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France 1969
Directed by
Jean-Luc Godard
88 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Gai Savoir, Le

Le Gai Savoir was originally commissioned by the French television company, ORTF, as an adaptation of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s novel "Emile".  Once they saw the initial footage, ORTF pulled out of the project and Godard finished the work with his own resources.

A collage and compendium of contemporary counter-cultural revolutionary rhetoric and personalities built around a colloquy between two characters (Juliet Berto as Patricia Lumumba and Jean-Pierre Léaud  as Emile Rousseau) on a deserted sound stage with Godard as narrator, it interweaves sound-bites of Marxist-Leninist-Freudian-informed social and cultural theory with iconic imagery of the time and reflects in a very French way (i.e. Barthes, Foucault, Debord et al.) on epistemological matters, particularly with reference to cinema. With its minimalist setting for the live conversations and seductive twinning of text and imagery, it is in many ways a beautiful film, although it is doubtful, at least these days, that anyone but Godard students will take it on whole. In fact it works better as a kind of installation video than a film, as an artwork more than as a manifesto, and that is the problem for Godard as a revolutionary filmmaker – his work is irredeemably caught within the loop of bourgeois aesthetic consumption albeit as a very specialized part of that .

DVD Extras: Commentary by Dr.Adrian Martin, Senior Research Fellow, Film and Television Studies, Monash University.  

Available from: Madman




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