Sunday, December 14, 2008

Two or Three Things I Know About Her

I thought that Godard’s Two or Three Things I Know About Her was in small way an apology for the frothy girls in Masculine/Feminine. Juliette seems like a deep thinker questioning the world around her. But then again, Godard’s creepy whisper does his fair share of philosophizing as well. In fact the whisper makes him sound like the devil on her shoulder daring her to reexamine the world she is living in. However, she is a deep thinking prostitute, which makes her more the heir apparent to Nana in Vivre Sa Vie. When Juliette drops off her child, we see a painting of Nana on the wall. We also see a picture of a geisha while she puts on red lipstick and explains her feelings toward her chosen profession. I found this interesting because being a geisha involves some form of artistry such as playing an instrument to seduce the patron. For Juliette, no art is needed in her life, just a willingness to put an airline bag over her head to amuse an American.

Speaking of art, the café scene with her husband and another girl explores the art of conversation. He tells her, “People don’t talk in films.” Godard calls attention to the fact that the actors are reciting lines written by the screenwriter or fed by the director that the audience registers as a conversation. The typical shot/reverse shot sequence also helps to identity the scene as one. Once again, Godard shoots the scene like his interview scenes in Masculine/Feminine which forces us to make our own observations about the female rather than recognizing the scene as a conversation. And once again, the subject of the conversation is about sex as if to say that it is the only thing that men and women can “talk” about.

Since this is a film about language, I honestly think that the “her” in title is not Juliette. After all, Godard tells us in the beginning of the film what Juliette does is not important. I know that movie and the movie theater are masculine in French (le film and le cinéma). However, film used in cameras is feminine (la pellicule). But if he had included scenes using tinting or scratching like he did in Contempt, I could have argued that the two or three things he knew about la pellicule is how to change the look of the film to convey a different meaning. France is feminine in French (La France) and what Godard knows is that she is on her way to being sucked into the vortex of consumerism as show by the building under construction and the last image of the consumer products on the lawn. Language is feminine in French (la langue) and therefore what he knows is that words and images cannot always depict each other. We cannot always find the words to accurately describe our experiences with the world whether we are focusing on our economic situation or a war fought miles away from us. But we still have to try and in trying we might find a new way to communicate.

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