So this was the film that launched the modern film movie?  Delightful.

The reason, as it is written, is that Godard created the “jump-cut” that is heavily prominent in just about every movie today.  Today, though, it’s mostly for the wrong reason: watch an action movie, and you have no idea what’s going on because there’s a cut once every 0.5-1.5 seconds.  Godard did it mainly to cut out the boring parts of the film, as he called them.  The original cut of the film was thought to be too long, so instead of cutting out entire scenes, he cut out parts of scenes, and really did nothing to hide the fact that he was cutting parts of the film out.  It was an extremely gutsy move, and it got a really decisive reaction when it originally came out in 1960.

Even today, this film would probably get a decisive reaction.  It’s completely absurd.  The plot, if there is one, involves Michel, a car thief, who happens to kill a cop about five minutes into the film complaining to the camera about everything and nothing, then spends the rest of the film avoiding the cops coming after him.  Much of the time is spent with his American girlfriend of sorts, Patricia.

But none of that matters.  Nothing really matters in this film; it’s all nonsense.  It’s all gleeful nonsense, and me being the absurdist that I am, I enjoyed it.  For instance, take a look at the scene in Patricia’s apartment.  It’s a thirty minute sequence of nonsense: Patricia has a poster she wants to hang up; Michel continually asks her to take off her top; there’s a nude magazine in there somewhere; they listen to music, but not really; they have sex; Michel makes several phone calls trying to get money that’s he’s owned; and they just talk about anything, and none of it matters.  They do this for thirty minutes.

Who, in their right mind today, would get away with thirty minutes of nonsense?  This is downright ballsy.  The rest of the film is like this too, with more nonsense and abstract ramblings (the interview with the poet is probably the one that’ll drive everyone out of the theater).

So, evidently, this isn’t a film for everyone.  You have to be patient, and a silly sense of humor, and to just go with it.

The film was beautifully shot in Paris, and the locales used – the countryside, the Eiffel Tower, and other parts of Paris – look wonderful.  The restored cut of the film looks good; I never saw the original, but the new 35mm pressing looks clean and crisp.  It’s easy to watch, and the cuts aren’t distracting at all.  They add more to the personal feel that Godard was trying to accomplish, and I think he did.  I had watched Citizen Kane a couple weeks ago, and the differences in film styles is staggering.  Watch them both back to back: one, arguably the greatest film of all time, places the camera in a single spot and lets the actors do their thing; the other, the launch of the modern film movement, breathes in the actors, and dances around them while they interact with the world.  It’s amazing really.

But, yes, get through that nonsense, and you may enjoy it as I did.

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