In this astonishing twelve-part project for and about television — the title of which refers to a 19th-century French primer Le tour de la France par deux enfants — Godard and Miéville take a detour through the everyday lives of two children in contemporary France.
This complex, intimately scaled study of the effect of television on the French family is constructed around Godard’s interviews with a school girl and school boy, Camille and Arnaud. Godard’s provocative questions to the children range from the philosophical (“Do you think you have an existence?”) to the social (“What does revolution mean to you?”). The programs’ symmetrical structure alternates between Camille’s and Arnaud’s segments (or “movements”), each of which is labeled with on-screen titles: Obscur/Chimie is paired with Lumiere/Physique; Réalitie/Logique with Réve/Morale; Violence/Grammaire with Désordre/Calcul.
Using precise formal devices, including the extended take, slow motion, closeups, and the freeze frame, Godard and Miéville “decompose” the quotidian world of their young subjects by focusing on the minutiae of the everyday and isolated gesture, the significance of a gaze. In one remarkable sequence, the fixed camera remains on a close-up of Camille as she sits in silence at the dinner table, while her parents hold an extended conversation offscreen. Another extended sequence observes Arnaud in the classroom.
The children’s interviews (titled Verité) and scenes of their everyday routines at home and at school (Télévision) are followed by the ironic commentary of two adult television journalists (Histoire) who provide a history/story that elaborates on the interviews. Intercut with multi-textual collages of television, cinema and advertising images, these discursive visual essays analyze the economic, social and ideological functions of the mass media.
As they expose how a child’s world is “programmed” by the institutions of family and television, Godard and Miéville posit the mass media as the pervasive cultural influence in the home, with television as the 20th century primer. A provocative social discourse that resonates with eloquence and wit, France/tour/détour/deux enfants is an extraordinary achievement. —Electronic Arts Intermix
The lynchpin of the French New Wave, Jean-Luc Godard was arguably the most influential filmmaker of the postwar era. Beginning with his groundbreaking 1959 feature debut A Bout de Souffle, Godard revolutionized the motion picture form, freeing the medium from the shackles of its long-accepted cinematic language by rewriting the rules of narrative, continuity, sound, and camera work. Later in his career, he also challenged the common means of feature production, distribution, and exhibition, all in an effort to subvert the conventions of the Hollywood formula to create a new kind of film.
Godard was born in Paris on December 3, 1930, the second of four children. After receiving his primary education in Nyon, Switzerland – during World War II, he became a naturalized Swiss citizen – he studied ethnology at the Sorbonne, but spent the vast majority of his days at the Cine-Club du Quartier Latin, where he first met fellow film fanatics Francois Truffaut and Jacques Rivette. In May… read more
Anne-Marie Miéville (born 11 November 1945 in Lausanne) is a Swiss filmmaker, principally known for her work in collaboration with her husband Jean-Luc Godard. —Wikipedia