The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    ‘Music’ hits sour note

    Hundreds of people, each with a diverse area of expertise, will walk away from Jean-Luc Godard’s latest film “Notre Musique” with a different reaction. It’s not that the film is confusing or a mish-mash of underdeveloped ideas. It’s that the film is a deep, dense collection of socio-political indictments.

    If you take a representative collection of religious studies, political science and philosophy students and show them this film, you’ll have a semester-long class discussion with varied answers.

    In the late 50s, Godard and a collection of French critics paved the way for a new form of filmmaking called the French New Wave. These critics-turned-filmmakers were fed up with studio productions of the era that often churned out over-the-top literary adaptations. The ultimate goal of the movement was a documentary style with unknown actors, socio-political themes and neo-realism.

    Godard, along with auteurs such as Francois Truffaut, Jacques Rivette and Eric Rohmer, revolutionized the cinema and are major influences for Ridley Scott, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorcese, Dogme 95, hand-held cameras and music videos.

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    With “Notre Musique,” literally translated as “Our Music,” an audience must not think of a typical film. Instead, Godard’s films unfold as poems or paintings – works of art. To establish a coherent plot for his films, therefore, seems to be a moot point.

    “Everything can be put into a film,” Godard once said during an interview. “Everything should be put into a film.”

    In “Notre Musique,” Godard takes the outline of Dante’s Divine Comedy by dividing the film into the kingdoms of Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. However, the main topics of interest throughout the film are politics, philosophy, religion and the cinema itself.
    In the first kingdom, a ten-minute montage of war explodes from the screen. The jump cuts and juxtapositions are seriously breathtaking as bursts of color and horrific images illuminate the screen.

    In the second kingdom, Godard takes us to Sarajevo, introducing a barrage of players including a journalist and even Godard himself. This second kingdom comprises the bulk of the film and thematically introduces the most compelling subjects. Sarajevo is in ruins, and the few places that aren’t flattened are overwhelmed with Americanization and globalization. Godard presents the loss of culture and asks the audience to reflect against the idea of nations and states.

    More than anything, Godard asks the audience to reflect on the meaning of his film. However, the mise en scene (everything that goes into the composition of a shot) includes giant question marks in several scenes, suggesting that Godard himself may not know what the audience should take away from the film.

    Perhaps what Godard wants, based on these observations, is the audience to feel and react for themselves. There are no right answers or reactions, just themes.
    For decades now Godard has spoken to an anti-Americanization sentiment as well as a questioning of film. In the third kingdom of Paradise, images of flowers and the Garden of Eden are juxtaposed against an American beach filled with marines. What do you take away from these disturbing beginning and ending images? See Godard’s latest effort and feel for yourself.

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    ‘Music’ hits sour note