Numéro Deux marks the successful collaboration between Anne-Marie Miéville and Jean-Luc Godard. It’s an experimental film examining the effects of man-vs-machine and of a French working class family consisting of children and grandparents living together. Its unusual format projects on the big screen TV video images of different proportions and split-screen images that are superimposed on a 35 mm image after being shot in video. Godard’s argument against traditional beliefs, the work ethic, alienation, and his openly controversial stand on erotic behavior running contrary to traditional family value advocates, pushes forward the sexual boundaries and his radical view that the difficult economic times increase the possibility of more self-awarenesss among the masses. Despite the film’s avant-garde nature, it is surprisingly lucid and one of the noted filmmaker’s better and more subversive films. —Dennis Schwartz
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
"You go to the cinema. You buy a ticket. In exchange, you sell your role as a producer. Turn on the TV and you're an accomplice. Worse still, you organize the crime. You go in looking for your own story, where there are only others' stories. You want the others with you. But it's dangerous. An animal would never do that. But we're men and women. We're superior."
Godard consolidates his past (mid-'60s essays, DVG polemics, even a brief Breathless nod) and his future (Histoire(s), France/Tour/Detour...) with this masterpiece. He's still political, but here he puts it in the frame of human emotions, even if they are abstract. The juxtaposition is clever, the thoughts probing and the tangents entertaining. It's challenging, but oh so worth it.