences has attracted the attention of a two-woman television crew, one middle-aged and high-strung while the other is younger and more provocative in manner and dress. Finally, the last movement is a meditation on the violent myths and realities of several cultures, from Greece and Italy to Palestine and Russia, stitched together from old newsreels and movies both legendary and obscure as Godard draws parallels from ancient legends to tragedies of the modern age. Be aware that the preceding description actually makes Film Socialisme sound considerably more straightforward than it really is. The movie is short on conventionally defined narrative or characters; the soundtrack piles on eccentric music cues, found noises, and outside conversations along with crudely recorded natural sound; and Godard has added another layer of intellectual static to the film with its English-language subtitles. Long passages of the movie have no subtitles at all, while often the titles clearly do not match what the speakers are saying (in the interest of full disclosure, this writer received a B- in high school French, just enough that I could tell the titles didn't mesh with the dialogue yet not so much that I could always be entirely sure of what was being said). Godard's subtitles read like blank verse, almost always in lower case with idiosyncratic spacing and punctuation, and for every passage that's reasonably lucid ("poor Europe / corrupted by suffering / humiliated by liberty"), there's another that's baffling for its own sake ("grains math television / prime numbers"). Of course, none of this is especially unusual for Godard, but he's clearly willing to push the envelope of obscurity with this film, and there are moments that almost seem like some sort of parody of art filmmaking, particularly a bit where a young woman reading Balzac stands next to a gas pump with a llama looking over her shoulder as a woman shrieks at her in German. (It's also hard to guess why the title "KISS ME STUPID" flashes onscreen near the end, unless Godard has decided to pay homage to Billy Wilder's notorious 1964 comedy.) In the hands of many filmmakers, this would all add up to some sort of cinematic prank, but that's clearly not the case with Godard and Film Socialisme. He's fully engaged with the material, cryptic as it may be, and particularly in the final passage, this is a work that's too deeply felt with too many layers of meaning to have been thrown together as a lark. Godard's work is not unlike that of another iconic artist who came of age in the 1960s and is still hard at work, Bob Dylan; though trying to define the literal meanings of their work is often exasperating, it's clear they have something to say, and there's a passion in their scattered thoughts that's never less than fascinating. In 2011, Godard's political, social, and creative obsessions are as keen as they were when he made Weekend and Made in U.S.A., and while Film Socialisme isn't as strong or as lucid as his best work, it's too thoughtful and intelligent to dismiss, even at its most frustrating.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Lorber Films (Kino)
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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Robert Maloubier Personne de la vraie vie,Actor
Catherine Tanvier La mere
Christian Sinniger Le Père
Patti Smith Personne de la vraie vie,Herself
Jean-Marc Stehle Otto Goldberg
Jean Marc Stehlee Otto Goldberg
Agatha Couture Actor
Nadege Beausson-Diagne Actor,Constance
Eye Haïdara Actor
Marie-Christine Bergier Actor
Mathias Domahidy Actor
Quentin Grosset Lucien
Olga Riazanova La prof de Cinéma,Actor
Alain Badiou Actor,Himself
Maurice Sarfati Actor
Dominique Devals Actor
Louma Sanbar Actor
Gulliver Hecq Actor
Marine Battaggia Actor
Elisabeth Vitali une journaliste FR3 region
Lenny Kaye Himself
Bernard Maris Actor
Elias Sanbar Actor
Dominique Reynié Actor

Technical Credits
Fabrice Aragno Director,Cinematographer
Jean-Paul Battaggia Director,Production Manager
Pierre Binggeli Director
Jean-Luc Godard Director,Editor,Screenwriter
Paul Grivas Director,Cinematographer
Anne-Marie Miéville Director
Louma Sanbar Director
Gabriel Hafner Sound Mixer
François Musy Sound Mixer
Alain Sarde Producer
Ruth Waldburger Producer

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Scene Index

An essay about Film Socialisme by Richard Brody, author of Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard; Trailers; Stills gallery

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